On Tuesday November 7th, during Development Policy Forum’s (DPF) Policy Insight, led by Friends of Europe, Dana Schurmans, ACP YPN Digital Inclusion Expert, discussed together with Jüri Seilenthal, Director-General for Foreign Economic Policy and Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, and G Subramanian, Principal Innovation Evangelist at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), how the digital revolution is impacting international development. The panel was moderated by Shada Islam, Director Europe & Geopolitics. The panellist addressed how digitisation could become an even more powerful force for change and growth in the coming years, and how access to new technologies and the Internet is empowering the world’s poor and disadvantaged people, creating ‘digital dividends’ for developing countries.
Dana stated that critically understanding how we, as society and individuals, can and should use digital tools to enhance a more inclusive society for all, regardless of age, gender or ethnic origins, has been a central question in her academic and associative life. As researcher at the Université Catholique de Louvain and member of ACP YPN she is aware that digital skills have become a key to job markets and for education round the world, yet new risk of digital inequalities amidst younger generations can be noticed: young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have a higher risk than their peers of being digitally excluded. Literature shows that differences in digital access, attitude, skills, self-assessment of skills, use, diversification use and social support deepens the gap between digital in and digital out.
Her key message was that while ICT4D policies offer new perspectives for development aid, including for young generations, policy makers should acknowledge the new challenges related to digital exclusion. In order to enable youth from developing countries to seize digital opportunities, she suggested that, policy makers should continually invest in digital infrastructure, education and meaningful digital environments or services. Undeniably, development through digital can only be achieved if we recognize its dual pace. Capitalizing on social and digital resources is therefore mandatory.
By Dana E. Schurmans
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