According to the World Bank’s recently released report titled “Digital Dividends,” the world’s poorest families are more likely to have mobile phones than toilets or clean water, with the number of Internet users more than tripled in a decade to 3.2 billion at the end of last year, representing more than 40% of the world’s population. However this expansion in communication hasn’t delivered the widespread gains to productivity in the expected way.
The report says the spiraling growth in digital technology has fallen short in improving opportunities for the world’s poorest and helping spread accountable governance. “The full benefits of the information and communications transformation will not be realized unless countries continue to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance.”In countries where these fundamentals are weak, digital technologies have not boosted productivity or reduced inequality.
The World Bank stresses on the fact that connecting the world should be seen as essential but far from sufficient to lifting the poor. Also those markets lacking competition will see more chances of monopoly of digital technology and innovation restrictions. Though the internet may enhance the automation of tasks, it could create greater inequalities if workers are not skilled enough to reap the benefits of technological advances. In the absence of accountability, the internet can allow expansion of greater governmental control also.
In many developing countries, Internet and mobile-phone access eats up a big portion of incomes. Moreover, some countries don’t have the education systems to enable people to use the Internet. In Mali and Uganda, about three-quarters of third-grade children can’t read, the World Bank said.
“Not surprisingly, the better educated, well connected, and more capable have received most of the benefits” of the digital expansion, the report said.