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This podcast episode explores labour market skills needs, and how education, training and lifelong learning can effectively skill and re-skill workers throughout their lives in an evolving and increasingly digitalized labour market.

 

 

Digitalization is changing the nature, mode, and pace of work. This means the skilling and re-skilling of workers will be essential if enterprises and entire industries are to maintain and increase functionality and productivity, effectively manage shocks, ensure, and sustain the well-being and livelihoods of workers, and create decent jobs. Understanding and anticipating the evolving skills needs is a crucial step that can guide the training of workers. This episode explores labour market skills needs, and how education, training and lifelong learning can effectively skill and re-skill workers throughout their lives in an evolving and increasingly digitalized labour market.

The future of work podcast series was created on behalf of the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

GUEST:
Olga Strietska-Ilina
ILO Senior Skills and Employability Specialist, and Team Leader on Skills Strategies for Future Labour Markets

  • Global trade has been disrupted by the war in Ukraine, COVID-19 and other supply chain blockages.
  • In the digital age, new tools and systems can help streamline global trade.
  • These include non-fungible tokens, digital IDs and digital trade agreements.
  • A single digital identity that could allow any organization to trade globally is the ideal, says the World Economic Forum.

Global trade is under pressure.

The war in Ukraine has led to worldwide disruption, with global output predicted to drop 1%. And that’s after COVID-19 triggered some of the biggest falls in global trade since World War II.

But the pandemic also showed us the power of digital technology to keep the world going. For international importers and exporters, digital trade systems and tools offer huge opportunities.

Here are three developments helping to make global trade smoother and safer.

Non-fungible tokens

Non-fungible tokens – NFTs for short – are a form of secure digital ownership. They are unique digital tokens that can be used to buy, own and sell digital or physical items online, according to business news website Business Insider. This might include real estate, art or music.

It might be an image, 3D model, document, or anything else, says FinTech Magazine. These digital signatures can’t be altered or faked in any way, meaning new possibilities for handling sensitive data.

NFTs can also streamline international trade by removing document fraud and the need for multiple regulations and human interventions along supply chains, FinTech adds.

In 2021, more than $17 billion of NFTs were traded globally, up 21,000% from $82 million in 2020, reports payments news site PYMNTS.com.

Digital IDs

Before trade can happen, businesses need to verify each other’s identity. Instead of using paper documents like passports and driving licences, digital IDs are a way of verifying identities remotely over digital channels, explains research specialist, McKinsey Global Institute.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) says digital IDs can apply to people, organizations or things. They’re now critical to a wide range of international trade transactions and processes. For example, drawing up contracts, exchanging data, bringing new suppliers or partners on board and complying with regulations related to the environment, counterterrorism, finance and other areas.

Digital ID systems are typically used by government agencies like customs and business registration.

But as trade becomes more digital, so does the need for a digital ID system that works globally across borders and not just in specific sectors, the WTO says. In its work on Global Trade Identity, the World Economic Forum explores the use of a single digital ID that could allow any organization to trade globally.

Digital systems can streamline international trade, improve security and reduce costs. Image: World Economic Forum

Digital trade agreements

Digital trade agreements are a package of measures between governments designed to make trade easier in the digital age.

In February this year, the United Kingdom signed a digital trade deal with Singapore that includes shared digital systems for e-invoicing, e-payments and other electronic documents, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

The UK government said the deal would “end outdated rules” for exporters of goods and services, cut costs and “pave the way for [a] new era of modern trade”.

Singapore has also signed a digital trade agreement with Chile and New Zealand. The deal is designed to help trade flow between different regimes, with benefits including enhanced security, quicker cargo clearance and faster payment processing.

The World Economic Forum is working with partners to develop a unified set of global rules for digital trade. In a blog, Ziyang Fan and Mike Gallaher of the Forum’s digital trade team say: “Existing digital trade rules are outdated, complex and fragmented, if they exist at all.”

They argue that modernizing digital trade rules would advance digital trade, create more jobs, lower costs and reduce inefficiencies.

Nearly a quarter of the world’s top 150 digital technology companies are set to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Thirty-eight of the world’s 150 leading tech companies are on track to become carbon neutral by 2030, with several aiming to be carbon negative soon after, according to a report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA).

The new report, Greening digital companies: Monitoring emissions and climate commitments​, documents the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use of 150 of the world’s leading tech companies.

The study strives to enable tech companies to adopt best practices, accelerate emissions reduction, and “green” themselves to eliminate carbon-dioxide (CO2) and other GHG output from their operations.

If other digital companies would emulate those currently leading in the quest for carbon neutrality, it could make information and communication technologies (ICTs) one of the greenest sectors of the global economy, the report asserts.

“Tech companies are an essential part of the global economy,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This new study serves as a roadmap to drive all these companies towards net-zero emissions. This is the way to ensure today’s digital transformation accelerates climate action – and to do so before it’s too late.”

Part of the solution

Operational GHG emissions among the 150 companies accounted for 239 million tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 0.8 per cent of the world total. Yet digital companies – defined as those that produce and sell ICT equipment, operate telecommunication networks, and provide software and other information technology services, including data centres and cloud computing – have also become prominent in the race to eliminate harmful emissions.

Gerbrand Haverkamp, Executive Director at WBA, said: “Digital companies and their innovative nature are indispensable drivers of change to build a future that is not only technologically connected, but also fair and sustainable for both people and the planet. This report is testimony that digital companies can and must play a notable role in the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in solutions aligned to the Paris Agreement. We hope this research can incentivise companies themselves to learn from best practices, reduce their emissions, and improve their energy efficiency across all their operations.”

Ramping up climate response 

From renewable power purchases and investments in carbon capture to issuing green bonds, these companies are at the forefront of global GHG reduction efforts. Digital companies accounted for seven of the top ten largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy in 2020, making up almost half of the renewables purchased globally that year, the report found.

Corporate energy sourcing is a crucial factor as countries strive to cut their emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit the rise in average global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: “It is no secret that as we increase our use of technology services, networks and devices, energy consumption and emissions increase in tandem. But digital technologies can be part of the solution, too. They can directly address challenges related to climate change, help scale up renewable energy markets, support smart power grids and smart metering for buildings, and of course enable emissions reductions from our work through solutions like video conferencing.”

Overall, the 150 tech companies covered by the study consumed 425 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2020, around 1.6 per cent of the world total. Of that amount, around one third was renewable.

In many cases, companies purchase voluntary offsets to make up for unavoidable emissions. These offsets can support projects such as solar and wind farms in low- and middle-income countries, as well as the provision of environmentally friendly cookstoves and Pay-As-You-Go solar electricity services.

Renewable energy supply challenges 

Low- and middle-income countries frequently face energy challenges, including limited electricity access or unreliable grids, resulting in over-reliance on dirty diesel-powered generator sets. To address such challenges, governments need to create favourable conditions for renewable energy use.

At the same time, tech companies are not always getting the renewable energy they pay for due to the design of electrical grids. In response, a multi-stakeholder group of energy buyers, energy suppliers, governments, investors and other organizations have partnered “to accelerate the decarbonization of electricity grids by adopting, enabling, and advancing 24/7 Carbon-free Energy (CFE)“, meaning that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumption is met with carbon-free electricity sources, every hour of every day, everywhere.

About the report 

The Greening digital companies: Monitoring emissions and climate commitments​ report draws on climate data published by tech companies themselves to uncover insights, assess where the industry will be by 2030, review climate performance by company and region, and highlight innovative practices to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint.

ITU’s work as the United Nations specialized agency for ICTs includes developing technical standards that provide guidance on achieving net zero emissions. This includes helping countries and the ICT sector meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.

WBA is a non-profit organization that assesses and ranks the performance of the world’s most influential companies in terms of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Among various benchmarks published by the organization, the Digital Inclusion Benchmark assesses the world’s 150 most influential tech and telecom companies through evidence-based metrics on digital inclusion and sustainable development.

The global pandemic accelerated digital transformation by as much as 10 years, according to Rodney Taylor, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), who spoke to the Universal Postal Union (UPU) about ICT and digitalization in the Caribbean earlier this month.

This is great news in terms of digital transformation, but in an increasingly digital world, companies, governments, and authorities are now even more at risk of cybercrime – a growing threat to organizations worldwide.

According to figures from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), data breaches caused by cyberattacks got off to a record start in 2022, following a record setting 2021. Q1 2022 data revealed that 90% of data breaches are cyberattack-related. Data breaches have increased for the third consecutive year.

Many Posts have suffered from cyberattacks in recent months. Hellenic Post in Greece, for example, was subjected to a serious cyberattack in late March, which brought down computer systems using malware. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, post offices were shut down by a cyberattack late last year. Other Posts including the Bulgarian Post, Correios Brazil, and Ukrposhta have all been impacted by cybercrime.

These recent events and rising cybercrime figures in general highlight the vital importance of Posts’ making cybersecurity a priority within their organizations. The CTU’s Rodney Taylor, who appeared in Episode 12 of the UPU’s Voice Mail podcast, believes that collaboration is key between countries, states, and organizations, to achieve cybersecurity.

“It is critical that we bring everyone together to cooperate on how cybercrime is addressed on a global scale,” he said. “We have leveraged this model in the Caribbean and developed an Internet governance policy framework to provide guidance to member states on various aspects of cybersecurity and policy guidelines.”

In the podcast episode, Rodney also highlighted the importance of raising the awareness of cyberthreats with the public and with governments to ensure that the right “legislative frameworks” are in place to deter cybercrime.

The UPU has developed several tools to help Posts tackle the challenge of cybercrime. Its .POST top-level domain, for example, provides a secure and trusted Internet space to serve the needs of the global postal community in the digital economy.

Furthermore, in May, .POST’s governance group launched a new tool to boost .POST members’ cyber resilience. The cybertrack.post solution is a fully automated, web-based dashboard tool, which provides real-time monitoring of .POST domains’ technical compliance with approved cybersecurity policies covering DNSSEC, secure e-mail authentication and secure online transactions. The tool supports access on an individual country basis, allowing nominated focal point(s) in this country receive email alerts in case of nonconformity events.​

Cybertrack.post also provides access to the .POST Learning Platform where the UPU will be hosting cybersecurity training and capacity building activities. A self-paced bootcamp in secure email authentication, which was developed by one of the UPU’s partners – the Global Cyber Alliance – has already been placed on the learning platform. The UPU has plans to work with partners to place additional materials on the platform over the next 6-12 months.

Tracy Hackshaw, .POST Projects Manager, who worked with the .POST Group to launch the new tool, said, “The tool is highly intuitive and requires minimal setup. Experience has shown that, even for high-level, executive, non-technical users, the onboarding process is done in minutes. All .POST domains are automatically added to the list of domains monitored in real-time by cybertrack.post.”

The UPU is currently working to onboard all the .POST Group members to use the tool. It will also be launching a series of webinars over the next 2-3 months highlighting and showcasing .POST Group members who have successfully launched solutions and services using .POST.

“We are also currently working on expanding the functionality of cybertrack.post in all aspects, including integrating elements of the .POST/UPU Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT), DNS abuse/security threat reporting and monitoring and several other aspects designed to improve the cyber-resilience of .POST Group members, in particular, UPU members, and indeed, the global postal sector as a whole,” Hackshaw concluded.

The Commonwealth Digital Trade Hackathon was officially launched today at the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF 2022), held on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali.

The Hackathon is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Connectivity Agenda (CCA) and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO).

At the Youth Forum, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said:

“I am delighted that we are officially launching another important project for young people. We are asking you to lead the future charge in building resilient, sustainable and interconnected digital economies across the Commonwealth. We are asking you to take part in a unique HACKATHON: “Harnessing Technology to Transform the Digital Trade Economy”.

“This Hackathon will scout, select and support impact-driven teams with game-changing solutions – designed to harness the shift to digitalisation across the Commonwealth and beyond. Trade is a vital connection in our Commonwealth family, and this Hackathon will directly engage you to come up with fresh, innovative ideas to harness digital technology to facilitate trade and cross border paperless trade.”

 

Ahead of the launch, Secretary-General of the CTO, Ms. Bernadette Lewis said:

“There is no returning to December 2019 and while trade is recovering, there are many more opportunities for fostering digital trade. This Hackathon will challenge you to re-imaging trade – examine the existing barriers to digital trade and developing software solutions to overcome them. The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is pleased to be a partner with the Commonwealth Secretariat to convene this Hackathon.

“This endeavour is part of our push to support The Commonwealth’s Connectivity Agenda, to explore and develop technologies that can facilitate cross border paperless trade. This project will bring together finance and technology innovators and major technology institutions. The winner of the Commonwealth Digital Trade Hackathon will receive a cash prize as well as entrepreneurial support.”

Game-changing solutions

The Commonwealth Digital Trade Hackathon’s theme, “Harnessing Technology to Transform the Digital Trade Economy”, will scout, select and support impact-driven teams with game-changing solutions that aim to address the shift to increased digital technology, as we strive to achieve a fairer and more frictionless international trade system across the Commonwealth and beyond.

This dynamic initiative  aims to develop  innovative solutions that increase the adoption of digital technology in the Commonwealth and beyond, the need for which has been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed solutions will therefore seek to explore high-potential existing and new technologies that can facilitate trade and cross-border paperless trade.

The Commonwealth Digital Trade Hackathon is open to teams with scale-ready solutions that want to accelerate their impact. Among the solutions that this hackathon seeks to come up with are:

  • increasing accessibility to reduce barriers to trade through efficient digital infrastructure;
  • promoting inclusive growth, including experience sharing, digital skills development and industrial upskilling;
  • improving agricultural and fisheries connectivity; and
  • promoting business to business partnerships that support inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.

How to join

Unlike most Hackathons, the Commonwealth’s will feature scale-ready solutions. Teams will have 48 hours to prepare and present their exiting tech solution. Submission is through the Digital Hack Platform and hybrid presentation before the awarding in October. Workshops, mentorship and learning sessions are available throughout the event.

The delivery of the Hackathon is supported by Impact Hub. Sandra Akariza from Impact Hub Kigali, announced the timeline of the event. “This is a real opportunity for teams with proven solutions to make a huge difference to Commonwealth citizens by scaling their solutions internationally,” she said.

The winner of the Commonwealth Digital Trade Hackathon will receive exciting prizes and the unique opportunity to receive support to scale their solution across the Commonwealth.

E-mail the CCA team for more information about the Hackathon or to register interest in participating.

The creative industries contributed close to $3 trillion to global GDP in 2020, yet their ability to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth in emerging markets is often largely invisible ― especially compared to traditional sectors such as natural resource extraction, manufacturing, and financial services.

This happens largely because of the challenges in defining and measuring the creative industries and its impact, especially given that several of its development outcomes are intangible. By neglecting to capitalize on their rich cultural assets, emerging markets are missing major opportunities in pursuing economic diversification and promoting shared prosperity.

But now there are strong incentives for governments and the private sector to measure and invest in this industry. That is because new disruptive technologies, which have flourished since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to create formal income-earning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of individual artists and generate economic growth for countries around the world.

A primer on creative industries

First, some background on creative industries.

These industries use creativity and culture as their main input to produce creative products. These products include music, film, fashion, and the visual arts, among others, and extend to a range of creative content production embedded within other sectors. The sector has the potential to constitute not only a source of cultural value, but also commercial value within emerging markets.

One good example is Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, which contributes around up to 3 percent to Nigeria’s GDP. Nollywood provides around 300,000 direct and 1 million indirect jobs and generates around 10 percent of foreign exchange earnings from non-oil exports. Still, much of Nollywood’s commercial potential remains unharnessed, as piracy of films is thought to constitute 50 percent of potential profits.

Creativity also supports economic growth through fostering productivity, promoting industrial innovation via supply chain linkages with other sectors, and improving country branding for the tourism industry. Further, unlike other economic sectors, the creative industries provide a broad array of socio-cognitive benefits for individuals, as consumption of creative goods supports educational outcomes, health and wellbeing, and inclusion. These spill over at the country level in the form of nation building, social cohesion, and diversity.

However, emerging markets historically faced substantial challenges in formalizing and commercializing their creative wealth. Broken creative value chains paired with a weak enabling environment have created a fragmented landscape with high costs of production of creative products and limited local and global distribution and monetization channels for artists from emerging markets. The fragmented nature of the sector also means there is limited coverage and enforcement of institutional frameworks to protect creative assets (intellectual property), limited public promotion of the sector, and a lack of available infrastructure, financing, and skills to develop the industries.

Enter disruptive technologies

Partly triggered by the challenges that creatives faced in developing and marketing their products during the pandemic, the adoption of emerging digital technologies is opening new avenues to produce, distribute, and monetize content. Drastic reductions in the costs of media recording technologies, such as cameras and microphones, have also helped more artists purchase equipment.

Consumer-facing digital technologies such as music streaming (Spotify, Pandora), movie streaming and production platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime), creator tech applications (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook), and e-commerce (Etsy) ― paired with mobile money solutions ― have similarly lowered barriers to entry for talent discovery, distribution, and drawing income from creative content.

For example, musicians in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda previously relied on live shows for most of their income earnings, but digital platforms such as Mdundo have enabled more than 90,000 artists in those countries sell their music to global audiences.

Importantly, disruptive technologies have enabled the creative industries to become an investable sector for the first time in many emerging markets. Digital platforms are enabling artists to track earnings and provide pathways for new forms of income generation, such as brand promotion and advertising. New technologies also support technological and legal barriers to production and thereby protect intellectual property.

Evidence about the potential effects of digitalization on protection of creative assets from developed markets highlights that appealing licensed streaming alternatives can thwart piracy rates. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), a relatively nascent blockchain technology that tokenizes and records digital assets on a digital ledger, help enforce copyright protections and enable artists to be rewarded for their work. These technologies also enable data generation on the creative industries, helping governments to understand the relevance of the creative industries and develop evidence-based policies to promote them.

The next frontiers

We are seeing the emergence of several pockets of excellence with the creative industries and the role of digitalization in amplifying them, or creating entirely new creative industries in emerging market. They include:

  • The re-emergence of Latin music has been driven largely by digital streaming and was spearheaded by a proactive private sector that sought to digitalize and address international demand. Latin music accounted for 5 percent of the total $12.2 billion recorded music revenues in 2020 in the U.S. market, achieving its highest revenues since 2005. The rise of Danny Ocean, a Venezuelan musician whose songs “streamed [their] way onto the airwaves,” is a case in point on how digital tools lower the barriers to entry for musicians to market their creative products.
  • Digitalization also created entirely new creative industries, such as the creator economy ― a software-facilitated economic ecosystem that allows digital content creators to earn revenue from their creative products. Leveraging affordable production technologies and creator tech applications, creative entrepreneurship has become a viable source of living and resulted in a number of economy-wide effects. Taking the example of the creator tech application YouTube, which directly and indirectly contributed around $875 million to GDP in India, and $710 million in Brazil, in 2020. YouTube also supported around 700,000 jobs in India and 122,000 jobs in Brazil. Creator tech applications have facilitated the emergence of new digital startups that support the creator economy, such as One Impression in India, a marketing platform for influencers that automates the brokerage of brand promotion contracts between creative entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to advertise their products.

The multiple benefits of developing a creative industry, paired with the unprecedented potential provided by digitalization, present opportunities for the sector to be transformed from a forgotten industry into a focal industry that supports economic growth and development. Yet much needs to be done to fulfill such promise. The industry needs a combination of investment by private and public stakeholders, including development finance institutions, and integration of the creative industries into the development ambitions of emerging markets. This could eventually help spur growth of their creative economies, create jobs, and in a broader sense lead to greater economic diversification.

WTO members welcomed at a meeting of the Committee on Trade and Development on 20 June the decision taken by the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to reinvigorate activities under the Work Programme on E-Commerce, with the aim of increasing the participation of developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs) in digital trade. The Committee also received updates on initiatives to increase capacity-building training activities in these countries and on the preferential treatment extended to LDC exports.


Participation of developing countries in e-commerce

WTO members expressed their readiness to reinvigorate the development aspect of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce, as instructed in the decision that ministers adopted at MC12 on 17 June. The decision also extends the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 13th Ministerial Conference.(1)

WTO members continued discussing a paper entitled “Global Electronic Commerce for Inclusive Development” tabled by India and South Africa in November 2021. The need to intensify discussions on ways of boosting the participation of developing countries in digital trade was emphasized by many members. India shared its experiences in creating a public digital infrastructure and invited other members to follow suit.More information on the paper can be found here.

Capacity-building activities for developing countries

The WTO’s Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC) presented its 2022 WTO Technical Assistance Annual Report, outlining how the WTO Secretariat delivered training activities to developing countries, LDCs and observer governments in 2021 despite the constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beneficiaries were able to improve their understanding of WTO activities, the report notes, and to play a more active role in the multilateral trading system. The number of women and government officials from LDCs taking part in training activities bounced back after a decline caused by the pandemic. The report can be downloaded here.

In addition, after a year with almost no face-to-face activities, ITTC said it was able to hold in early June the first in-person training course for government officials from developing countries and LDCs since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Preferential treatment for LDC exports

India said that it is providing duty-free access to LDC exports for 94.2 per cent of its tariff lines. India is the fourth most important destination for LDC exports, it added.

China noted that it would continue to work for the early entry into force of its improved duty-free treatment for 98 per cent of its tariff lines for LDC products, as announced in December 2021.

Regional trade agreements

WTO members took note of the notification by Seychelles of its accession to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) at the Committee’s dedicated session on regional trade agreements, which was also held on 20 June.

Future work

The Development Committee chair, Ambassador Usha Chandnee Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, informed members of her intention to consult with them on how to make progress on the work of the Committee. This includes fully implementing the Committee’s mandate to act as the focal point for the WTO’s development work. It also includes implementing a “Monitoring Mechanism” to centralize, within  the WTO, the analysis and review of the use of special and differential provisions for  developing countries. Detailed information on the work of the Committee is available here.

Date of the next meeting

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled for mid-November.

  1. WTO members will hold consultations in the WTO’s General Council to decide on the date and venue of the 13th Ministerial Conference. back to text

Binta sells vegetables at a Dakar market to support her family. By using a low-cost tablet as a simple point-of-sales application, she learns to think more strategically and improves her management skills. She reduces the inventory stocks of what doesn’t sell and orders more of what sells well. She identifies her best customers and prints receipts to keep their loyalty. Fast food and laundry shops owners use the app to keep track of who already owes them money to collect on their next visit. Sellers such as Binta no longer need to keep this valuable information in their head or write it down on a piece of paper. As a result, their confidence grows and their business expands. Above all, digital technology enables continued learning, improves skills, increases earnings, and the hiring of more workers.

“Digital Senegal for Inclusive Growth: Technological Transformation for Better and More Jobs” presents new data on enterprises and households adopting and using digital technologies. Senegal is the first country to implement the Firm Adoption of Technology survey developed by the World Bank.  Enterprises were asked about the range of technologies they use for specific tasks such as planning stock levels relative to sales or preparing farming land, and which technology they used most frequently for each business task. The data shows strong links between the use of technologies and higher sales, and better and more jobs.

Adopting technology yields significant benefits. Where mobile Internet is available to households, consumption levels increase by 14 %, and extreme poverty decreases by 10 % – and more jobs with higher earnings are created.  Enterprises using better technologies have higher productivity, generate more jobs, and have more unskilled workers on their payroll. Using more sophisticated technologies, such as a software application, rather than writing accounting or inventory control by hand, generates a 14-% increase in the number of workers on average. For informal microenterprises, using a smartphone per se does not create more jobs. What makes a difference is the specific use of digital technologies such as inventory control and point-of-sales software for oversight and planning, and having access to electricity and a loan.

Small, medium, and large enterprises in Senegal seeking to upgrade their technologies face three key obstacles: 1) financial constraints, making them unable to pay for digital technologies; 2) lack of skills and technical capabilities; 3) lack of demand, because of lack of information, and technology not adapted to user needs and skill levels.

What stops Senegalese firms from adopting more sophisticated technologies

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What stops Senegalese firms from adopting more sophisticated technologies

To support enterprises in creating better and more jobs, governments can play an important role in three areas.

Technology and skills upgrading policies: Access to information and technical assistance can support enterprises in adopting technologies and developing capabilities. Informal microenterprises willing to use these technologies should have access to government support programs. By filling out the Firm Adoption of Technology survey, enterprises can benchmark themselves against others of their size in their business area and assess the technologies and skills most useful for them. By using technologies appropriate for their skill level, workers can learn as they work, improve their skills, and increase their earnings.

Business environment policies: The competitiveness of specific value chains should be strengthened by improving coordination and promoting market access. Policies should focus also on improving conditions for entrepreneurs who create tools accessible to all, including to lower-income workers, such as apps using local languages and voice-activated apps for illiterate workers. Rather than requiring workers to upgrade their skills for difficult-to-use technologies, apps should be designed to meet current skill levels and allow workers to build them up.

New financing mechanisms: By tracking users’ spending history, digital technologies can facilitate the delivery of financing in smaller amounts, without burdensome collateral requirements. Larger amounts can be provided progressively based on a track record of on-time payments. Micro, small and medium enterprises that previously would have been denied credit can be financed with partial credit guarantees and new forms of equity investments. These types of financing are critical to generate more sales, and better and more jobs.

What is the promising good news? These findings have helped Senegal design its national program to accelerate the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises and job creation. The World Bank is supporting this program through its “Senegal Jobs, Economic Transformation & Recovery Project.”

Efficient public policies require an ongoing process of learning from experimentation. Share your thoughts on how to improve support for digital technologies to create better and more jobs!

WTO members successfully concluded the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva on 17 June, securing multilaterally negotiated outcomes on a series of key trade initiatives. The “Geneva Package” confirms the historical importance of the multilateral trading system and underlines the important role of the WTO in addressing the world’s most pressing issues, especially at a time when global solutions are critical.

 

Round-the-clock negotiations among delegations produced the “Geneva Package”, which contains a series of unprecedented decisions on fisheries subsidies, WTO response to emergencies, including a patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, food safety and agriculture, and WTO reform.

“The package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is, in fact, capable of responding to the emergencies of our time,” said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “They show the world that WTO members can come together, across geopolitical fault lines, to address problems of the global commons, and to reinforce and reinvigorate this institution. They give us cause to hope that strategic competition will be able to exist alongside growing strategic cooperation.”

DG Okonjo-Iweala expressed her conviction that “trade is part of the solution to the crises of our time” and noted that the WTO “can and must do more to help the world respond to the pandemic, tackle environmental challenges and foster greater socio-economic inclusion.”

The package adopted by members include:

  • an outcome document (WT/MIN(22)/W/16/Rev.1);
  • a package on WTO response to emergencies, comprising:
    • a Ministerial Declaration on the Emergency Response to Food Insecurity (WT/MIN(22)/W/17/Rev.1);
    • a Ministerial Decision on World Food Programme (WFP) Food Purchases Exemptions from Export Prohibitions or Restrictions (WT/MIN(22)/W/18);
    • a Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics (WT/MIN(22)/W/13); and
    • a Ministerial Decision on the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WT/MIN(22)/W/15/Rev.1)
  • a Decision on the E-commerce Moratorium and Work Programme (WT/MIN(22)/W/23)
  • an Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (WT/MIN(22)/W/22).

In addition, ministers adopted two decisions – on the Work Programme on Small Economies (WT/MIN(21)/W/3) and on the TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints (WT/MIN(21)/W/4) – and a Sanitary and Phytosanitary Declaration for the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference: Responding to Modern SPS Challenges (WT/MIN(22)/W/3/Rev.3).

Ministers also agreed on a process for addressing longstanding calls for reform of the WTO.  The Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN/(22)/18) commits members to an open, transparent and inclusive process overseen by the WTO’s General Council, which will consider decisions on reform for submission to the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13).

All documents can be found here.

Acknowledging the “vital importance of agriculture,” DG Okonjo-Iweala noted that differences on some issues, including public stockholding for food security purposes, domestic support, cotton and market access “meant that we could not achieve consensus on a new roadmap for future work.” However, she added, “members found a renewed sense of purpose: they are determined to keep at it on the basis of existing mandates, with a view to reaching positive outcomes at MC13.”

Her full remarks are here.

The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 12 to 17 June 2022. Initially scheduled to end on 15 June, the ministerial gathering was extended by two days to allow more time for negotiations and reaching agreements. Co-hosted by Kazakhstan, the Conference was chaired by Timur Suleimenov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Kazakh President.

In his closing remarks, Mr Suleimenov thanked the DG for never giving up. “Her determination, her leadership, her perseverance made all the difference. Dr Ngozi, the WTO owes you a great debt.”

He told members: “This week, you have all contributed to making what seemed impossible come to fruition. We have all engaged in frank and sometimes very difficult conversations. We may have not achieved everything that we set out for, but we have delivered, and this is something that all of us should be proud of.”

“Congratulations to you all. Congratulations on going beyond your national interests and looking to the common good that the WTO embodies, and in doing so, carrying out our shared responsibility to restore confidence in this organization. It is so much needed in these difficult times,” he added.

MC13

The Ministerial Conference requested the General Council to hold consultations with a view to deciding on the date and venue of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13). The Chair recalled that the Decision on the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce contains an understanding that MC13 should ordinarily be held by 31 December 2023. Two proposals – by Cameroon and the United Arab Emirates – have been received to host the ministerial gathering.

Bishkek-based sewing enterprise expands its business worldwide through ITC support.

For almost three decades, “Sabrina-Amika”, a Kyrgyz sewing company, has been producing women’s clothing under the brand “DiSORELLE “and successfully distributing it in the Eurasian Economic Union.

DiSORELLE’s team, along with 200 other Central Asian small businesses, has gained new e-commerce and business skills by participating in the International Trade Centre’s e-commerce training programme under its EU-funded Ready4Trade project.

Since its rebranding in 2016, DiSORELLE’s progress has been gradual and constant, producing around 5,000 ready-to-wear units monthly.

“We want to create a thriving, expanding, and profitable business that brings success to all around us,” says Nevena Bondarenko, the CEO of the company. “We have implemented the ISO quality management system, our products are consistent in quality and have been successfully sold in the Eurasian Economic Union,” she adds.

Before joining the Ready4Trade project, DiSORELLE had experience with selling their products online, mainly on marketplaces Wildberries and Lamoda.   Thanks to ITC’s e-commerce coaching, DiSORELLE was able to optimize their website, create new social media accounts on YouTube and Instagram, and improve their listings.

DiSORELLE also was also able to create an eBay store as part of the eBay Central Asia Hub, a joint initiative with USAID, and started selling to the European Union and US markets.

Kirill Bondarenko, DiSORELLE’s business development director, says: “The special rates provided by DHL for project participants are a magic wand for the entrepreneurs in Kyrgyzstan. Standard shipping rates are significantly higher.”

He adds on the overall coaching experience: “Prior to the start of the project, we had limited e-commerce activities. Through individual support, we reviewed our business, starting from website photos and digital materials to packaging, shipping and delivery. The ITC Trade Map tool is also very useful to understand our export potential. It was a pleasant surprise to realize that we, as a Kyrgyz garment producer, have a zero rate for exports to the EU.”

“No doubt, our participation in the Ready4Trade Central Asia project was noteworthy as we could expand our online sales channels and explore new potential markets, especially when you consider the financial losses caused by COVID-19 pandemic,” Nevena explains.
About the project

The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is a joint initiative of the European Union and the International Trade Centre. It aims to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations.