The Internet Society and the African Union Commission unveiled a new set of Guidelines that highlight how privacy protection and the responsible use of personal data are critical factors in building greater trust online and in advancing the digital economy in Africa.

Dakar, Senegal, May 9, 2018

The Personal Data Protection Guidelines for Africa launched today at Today at the Africa Internet Summit in Dakar, Senegal were jointly developed by the Internet Society— a global non-profit organization that promotes the open development, evolution and use of the Internet — and the African Union Commission to facilitate the implementation of the AU’s Convention on Cyber Security and Data Protection (known as the Malabo Convention), adopted in 2014.

The Guidelines recommend a range of actions for governments, policy makers, citizens and other stakeholders to take at the regional, national, organizational and individual level. Among the key recommendations for governments is that they should respect and protect individuals’ rights to privacy online and offline.

“Recent global events have showed us that the lack of appropriate protection for personal data can have a profound impact not just on individuals but also on society at large, to the point of endangering democratic systems,” said Dawit Bekele, African Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

“These Guidelines explain how people can take a more active role in the protection of their own data as well as the role that other stakeholders, including governments and legislators, have in ensuring the proper use of data.”

Two key principles of the Guidelines urge all AU Member States to: recognize privacy as a foundation for trust in the digital environment and prioritize the sustainable and responsible use of personal data in the digital economy.

In addition, there are recommendations for citizens who are concerned about their data and privacy including:

  • Using the Internet and other sources to inform themselves about the risks and benefits of the digital economy or their online activities. This includes being aware of agreements they make when they sign up for “free” services or use social media platforms that may profit off their data.
  • Understand and exercise their rights, and act, when needed. There is a corresponding role for governments to empower individuals to do so by ensuring citizens know how to exercise their rights under privacy and personal data protection laws.
  • Develop their capabilities to protect their interests online. Supervisory authorities and governments should take steps to ensure that service-providers and product vendors are transparent about their business models and product capabilities, so consumers can make informed choices about the privacy implications of products and services.

“The Malabo Convention is the first step towards developing national legislative frameworks for cybersecurity and data protection in Africa.

The guidelines launched today provide a path forward for the member states that have signed the convention, and hopefully encourage more countries to join,” said Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society Division,  African Union Commission.



New report spotlights gender-sensitive trade policymaking in the East African Community.

East African nations can harness their trade policies to help empower women economically in the region, thanks to improvements in education, employment and other key areas, according to new research released by UNCTAD and funded by the Netherlands through TradeMark East Africa, a trade promotion agency.

The report – East African Community Regional Integration: Trade and Gender Implications – analyses the impact of East African Community (EAC) regional integration on women’s wellbeing in five of the six EAC countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda.

UNCTAD also released an advocacy document called Advocating for gender-sensitive trade policymaking in the East African Community, which makes concrete recommendations to better guide trade policies to the benefit of women across the bloc, based on the findings of the report.

Embedded with specific objectives and monitoring indicators, UNCTAD’s recommendations target eight areas:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Access to resources
  • Unpaid care and domestic work burden
  • Decision-making
  • Gender policy at the national and regional level
  • Gender mainstreaming in trade policy
Trade and Gender

“This new analysis is another UNCTAD contribution to the debate on how we, together, can make trade policy more gender-sensitive, and pave the way for more inclusive prosperity that leaves no one behind,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

TradeMark East Africa’s chief executive officer, Frank Matsaert, said: “We will continue facilitating women’s empowerment through support of delivery of practical solutions to challenges that affect women entrepreneurs who trade across borders in East Africa.”

Policy and practical ideas

The report looks at gender and trade issues in five EAC countries (the sixth, South Sudan, joined in September 2016) to assess the impact of regional integration on women’s employment and quality of life. It underlines the importance of putting in place policies to address gender inequalities and ensure that women fully benefit from international trade.

“The analytical work in this report is accompanied by practical ideas,” Dr. Kituyi said.

Among the key recommendations are closing the gender gap in secondary and tertiary education and putting in place skill development programmes to enable women to match what is needed to work in higher-value-added sectors.

A regional credit mechanism could be established to support women entrepreneurs across EAC countries, the report says, since existing country-level mechanisms have proved insufficient and not uniform.

Gender chapters could be included in any future free trade agreements the region will engage in. UNCTAD experts recommend the establishment of a regional platform to exchange best practices among EAC member countries as well as a uniform monitoring tool to check the implementation of the 2017 EAC Gender Equality and Development Bill, an important piece of regional legislation on gender equality.

Women and regional integration

Home to 150 million people, the EAC was founded in 2000 by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi joined in 2007, and South Sudan in 2016. The UNCTAD report examines the impact of regional integration and overall trade openness on women’s employment patterns.

Tariff liberalization in the EAC export markets led to an increase in women’s employment share in manufacturing firms in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, while women workers in Burundi were negatively affected. Production workers – those performing simple tasks such as maintenance and assembly line work – benefited the most, with little improvement for women in white-collar jobs.

There has been a shift in economic activity away from agriculture towards services, and to a lesser extent, to industry. The shift in employment structure was relatively weak, however, especially for women: 96% of women in Burundi, 76% in Kenya, 84% in Rwanda, 71% in Tanzania, and 77% in Uganda are still employed in agriculture.

In the EAC, women are predominantly self-employed or are contributing family workers, the two forms of vulnerable employment: this applies to 97% of women in Burundi, 73% in Kenya, 84% in Rwanda, 80% in Tanzania, and 83% in Uganda. Women also account for a higher share of informal employment.

“Gender equality is not a natural outcome of the development process and there is a need to proactively promote gender equality policies,” Dr. Kituyi said.

Education, land and credit

For example, the two largest economies in the region – Kenya and Tanzania – registered the highest levels of gender inequality among the five EAC members studied, according to the 2015 edition of the Gender Inequality Index issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Adult literacy and primary education enrolment rates have increased in the region since the creation of the EAC in 2000, with women’s literacy reaching 90% of men’s in 2015, outstripping the sub-Saharan average of 77%. However, access to secondary and tertiary education continues to be limited, especially for women.

The introduction of equal property rights has not sufficiently reduced the gender gap in land ownership. Only 51% of women in Burundi, 35% in Kenya and Uganda, and 46% in Rwanda are landowners.

Access to credit through a financial institution remains limited. Family or friends continue to be the most widespread source of loans. In Kenya and Uganda, for example, around 18% of men and only about 14% of women borrowed from a financial institution.

Building partnerships

Women also shoulder a higher share of unpaid care work than men. This, in turn, limits the number of hours they can devote to paid work, constrains their mobility and limits their access to market resources and information.

“Building partnerships is indispensable for bridging information gaps which we have seen hinder women in participating in trade,” Lisa Karanja, TradeMark East Africa’s senior director for business competitiveness, said.

“We have simplified information and partnered with public and private institutions to create information communication technology (ICT) platforms whereby women can access information through their phones or in physical information centres located at border crossings across East Africa.”

The research was conducted by UNCTAD’s Trade, Gender and Development Programme. UNCTAD is committed to using trade and development policies to tackle inequalities worldwide. Addressing gender inequality and promoting women’s empowerment is a critical part of its work.




As the proliferation of technologies risks leaving Africa further behind, the World Bank is betting on “digital economies” as a way for the continent to leapfrog over old development pathways. But as the world grapples with the potential consequences of rapid technological change, even insiders say the strategy is a gamble.

Launched by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation last month, the new strategy seeks to help African governments follow in the footsteps of countries such as India and China, by capitalizing on the billions of online interactions that take place every day.

While investment in the area has historically been weak, a Devex analysis found that as of March 2018, approximately $2 billion worth of projects awaiting approval in the World Bank’s pipeline could fall into the category of Africa’s digital economy, including projects focused on public policy, service delivery, and skills development.

Discussions are already underway with a number of African governments — and pilot projects are set to be announced at the World Bank meetings in October.

“Fundamental change is taking place in virtually every industry … [and] supply chains are being disrupted,” Atul Mehta, director at IFC, told Devex.

“The traditional path to development is probably going to get disrupted … But the digital economy potentially offers an alternative.”

The strategy kicked off during the bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., with a high-profile event that brought together African entrepreneurs and investors, as well as LinkedIn Chief Executive Officer Jeff Weiner, and Nigerian businessman and philanthropist Tony Elumelu.

Bank insiders admit the approach is shrouded in uncertainty, but say it could be the continent’s best chance for success.

“The stakes are high,” stressed IFC chief Philippe Le Houérou, speaking at the event.

“We cannot afford to wait and see how the new model [of development] evolves and then join the gang, because you may fall behind — and then it will be much harder to catch up.”

Q&A: Microsoft 4Afrika regional director on skills gaps in Africa’s digital transformation 

While access to the internet and mobile technology is spreading rapidly in Africa, some are concerned that the expansion is not working for all. Microsoft 4Afrika Regional Director Amrote Abdella, tells Devex that new technologies need to close the skills gap and help small businesses grow if much-needed advances are not going to leave people behind.

The problem

As the traditional development trajectory from agriculture to manufacturing to services is disrupted, experts warned that African countries will need to find an alternative pathway.

Technology is part of the problem, as the shift toward automation threatens to cut low-skilled manufacturing jobs. But it could also be part of the solution: A study by Deloitte predicted that expanding internet access in Africa to match levels in high-income countries could enhance productivity by as much as 25 percent, generating $2.2 trillion in gross domestic product and more than 140 million new jobs.

India is often held up as the poster child for the digital economy, which IFC defines as “the economic activity arising from billions of online interactions every day between people, businesses, governments, machines, and processes.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set his sights on a trillion dollar digital economy capable of generating jobs and economic growth both within India and for export.

However, while Africa currently has the fastest growing proportion of internet users, it still has the lowest levels of internet access in the world, with 75 percent of the region’s population offline, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Of those online, the majority connect via their mobile phones and do not have access to high-speed services.

The lack of connectivity infrastructure, including reliable electricity, is a major barrier to internet expansion, along with protectionist government policies and issues of affordability which make the sector unattractive to investors.
The World Bank has been working to address these issues for a while, but the new digital economy strategy marks a greater and more holistic push to get African governments to embrace the digital boom — or risk being left behind, IFC’s Mehta said.

Although the best alternative to the traditional development pathway is not yet clear, he cited a precedent in the mobile phone revolution that swept across the continent in the past decade, leapfrogging over old technologies such as landlines. The World Bank and IFC were early backers of mobile phones in Africa despite skepticism from some parts of the institution, he said, and the gamble paid off.

While the hope is that the same will be true for the digital economies agenda, the World Bank and IFC will take a similarly cautious approach as it did with phones, he said — testing the model in a few countries and assessing take up, before scaling accordingly.

The strategy

The strategy consists of three foundational elements to support African governments in creating the right conditions for the digital economy.

The first involves strengthening digital infrastructures, such as broadband cables and mobile networks, and building toward universal internet access. According to Omobola Johnson, honorable chair at the Alliance for Affordable Internet and Nigeria’s former minister of communication technology, infrastructure remains the biggest hurdle to connectivity in Africa. It is a challenge that will require mobilizing major sums of money from both the private sector and government, she said, potentially via multilateral development banks as “core catalytic funders” to “crowd in the others.”

An estimated $10 billion a year is needed to close the universal access gap, according to the latest figures from the World Wide Web Foundation, yet multilateral development banks have only invested 1 percent of their total commitments to ICT projects since 2012.

The second element of the strategy involves building out government and private sector “platforms” to operationalize the benefits of the digital economy — for example, expanding access to financial services through fintech, and enabling e-commerce and digital payments. As part of that, the World Bank wants to expand digital identification. An estimated 1.1 billion people live without proof of identity, something the bank is already working on.

The third pillar of the strategy works around supporting tech startups and entrepreneurs to create jobs, and develop new products and services for the African market.

Since the digital market in Africa is still nascent and plagued by challenges, it offers an ideal “test case” for IFC’s so-called “cascade” approach, which requires the organization to go into risky environments and build markets, according to Mehta.

“Where traditional IFC thinking is that you go and help the private sector do what it’s already doing better … here, it is more about shaping the direction in which the economy develops, because there is no market, so you have to start at first principles,” he explained.

Creating new digital markets will require the World Bank and IFC to develop a “set of new tools,” Mehta said, aimed at “bridging that gap between commercial and non-commercial money,” in order to get the private sector to invest in projects that have no immediate commercial payback — or which serve those unable to pay.

Blended finance is one of the main instruments IFC will deploy, but Mehta said the institution will need to be careful to ensure these tools do not distort the market.

“The subsidy part must be minimized … and concessionality has to disappear over time,” he said.

While it is hoped the private sector will be the driver of the digital economy, “the government has a lot to do in terms of facilitating and putting in place the enabling policies and regulations,” said José Luis Irigoyen, senior director for transport and information technology at the World Bank.

This is where bank expertise and loan financing come in: Its ability to play a “convening and facilitating role” and to “forge partnerships and risk sharing between public and private partners” would be especially important, he finished.

Mexico’s Red Compartida or “shared network” project is a prime example of the World Bank and IFC working together to promote financing and remove barriers. The project is building an open access, wholesale telecom network, that covers the majority of the country and can be rented by telecom companies, thereby cutting down costs and expanding coverage. The head of the project attended this year’s World Bank Spring Meetings  to brief African leaders.

Irigoyen also mentioned the “dig once” policy, which mandates the inclusion of broadband pipes during the construction of other infrastructure, an approach it has been urging African governments to adopt. So far, 8,228 kilometers of fiber optic cable have been laid along bank-financed energy transmission lines in Africa, he told Devex.

Supporting entrepreneurs

Once the infrastructure is built, investment needs to flow to tech entrepreneurs, according to Johnson, who is also a senior partner at TLcom Capital, a venture capital firm investing in technology companies in sub-Saharan Africa.

“When we talk about the digital economy it’s about building businesses on top of this digital infrastructure … There are lots of entrepreneurs [in Africa] doing interesting and innovative things, but when it comes to the capital required to grow their businesses it really takes them too long to find,” she said.

Investors are missing out on the “huge untapped market” of African tech companies, Johnson said — partly because many African entrepreneurs “don’t speak the language required for investment,” which is where the bank’s strategy to support incubators and accelerators could help.

It is also because African investors remain risk averse and tend to prefer investing in “something you can touch and see,” such as real estate over technology, which “is still a very new thing for the people who have capital in Africa.”

Here, the multilateral development banks could help with a shift in thinking, the former minister added.

IFC has been investing in the enterprise ecosystem in Africa through direct support — such as the recently announced $8.6 million equity investment in Kenyan startup “Africa’s Talking” to scale its model providing software developers with technology infrastructure and support.

It has also seeded investment in venture capital funds to support tech companies across the continent, including helping Partech Ventures launch a 100 million euro ($118.5 million) fund, which is likely to become the largest venture capital fund for digital technology startups in sub-Saharan Africa, said Mehta.

Developing digital skills

The dearth of highly-skilled tech developers on the continent poses another challenge to the digital economy strategy, according to Seni Sulyman, vice president of global operations at Andela, which trains African software developers “to bridge the divide between the U.S. and African tech sectors.”

“People do not believe that Africa is a place where you find high-end software developers,” he said.

While global tech companies are in desperate need of human capital, he continued, they don’t see Africa as a viable place to recruit from, let alone house their business. Considering the continent’s rapidly growing youth population, this is a missed opportunity.

The World Bank and IFC strategy discusses promoting digital skills through mentoring, angel investors, incubators, accelerators, office co-working facilities, and venture capital funds. One example is the IFC fund that supported Andela with early-stage capital, allowing it to build its highly exclusive training program for Africans as “technology leaders,” who have gone on to work for top international companies. Google also recently signed a partnership with Andela to train 15,000 Africans in digital skills.

“By showing that one of the most challenging parts of the tech ecosystem can be done by Africans at scale,” Andela makes the case for additional investment in the continent and encourages other companies to set up there, Sulyman said.

“Capital always follows talent,” so increasing the tech talent pool will attract follow-on capital and investment with digital technology acting as “the beachhead,” he finished.

But the World Bank’s gamble on building digital economies in Africa comes with a number of risks. As resources are diverted to the cause, not everyone is convinced the region’s digital momentum can be sustained, or that the challenges of limited internet access, poor infrastructure, and low average purchasing power can be overcome.

Fears that technological advancement will only serve to displace more jobs also persist. A digital economy could widen inequality further, if not managed with an eye toward inclusivity, Mehta explained. So it is important that it serves African consumers — and that tech companies, engineers, their products, and profits, remain largely within the continent.

“As long as you’re setting up the business to cater to the African consumer in Africa that’s good.  What’s bad is if the businesses are not being developed for the African consumer … Or if all the profits are being sucked out of the country, that’s equally bad,” Mehta said.

This is why the bank’s strategy places such an emphasis on creating “entrepreneurial ecosystems,” he continued, since “you want the money to revolve in that ecosystem in the same geography.”

There are also concerns about cybersecurity and data protection, as highlighted by the recent Facebook scandal. Ibrahim Mayaki, chief executive officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Developmentwrote that national legislation must keep pace with the transferral of citizens’ data online, and the growth of internet businesses.

For Mehta, however, the “more fundamental risk” for Africa, which outweighs all of these, is being left behind.

“Given that no one has a crystal ball saying exactly how the world’s going to develop, you want to at least give yourself a chance — so you can have this alternative path to development,” he said.

World Bank’s Irigoyen agreed: “Africa has a lot to gain, but also a lot to lose if they are not part of this effort.”


 Sophie Edwards is a reporter for Devex based in London covering global development news including global education, water and sanitation, innovative financing, the environment along with other topics. She has previously worked for NGOs, the World Bank and spent a number of years as a journalist for a regional newspaper in the U.K. She has an MA from the Institute of Development Studies and a BA from Cambridge 

Author: Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly,    Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development &  Director – Africa Growth Initiative


Recent projections indicate that several Sub-Saharan African countries will experience robust economic growth over the next five years. By 2023, around one-third of the region’s economies will have grown at an average annual rate of 5 percent or higher since 2000.

And yet, as The Economist observed last year, Africa’s development model “puzzles economists.” After all, only four of the continent’s high-growth countries are natural-resource dependent. Nor is overall performance due primarily to industrialization, as traditional development models would have predicted. What, then, explains the strong economic performance?

New research by the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) might hold the key to answering that question. According to the forthcoming book Industries Without Smokestacks: Industrialization in Africa Reconsidered, there is evidence to suggest that Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing a more profound structural transformation than we think.

Africa owes this structural transformation not to traditional industries, but to new developments in tradable services and agro-industries that resemble traditional industrialization. Aside from horticulture and agro-business, these new industries include information and communication technology-based services (ICT) and tourism.

This is a departure from the historical norm. Traditionally, as Harvard University economist Dani Rodrik points out, economies that have sustained robust growth rates without relying on natural-resource booms, “typically do so through export-oriented industrialization.” But in Africa, manufacturing as a share of total economic activity has stagnated at around 10 percent, with economic activity moving from agriculture to services. And because the rate of productivity growth in services is only about half that of manufacturing, the aggregate productivity gains needed for sustained growth have fallen relatively short.

This process of premature deindustrialization is not unique to Africa. But it is more consequential for the continent, given the scale of its development challenges. Owing to its young, rapidly growing labor force, Africa now needs to create more than 11 million jobs in the formal economy every year. But as Nobel laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has warned, Africa cannot replicate East Asia’s manufacturing-led model, so the question is whether it can leverage modern services to achieve economic development.

As these smokestack-less industries have grown, they have generated new patterns of structural change that are distinct from those of East Asia’s manufacturing-led transformation. But, if properly stewarded, they could play the same role in Africa’s development as manufacturing did in East Asia.According to Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for 2018, a Brookings Institution report previewing the results of Industries Without Smokestacks, services exports from Africa grew more than six times faster than merchandise exports between 1998 and 2015. In Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa, the ICT sector is flourishing. In Rwanda, tourism is now the single largest export activity, accounting for about 30 percent of total exports. Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal are all integrated into global horticultural value chains, and Ethiopia has become a leading player in global flower exports.

Manufacturing-led growth proved to be an effective development model in East Asia for three main reasons. First, manufacturing has higher productivity than agriculture, and it can absorb a large number of moderately skilled workers migrating out of the agriculture sector. Second, manufacturers benefit from technological transfers from abroad, so their productivity rises in line with global trends. And third, the shift to manufacturing in East Asia was oriented toward exports, which allowed production to be scaled up.

According to John Page, one of the editors of Industries Without Smokestacks, Africa’s growing service sectors share these same characteristics. In addition to being tradable, they have higher productivity and can absorb large numbers of moderately skilled workers. And like manufacturing, they also benefit from technological change and economies of scale and agglomeration.

Moreover, Africa’s smokestack-less service sectors have the added advantage of being less vulnerable to automation. Notwithstanding automation’s many benefits, it presents challenges for countries where the overriding priority is to create a sufficient number of formal-sector jobs.

While economists have been increasingly confident that Africa’s development model will be different from that of East Asia, they have been less certain about what shape it will take. An industries-without-smokestacks model offers one possible answer.

From a policy perspective, African leaders should explore more ways to support these industries’ growth, either through targeted reforms or by incorporating them into national industrialization strategies and broader development agendas. The development of industries without smokestacks can occur alongside efforts to develop those with smokestacks, thus offering a multifaceted approach for Africa to achieve structural transformation.




By ITU News

Broadband connectivity brings great promise to the world’s poor and underserved populations — as it allows wide access to services in areas as diverse as finance, commerce, education, health, and governance, which can enhance well-being, create new opportunities for innovation and employment, and boost economic growth.

But how can we ensure that the advances of the 21st century do not bypass the 3.8 billion people, often the poorest of the poor, who do not have broadband digital connectivity?

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2018 Spring Meeting held in Kigali, Rwanda, brought together 34 leaders from government, industry, international organizations and academia, to address that very question.

“Rwanda is a perfect example of what’s possible when dedicated leadership, careful policy management, and an active private sector come together to build a digital future”–Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General

Established in 2010 as a top-level advocacy body promoting broadband as an accelerator of global development, the United Nations’ Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development recently set seven targets for 2025 to “Connect the Other Half” of the world’s population. These targets aim to expand broadband infrastructure to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On Sunday, 6 May, Commissioners took part in onsite sessions of four Broadband Commission Working Groups: Vulnerable Countries, Epidemic Preparedness, Digital Entrepreneurship and Digital Health.

The Working Group on Vulnerable Countries discussed and identified recommendations to support increased access to broadband services in these countries; the Working Group on Digital Health addressed ways  governments can use digital health to address non communicable diseases to improve Universal Health Care, and the Working Group on Epidemic Preparedness identified best practices for epidemic preparedness. This was followed on Monday, 7 May, with the full-day annual Spring Meeting of the Commission.

During the sessions, President Paul Kagame highlighted Africa’s need for broadband infrastructure as well as accessible and affordable internet access.

“Africa’s economic transformation requires broadband infrastructure with an emphasis on both access and affordability,” he said. “The reality is that all other digital services whether in commerce or education or healthcare run on top of broadband. Africa’s size, geography and settlement patterns mean that we must rely on a variety of different technologies to deliver broadband including satellite, fibre optic and mobile. It is up to us to lead the way in driving innovation both in policy and business models in order to speed up the provision of broadband where it has been slowest to reach.”

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao also stressed the need to bridge the digital divide.

“Broadband is driving today’s digital transformation, opening new frontiers and new possibilities across the world.…,” said Mr. Zhao. “As coverage and speeds are increasing and more people than ever are accessing advanced digital services, we are faced with the challenge of finding the funds to bridge the digital divide. 3.8 billion people are unconnected, many of them right here in Africa.”

Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA, highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships to bridge the global digital gap. “As we will soon see the first 5G networks rolling out,” he said, “it is more important than ever that governments and industry work together to ensure that all citizens benefit from this new era of hyper-connectivity.”

Houlin Zhao praised the host country as an excellent example of leadership and collaboration.  “Rwanda is a perfect example of what’s possible when dedicated leadership, careful policy management, and an active private sector come together to build a digital future,” he said.

The Broadband Commission comes on the eve of the Transform Africa Summit, a high level platform bringing together over 4,000 participants to discuss the disruptive but also the enabling and strategic role of ICT for the rapid transformation of Africa.



The Commission will address two priority themes:

  1. The role of science, technology and innovation in increasing substantially the share of renewable energy by 2030
  2. Building digital competencies to benefit from existing and emerging technologies, with special focus on gender and youth dimensions

The twenty-first session will also review the progress made in the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

In addition, the Commission will hear presentations on national science, technology and innovation policy reviews.

Participants will include ministers and representatives of governments, civil society, the business community, academia and international and regional organizations. Most member States will be represented by high-level delegations.

The first day will consist of an opening ceremony and two high-level sessions:

  • The role of science, technology and innovation in supporting sustainable and resilient societies, to be held in the morning
  • The Impact of rapid technological change on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, to be held in the afternoon

The opening of the session will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, 14 May 2018.

The meeting will be served in a paper smart manner.


Register online for this meeting here!


Industry, government and UN convene for Spring 2018 meeting of Commission in Rwanda on eve of ‘Transform Africa’ Conference

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development at its 2018 Spring Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda 6-7 May, committed to concrete actions that will advance the roll-out of broadband around the world – and with it, much-needed digital connectivity, which is necessary for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the two-day event, 34 Commissioners – representing the broadband industry, governments and United Nations agencies –  convened to discuss key issues related to the role of broadband in advancing the SDGs.

The meeting was held at the invitation of H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, an association which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide.

President Paul Kagame said: “Africa’s economic transformation requires broadband infrastructure with an emphasis on both access and affordability. The reality is that all other digital services whether in commerce or education or healthcare run on top of broadband. Africa’s size, geography and settlement patterns mean that we must rely on a variety of different technologies to deliver broadband including satellite, fibre optic and mobile. It is up to us to lead the way in driving innovation both in policy and business models in order to speed up the provision of broadband where it has been slowest to reach.”

On Sunday, 6 May, Commissioners took part in onsite sessions of four Broadband Commission Working Groups — Vulnerable Countries, Epidemic Preparedness, Digital Entrepreneurship and Digital Health. This was followed on Monday, 7 May, with the full-day annual Spring Meeting of the Commission.

During the meeting, the Working Group on Vulnerable Countries, chaired by Commissioner Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative, United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), issued a synthesis report on broadband for national development in four least developed countries (LDCs) – Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu. The report draws on evidence from country case studies and an UN-OHRLLS/ ITU report on achieving universal and affordable Internet in the least developed countries.

The synthesis report highlights that despite their different market environments, broadband coverage has increased notably and become more affordable for users in all four countries over the last few years. However, it also raises concerns that the demand for broadband and its productive use in least developed countries has not matched the growing supply. The full report is scheduled for release 12 July 2018 during the United Nations High Level Political Forum in New York.

“I was honoured to join President Kagame in hosting this meeting of the Broadband Commission as we examine how we can accelerate the adoption of mobile broadband globally, but more importantly, how we can better equip society to participate in the digital world,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “As we will soon see the first 5G networks rolling out, it is more important than ever that governments and industry work together to ensure that all citizens benefit from this new era of hyper-connectivity.”

This year’s meeting took place on the eve of the Transform Africa Summit 2018, being held 7-10 May, enabling the Commission to make available to Summit participants, its valuable expertise.

The 2018 Spring Meeting also comes on the heels of the release by the Commission of its new 2025 Targets, which seek to fast-track the digital connectivity of the millions worldwide that remain unconnected.

Comprised of leaders from government, industry, international organizations and academia, the Broadband Commission was established in 2010 as a top-level advocacy body promoting broadband as an accelerator of global development. The Commission is chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú. In September 2015 it was re-named the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the specific purpose of working to help achieve, through the power of broadband connectivity, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Additional information about the Broadband Commission Working Groups:




Think Super Mario Bros., but with an Afghan twist. This is how Afghanistan’s first generation of female coders explain their abilities as game-makers after uploading more than 20 games on digital app stores this year.

More than 20 young women in the western city of Heart have established themselves as computer experts, building apps and websites as well as tracking down bugs in computer code.

Like the team of Afghan schoolgirls who rose to fame last year when they competed in a robotics competition in the United States, the coders show what reserves of talent there are to be tapped when Afghan girls are given a chance.

“Coders can work from home and it is in this process women are building a new career path for themselves and for the next generation,” said Hasib Rasa, project manager of Code to Inspire, which teaches female students coding in Herat.

One of the games designed by the all-female team has caught the eye of developers and gamers as it illustrates the scourge of opium cultivation and the challenges the Afghan security forces face as they try to stamp it out.

The 2-D game “Fight Against Opium” is an animated interpretation of the missions that Afghan soldiers undertake to destroy opium fields, fight drug lords and help farmers switch to growing saffron.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest source of opium but it also grows saffron – the world’s most expensive spice – which has long been pushed as an alternative to wean farmers off a crop used to make heroin.

Despite a ban, opium production hit a record in 2017, up 87 percent over 2016, according to a U.N. study.

Khatira Mohammadi, a student who helped develop the anti-opium game, said she wanted to show the complexities of the drug problem in the simplest way.

“We have illustrated our country’s main problem through a game,” said Mohammadi.

At the institute, more than 90 girls and young women, wearing headscarves and long black coats, are trained in coding and software development, a profession seen by some in conservative Afghanistan as unsuitable for women.

In Afghan society, it is unusual for women to work outside the home. Those who do, are mostly teachers, nurses, doctors, midwives and house helpers.

After the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, women regained freedom to work in offices with male colleagues – but many consider working as a software developer a step too far.

Hasib Rasa said girls are encouraged to design original player characters, goals, and obstacles that reflect Afghanistan’s ethos.

The course is exclusively aimed at females, aged 15-25, who are unable to pursue a four-year degree due to lack of funds or hail from families where they are prevented from enrolling in co-education schools.

“In Afghanistan the ability to work remotely is a key tool in the push for equality,” said Rasa.




In the wake of last week’s International Girls in ICT Day, ITU News is placing a spotlight on Bénin, whose government is showing leadership in the area of gender and tech. This article includes extracts of a video report produced and broadcast by the Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin for the occasion of International Girls in ICT Day, which Bénin is celebrating on Friday.  

The information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Bénin has been male-dominated for the duration of Nadine Kiki Migan’s career.

“It’s true that many feel that telecommunications is a man’s job,” says Ms Kiki Migan, head of the technical center at Libercom SA, a mobile operator in Bénin. “The proof is, when I was in school, I was the only girl out of ten. When I was a trainee, I was the only girl out of 50. Today, I am the only woman among men.”

But today, the status quo in Bénin is set to change.

For the second year in a row, the Government of Bénin has organized activities on Girls in ICT Day to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in ICT.

This year, girls and young women have followed training sessions on how to code, and set up a  network to support each other in their pursuit of ICT careers.

This video report, produced by the Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin, features women in leadership positions delivering inspiring messages for Girls in ICT Day.

“There is nothing taboo about ICTs,” affirms Chakirath Akambi Talon, an analyst in network engineering at Bénin Télécoms Infrastructures. “You just need to have the will to make a decision, and to try to understand how that sector works, too. And to be strong, not to be afraid of the obstacles.”

Zérose Gokou, head of network services at Bénin Télécom Services declares: “It is a choice I made as a way to rise to a challenge. A personal challenge and a challenge with regard to the female sex to restore, improve or change the image we have of women by saying: ‘These jobs are for men, and these other jobs are for women.’ I wanted to defy this tendency by choosing ICTs.”

“This year [for Girls in ICT Day] we will train a certain number of young women how to code. … We will show them that coding is not just a field for men.” — Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, Minister of the Digital Economy and Communication

Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, Minister of the Digital Economy and Communication explains: “The digital sector is booming. It is a sector of opportunity. If you like working in this sector, you can do great things for your country, for your continent. What I want to say to young women who perhaps are hesitating today and are wondering if they are well-suited for this sector, is yes, they are well-suited to this sector, and they should not hesitate to embrace these careers”.

“This year [for Girls in ICT Day] we will train a certain number of young women how to code. We will show them that this is not wizardry,” adds the Minister. We will show them that coding is not just a field for men. That women are well equipped (…) with the same capacity as men to approach these technical problems”.

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Why we must rethink our outdated ideas about international trade



Globalization has changed.

The globalization we knew and understood for most of the 20th century resembled more the globalization that emerged from the Industrial Revolution than it did the globalization we experience today. That globalization was based on the movement of goods across borders—measurable, limited by physical infrastructure, and parried by policies such as tariffs. But globalization today is about more than trading goods; it’s about trading ideas and, increasingly, services. Our 20th-century paradigms of globalization are ill-equipped to understand what cross-border trade means for the present and near future. Globalization has changed, but the way we think about it hasn’t.

The one thing that hasn’t changed about globalization is that it is a phenomenon with the power to change the world. If you trace the share of world income going to two groups of countries—India and China in one group and the G7 countries in the other group—back to the year 1000, you’ll see that back then, India and China had about half the world’s GDP, and the G7 had less than 10 percent of it. That makes sense: back then, basically everybody was poor and agrarian. India and China had half the world’s people, pretty much as they do now, and the G7 had only about 11 percent.

Keep tracing for eight centuries, up to 1820, and not much changes. The G7 share goes up a little bit because Canada and the United States appeared and were populated, but the change is modest. I like to call that period the Great Stagnation, and of course it was stagnated because there was no modern growth.

Starting around the 1820s—the decade economists Kevin H. O’Rourke of Oxford and Jeffrey G. Williamson of Harvard have pegged as the start of modern globalization—the G7 share starts to swell. Over the course of about 170 years, it goes from about one-fifth up to about two-thirds of world income. That’s how powerful globalization—the movement of goods across borders—was.

A millennium of global wealth

Click below to see how the global balance of wealth has shifted over the centuries, including a marked decline in the G7’s share in recent decades

Baldwin 2016

The conventional understanding of globalization really dates back to around the time of this momentous swing in the fortunes of the G7. The British classical economist David Ricardo described the theory of comparative advantage in 1817. His theory, and the paradigms of globalization that have succeeded it, did a nice job of explaining why the G7’s share of global income kept going up. But as I point out in my 2016 book, The Great Convergence, something changed.

Starting around 1990, the G7’s share of world GDP fell to under 50 percent in two decades, back to the level it was at in the 1900s. And the ideas we used to understand globalization while the G7’s income share was growing don’t work as well to explain it while that share is shrinking. Something fundamental changed around 1990, and that’s what I call the new globalization. It requires a whole new way of thinking about globalization, one attuned to the 21st century rather than the 20th or 19th.

The new globalization

Globalization is arbitrage. What is arbitrage? It’s taking advantage of a variation in price between two markets. When the relative prices of some goods are cheap in Mexico, that’s what they sell to us, and when other goods are relatively cheap in the US, that’s what we sell to them. A two-way, buy-low/sell-high deal—that’s arbitrage, and trade theory is all about what the direction of arbitrage, and especially arbitrage in goods, is.

But goods aren’t the only thing that can move across borders; there can also be an arbitrage in know-how, and there can be arbitrage in labor. The new globalization has to do with knowledge crossing borders. Future globalization will have to do with labor crossing borders—not people, but labor services.

Globalization as arbitrage is constrained by three costs: trade costs, or the cost of moving goods; communication costs, or the cost of moving ideas; and face-to-face costs, or the cost of moving people. In the preglobalized world, production and consumption were geographically bundled. In particular, people were tied to the land since the land was what provided most people’s living, and if they needed anything—candles, horseshoes, clothes, whatever—it had to be made within walking distance because it was too expensive and dangerous to move anything anywhere.

But with the advent of steam power, the cost of moving goods fell. Production and consumption could be spatially unbundled. It’s what I call the first unbundling, and when things are made in one place and consumed in another, we have trade. So that’s the classic old globalization: things started to be made in one place and consumed in another.

When everybody is tied to the land and production is tied to who or what is within walking distance, the whole world’s economic geography is very even. It’s dispersed, and that dispersion makes it hard to innovate. On the demand side of innovation, what use is it coming up with new, clever techniques when you’re only producing for two dozen families? And how easy is it to develop new techniques when you’re the only blacksmith in walking distance?

Once you could sell to the world market, it became profitable to adopt scale-intensive techniques, and those techniques were very complicated. To coordinate the complication and save on communication costs, all the stages of production were put within walking distance of each other. It became worthwhile to innovate, and for that reason, modern growth took off just about exactly the same time modern globalization took off.

But the growth stayed local. The innovations did not spread around the world because it was hard to move ideas, especially complex ideas such as manufacturing, and that’s how we got what historians call the Great Divergence, the disparity between developed economies and undeveloped ones.

On a visit to Nagoya, Japan, in 1987, I was invited to tour the Toyota factory there. It was huge—something like 24 football fields inside a single building. You needed a go-kart to get around the place, and all around it outside was what they called Nagoya city—all the suppliers who made the different components for the cars, and all basically within walking distance. Everyone whose work went into the cars had to be physically near the factory because communication costs made it so difficult to coordinate production.

Eventually, though, information and communication technology (ICT) lowered the cost of moving ideas. The ICT revolution made offshoring organizationally feasible, and vast wage differences between countries made it profitable.

There has been a sense of fragility, of vulnerability—an economic insecurity that’s been generalized, and this has been going on for two decades.

ICT allowed people to disaggregate spatially—a second unbundling, this time an unbundling of the stages of production. Now everyone who worked on any part of a Toyota didn’t have to be within walking distance of the plant in Nagoya. Now the stages of production could move to different countries, in particular low-wage countries. This has many names: offshoring, outsourcing, fragmentation, vertical specialization. It’s a widely discussed and studied phenomenon, but I think we tend to discuss and study the wrong things about it. We focus on the flows of jobs because that’s what we can measure, but that’s not what has changed the world.

What changed the world was the offshoring of know-how along with the jobs. Before the ICT revolution, knowledge stayed local. But once firm-specific know-how from manufacturing firms in G7 countries was taken to nearby emerging markets and combined with low-wage labor, the nature of competition in manufacturing was never the same.

At one time, if you were building, for instance, a truck, you had to choose between doing it with high-end technology in a high-wage environment such as Germany, or with low-end technology in a low-wage environment such as China. Now, American or German or Japanese companies can take their technology to China and combine high tech with low wages. That’s because knowledge is what economists call a nonrival factor, which means you don’t have to choose between either using it in Germany or using it in China. You can use it in Germany and China.

To really understand how this changed the nature of globalization, consider a sports analogy. Suppose we have two football teams, one that needs a quarterback but has too many linebackers, and one that needs a linebacker but has too many quarterbacks. If they sit down and trade players, both teams win. It’s arbitrage in players. Each team gets rid of players they need less of and gets players they need more of. That’s the old globalization: exchange of goods.

Now let’s take a different kind of exchange, where the coach of the better team goes to the field of the worse team and starts training those players in the off-season. This is very good for the coach because he gets to sell his knowledge in two places. You can be sure that the quality of the league will rise, all the games will get more competitive, and the team that’s being trained up will enjoy the whole thing. But it’s not at all certain that the players of the better team will benefit from this exchange because the source of their advantage is now being traded.

In this analogy, the better team is, of course, the G7, and not surprisingly this has led to some resentment of globalization in those countries. The new globalization breaks the monopoly that G7 labor had on G7 know-how, and apart from the fact that it undermines the comparative advantage in manufacturing that the US and other G7 countries had, it simply seems unfair. When your company, say GM, shuts down a stage of production and moves it to Mexico using the technology that justified your $24 per hour salary and starts paying somebody $24 per week, that just seems unfair.

But another, less obvious source of resentment is that the new globalization affects economies with a finer degree of resolution. International competition can reach inside the factory for an individual stage of production and offshore it. It’s not at all clear that what’s offshored lines up with high skill versus low skill. And yet labor unions and government policies are still organized by sector or skill group or both.

New globalization’s impact is more sudden than old globalization’s because it’s driven by ICT, not by tariff cuts or the construction of new ports and container ships. It’s more individual because it’s no longer felt across entire sectors and skill groups, but in individual stages of production. It’s more unpredictable. It’s hard to know which of these stages will disappear and why. And it’s more uncontrollable because governments have very good policies for controlling people and goods crossing borders, but they don’t have good policies for controlling firm-specific know-how crossing borders.

So there has been a generalized feeling in goods-producing sectors that no matter what job or skill set you have, you can’t really be sure whether your job won’t be next. There has been a sense of fragility, of vulnerability—an economic insecurity that’s been generalized, and this has been going on for two decades.

The future of globalization

To date, the gains and pains of globalization and automation have been felt mostly by the manufacturing sector. In the future, the gains and pains will be felt by professional and service-sector jobs. That’s because digital technology is going to lower the third constraint to globalization as arbitrage: the cost of moving people around, or facilitating face-to-face interaction.

Service jobs have been shielded from globalization because they require people to be face-to-face, or at least near each other. For most services, you can’t put them into a container and ship them from China to New York. So global competition was deflected by the shield of high face-to-face costs.

Digital technology, however, is opening a pipeline for direct international wage competition. In other words, labor from countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, or the Philippines can come and work in G7 offices directly through telecommunications. There are a number of ideas and technologies that are making this increasingly feasible:

Telemigration. Many people work from home on a regular or semiregular basis. Does it matter if they’re working from home in Chicago or if they’re working from home in Beijing? As remote work becomes more technologically and culturally mainstream, perhaps we won’t be offshoring entire jobs, but rather the stages of production of white-collar jobs—specific tasks that can be done remotely for cheaper than they’re done locally.

Virtual globalization websites. With the growth of the gig economy, there’s been a corresponding growth in online hubs where people can say, “I’m a freelancer. I can make logos. I can design web sites. I can copyedit articles.” But the gig economy can also apply to what have been traditionally thought of as office jobs, so you might also see “I can do your accounting. I can process your expense forms.” Upwork, Freelancer, Amazon Mechanical Turk, and Fiverr are all in this business, and LinkedIn is getting into it as well.

In China, freelancing is a huge part of the employment picture because China overproduces university graduates—Chinese universities graduate 8 million people a year, but most of the jobs available locally are in manufacturing. So along with all the sites listed above, there’s also Zhubajie, a Chinese service that was recently branded Witmart for English speakers, and it’s offering its services internationally.

Machine translation. Many of us have become, or at least have the ability to be, multilingual, thanks to the computing power of our phones. An English speaker can sit down in a restaurant in France, Germany, China, Spain, and many other countries and order dinner using Siri as a translator. For more conversational applications, Skype Translator can provide real-time voice translation in eight languages.

Machine translation is going to transform global competition in services, creating a talent tsunami. Let’s suppose 1 percent of the world’s population is part of the talent pool for a particular occupation. That would mean there’s something like 144 million people who are truly fit for work in that field, but maybe only 40 million of them speak English—for now. This year or next year, the other 100 million will speak passable English, and the year after that they’ll speak perfect English, because these translation services continue to improve. The supply of people willing and able to offer their services in every major language will explode.

This technology will be felt beyond telemigration too. Linguistic differences are estimated to hinder trade by something like 150 percent. When language barriers go down, barriers to trade do as well.

Advanced telecommunication technologies. A final technology that’s helping to close the distance between collaborators in different countries is “telepresence”—immersive videoconferencing environments that use high-resolution, life-size screens, dozens of speakers and microphones, and often tables that look the same on both sides, so a group in New York and a group in Mumbai, India, could have the feeling that they’re almost in the same room. There are even telepresence robots, which make it possible for someone operating remotely to actually move around an office or other workspace and have a physical presence there. So far this hardware is pretty expensive, and therefore only used at the high end of industries such as consulting and banking—or, in the case of robots, medicine—but all it has to do is get cheaper, and it will change things.

Reaching epiphany

Humans have brains that are built to think about things linearly—to understand motion in nature, to look at two points and calculate how long it would take to walk from one to the other. But technological growth is exponential. That mismatch gives rise to the cognitive pattern known as Amara’s law, which states that we have a tendency to first overestimate and then underestimate the significance of new technologies. For instance, we landed on the moon, and people assumed the next step would be colonizing Mars. We’ve still never set foot on Mars, but in the meantime, we’ve put countless technologies into space that have changed the experience of life on earth.

There’s a point at which the exponential path of technological growth crosses the straight line of human expectation, and it’s the point at which the real power of this technology that we’ve alternately over- and underestimated fully dawns on us. I call it the “holy cow” moment. We haven’t quite reached it yet with ICT and its meaning for globalization. When we do, it will not be the result of a single, sudden event.

In the old days, globalization came and shut down the big factory in town, and thousands of people were put out of work, and it was a great tragedy, but it was the result of someone’s conscious choice. I don’t think the next phase of globalization will happen that way.

I think it’ll happen more the way smartphones insinuated themselves into our lives. Now, think about the iPhone. Ten years ago, smartphones barely existed. Five years ago, they were mediocre phones, maybe good music players with short battery lives and not much else because the Wi-Fi was so bad everywhere you couldn’t do much with them. Today, everybody uses them to do everything. No one made that decision. No one said, “OK, now we’re going to let iPhones change our lives, disrupt our dinner conversations, and change the way we conduct business meetings.” It happened one convenience, one cost saving at a time, and it changed our societies.

That, to me, is how future globalization will occur: one convenience at a time, one job at a time—not being replaced in every variety of office. Nobody will ever decide to have a job apocalypse in which we replace all the service-sector workers or all the doctors or all the lawyers. But it’s already happening in media. It’s happening in law. It’s happening at the low end of medicine. And I think we’re getting close to the holy-cow moment.

Richard Baldwin is professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, as well as director of the Centre for Economic Policy Research and founder and editor-in-chief of This essay is adapted from a lecture hosted by Chicago Booth’s Initiative on Global Markets in March as part of its Myron Scholes Global Markets Forum.





By Dr William Lehr, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are accelerators, amplifiers, and augmenters of change. They make it feasible to more flexibly and dynamically reconfigure, and hence transform all aspects of how resources are produced and used, fundamentally restructuring economies and redefining how we interact with each other and the world around us.

ICTs facilitate real-time communications, data analysis and decision-making, accelerating the pace of economic change and increasing market volatility.

The digital revolution brings risks and benefits

Digital platforms for eCommerce have revamped industry supply chains, expanded markets, and given rise to the sharing economy. The Internet enables information sharing and access to global knowledge stores on an unprecedented scale, holding great promise for expanded access to education.

“Developing countries need the right ICT infrastructure, skilled workers, and institutional and policy frameworks that reflect best-practice learning but also are responsive to local context constraints and opportunities.”

The capabilities ICTs empower have the potential to drive significant economic and jobs growth for those that are able to harness ICTs effectively and embrace the new modes of operations required.

However, the realization of benefits is not guaranteed. The social and economic adjustment costs of responding to the forces of digital transformation are significant and may exacerbate inequalities between haves and have-nots. While ICTs can expand labor force inclusion, they may also accentuate the importance of skills gaps and undermine traditional policy safeguards based on legacy employment models.

The forces ICTs unleash have global impact that affect all nations, all sectors, and everyone – regardless of whether one is actively engaged or merely a spectator in the digital transformation underway. For example, everyone on the planet is affected by global climate change which will be accelerated if less developed countries follow in the footsteps of the developed world with similar energy consumption behaviors predicated on abundant use of fossil fuels.

For a brighter future, ICTs have to be part of the solution, enabling more efficient and greener energy generation and usage models.

The right infrastructure, policies, and skills are key to success

With their potential to facilitate the rapid re-organization of how production and consumption are organized within firms, across industries and markets, and globally, ICTs can help developing countries leap-frog legacy growth trajectories.

However, too often the promise is unrealized because inadequate attention is paid to ensuring that the requisite complementary elements for success are in place.

Selecting and sustaining a welfare-enhancing growth trajectory for developing economies in a more turbulent and volatile global economy is a difficult dynamic challenge.

Developing countries need the right ICT infrastructure, skilled workers, and institutional and policy frameworks that reflect best-practice learning but also are responsive to local context constraints and opportunities. Effective ICT-fueled development strategies need to be continually learning and adapting.

Better information for better decisions

ICTs expand options, but they also increase uncertainty. They have the potential to provide society with expanded tools to impact our destiny, but making good choices requires having access to high-quality research to inform our collective decision-making.

In confronting these challenges, the global academic community needs to build capacity and promote capabilities for multidisciplinary, cross-cutting expertise to identify and manage the implementation of successful strategies within nations and across the global community of nations.

Our understanding of how to best make use of ICTs to ensure sustainable growth is expanding, but our collective knowledge gaps are large and new developments bring new questions.

The need for international collaboration

At the WTDC-2017 in Buenos Aires and in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ITU-D in October 2017, the ITU published ICT-centric economic growth, innovation and job-creation, prepared by an international team of scholars documenting current thinking about how ICTs can contribute to realization of the Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

Following up on this initiative, the ITU is organizing a workshop to be hosted May 22-23 at the London School of Economics that will bring together scholars and development stakeholders to discuss research results and strategies for building the multidisciplinary, global decision-making capabilities that are needed.

Hopefully, this will be another step forward toward what will need to be an on-going effort in international collaboration.




By Dr George Barker, London School of Economics (LSE), London, UK; and Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

In October 2017, the ITU published ICT-centric economic growth, innovation and job-creation, prepared by an international team of scholars documenting current thinking about how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can contribute to realization of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In what follows I provide a short synopsis of Chapter 4 on the role of Government.

Government policy affecting ICTs can have a major effect on achieving the SDGs. There are four key areas where governments need to establish legal, regulatory, budgetary, and policy frameworks to ensure that ICTs make an optimal contribution to sustainable development.

  1.    Measure and monitor progress

The first area relates to outcome measurement, policy review and target setting. Four of the SDGs are outcome-relatedand highlight important drivers of the well-being of individuals’ over time including: poverty reduction (SDG 1), gender balance (SDG 5), inequality reduction (SDG 10) and economic growth (SDG 8).

Governments need to accurately measure progress achieved against these outcome SDGs over time, better investigate the causes for this progress, set targets for improvement, and monitor the effectiveness of policy.  ICTs and so-called “big data” have a major role to play in this.

  1. Use ICTs to enhance government performance

The second broad area relates to the organization of Government itself. ICTs can play a central role within Government itself in particular to ensure two of the most critical or foundational SDGs are achieved, namely: “peace, and justice for all” (SDG 16), as well as peaceful and mutually productive “global partnerships” (SDG 17).

E-government is the term given to the use of ICTs in facilitating better government performance. Governments need to embrace innovation and utilize ICTs to deliver effective services and engage people in decision-making processes so as to establish lasting foundations for peace and justice for all.

The 2016 United Nations E-Government Survey highlighted a positive global trend towards higher levels of e-government. ICTs can also help in UN SDG 17 that seeks to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”. This is because ICTs are a means for information sharing and communication between countries. A key challenge in this area, however, is ensuring states cooperate to address cyber-security threats including cyber-war.

  1. Adopt enabling policies for ICT markets

The third broad area relates to government policy directlyaffecting ICT markets. There are two broad subsets of related ICT markets here: i) ICT infrastructure markets, and ii) ICT applications and content markets.  Together these ICT markets can make a significant contribution to two key SDGs: SDG 9 which aims to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”; and SDG 12 which aims to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”.

Governments need to accurately measure progress achieved against (…) SDGs over time, better investigate the causes for this progress, set targets for improvement, and monitor the effectiveness of policy.

On the role of Government in ICT infrastructure markets, attention focuses on the scope for considerable improvements in relation to state ownership of key telecommunications network assets, and in the extent and quality of spectrum licensing, competition law, access regulation and universal service obligations (USO). In ICT applications and content markets the focus is on the government’s role in intellectual-property rights (IPR), privacy law, and platform regulation generally.

For example, governments who own the state telecommunications network need to provide credible commitments to convince potential domestic or foreign ICT-market entrants that neither government policy nor the regulatory environment will expose them to excessive regulatory risk or uncertainty. At the same time, governments should avoid abusing its control of assets.

  1. Adopt enabling policies for non-ICT markets

The fourth and last broad area is Government policy in relation to non-ICT markets that nevertheless indirectly affect ICT adoption, investment and utilization.

There are three main categories of relevant non-ICT markets highlighted by the remaining UN’s SDGs, where Government policies currently impose barriers to securing a greater ICT contribution to sustainable development:

  1. Markets that meet basic needs, including markets for: food (SDG 2), water (SDG 6), energy (SDG 7) and the services of cities and settlements (SDG 11).
  2. Markets for human services: including health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4);
  3. Markets for environmental goods and services that are currently either missing, or need to be significantly improved: including climate (SDG13), oceans and seas (SDG 14) and terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15)

Government policy on these non-ICT markets are having major and largely unforeseen effects in limiting the benefits of ICT. In non-ICT markets policies designed for the pre-Internet era appear to be preventing the development of smart agriculture and smart food markets, smart water markets, smart energy markets, smart cities, smart transport, smart health, smart education and smart manufacturing markets–which are both more efficient and environmentally friendly.

For this reason, governments urgently need to review and adapt their existing policies on non-ICT markets to ensure that they better suit the Internet era, thereby enabling cutting-edge ICTs to play their role in sustainable development.


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eTrade for all

For this April edition, we will take you to the UNCTAD eCommerce Week, just as if you were there. The eCommerce Week has become over the years the leading global forum where public and private stakeholders, as well as civil society, engage in a conversation about the development implications of the digital economy.

The 2018 theme, “Development Dimensions of Digital Platforms”, was  timely matched by the last revelations on the data-driven economy. 

The eCommerce week 2018 edition in a nutshell, it is:




Don’t miss  relevant Twitter posts (@UNCTAD and  #UNCTADeWeek ) and watch all the interviews on the UNCTAD Youtube channel!

But the April edition of the newsletter, it’s also the latest news about your eTrade for all initiative!

eTrade for all is pleased to introduce its first Year in Review 2017-2018. The report gives you an insight into the eTrade for all initiative, from its creation in July 2016, to the growing global partnership it is today. It also highlights some of the milestones of the year as well as the way forward.



“MyeT4a” – A new private collaborative tool to connect: (Launched during the eCommerce Week 2018)

Being part of this community means having a preferential access to this e-commerce one-stop shop: through a secure path, MyeT4a members will be able to take full ownership of the tools available. 


And so much more… ! don’t miss our Partners corner, our News and Publications section… a wealth of information on e-commerce at your fingertips!

Fore more news and insights- you can read the full version of the April Newsletter here!




UNECE is actively supporting the trading community to gain the maximum benefits from the e-trade revolution. Through its participation in the UNCTAD e-Commerce week 2018 from 16-20 April, UNECE highlighted that enabling digital technologies for greater e-trade requires a cohesive approach by policy makers that addresses trade facilitation reforms.

Digitalization of trade has evolved over the last decades. Global business-to-consumer e-trade accounted for an estimated US $1.2 trillion, while the global business-to-business e-trade exceeded US $15 trillion in 2013. New technologies are engulfing international trade both in the developed and developing countries. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) or transformative technologies like Blockchain are now ‘buzzwords’ for e-trade. The digital technologies bring about efficiency in trade transactions including payment and regulatory processes (for example goods clearance or e-consignment notes – eCMR) and potentially reduction of trade costs. However, these benefits are not automatic.

Against this backdrop, experts during the sessions organized by UNECE jointly with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and International Trade Centre (ITC) titled ‘Fostering effective trade logistics in a digital world’ highlighted that these technologies need interoperable standards. Ms. Ivonne Higuero, Director, Economic Cooperation and Trade Division of UNECE said, “If businesses speak the same language with respect to these nuts-and-bolts issues, it is much easier for them to engage in e-commerce”.  In addition, simpler and appropriate regulations need to complement these technological developments. For the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) it is even more challenging to embrace e-trade due to lack of access to regulatory and commercial services in addition to operational constraints.

A host of technical standards for e-business and policy recommendations are already available and are in development. For example, the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), housed at UNECE, developed a recommendation and guidelines on establishing a Single Window, which has been used by many countries to establish Single Window. Another UN/CEFACT project titled ‘Integrated Services for MSMEs in International Trade’ facilitates the participation of MSMEs in international trade by bringing together the service providers in a digital platform.

Furthermore, UNECE is also attempting to identify how to use cutting-edge technologies such as Blockchain for trade facilitation. Through a white paper, it is also examining how this technology could be applied to the UN/CEFACT technical standards. Experts at a session on Blockchain for trade facilitation during the e-Commerce week, presented a few cases where blockchain proved successful. They included invoice financing, access to energy and food distribution to refugees.



One of the most unique aspects of blockchain is its high number of evangelists – people who believe blockchain can solve everything from global financial inequality, to the provision of ID for refugees, to enabling people to sell their houses without an estate agent. The enthusiasm to (over) promote the technology is also damaging its long-term prospects.

This level of evangelism is both unwarranted and damaging to the overall development work required to reap the benefits of distributed ledger technologies (DLT), of which blockchain is the best-known example. Truly innovative deployments of blockchain require a match between blockchain’s specific benefits and use cases that enable realization of these benefits, followed by dedicated hard work to get it right and embed in organizations and industries. It is not meant to be a workaround.

Based on our analysis of how blockchain is used in a variety of projects around the world and following interviews with selected chief executive officers, we found there are 11 questions, at most, that businesses need to answer to see if blockchain is a solution to some of their problems.

Example 1: Special effects companies – big files, bigger costs

Let’s look at the example of a special effects company and their software that is used by millions of game developers and industrial designers.

One of the main challenges these kinds of companies face is providing large-scale graphics processing units to render customer projects – these games require a lot of processing capacity and this can be an expensive process.

Blockchain technology could enable this company to tap into undiscovered possibilities to solve its business problem: completing more projects for less money.

The special effects company needs to access as much processing power as possible from a variety of processing units for the cheapest amount of money possible. Since most devices have consumer-grade processors already installed, everyone with a device could contribute their processing power for a fee. In short, when you don’t need the processing power, you can sell this down time to this special effects company that needs some extra processing power for their new game, and get paid for it (or receive a token on the blockchain).

The below flowchart has 11 questions that can help decide whether or not this special effects company needs to use blockchain:

Image: Creative Commons/World Economic Forum

Start with A – Are you trying to remove intermediaries or brokers?

The company doesn’t need a middle man to help them get this extra processing power (this is the move from A to B on the toolkit graph). Their assets are digital and there are no other companies managing the assets (move from B to C to D).

Since the transactions can take place overnight, they can move from D to E. Once a job is complete, the software company doesn’t have to store that data, so that gets them to F. Everyone can participate. Move from F to G.

Have you read?

The company has to prove that they paid you for this time, but they don’t have to know specifically who wrote the contract, so they can move from G to H to I. For the last steps, network needs to be able to control the functionality (for upgrades for example) and be public. This analysis shows that the application should select a public, permission-free ledger. This solution applies blockchain to allow distributed graphic processing units to be shared across the globe, reducing costs, and reducing waste from underutilized units.

Example 2: Preventing multiple medical insurance claims

If we take a different case study and examine the role blockchain plays within the medical insurance industry, we would see a different result. This industry wants to prevent multiple claims across different suppliers. They want to remove intermediaries that usually manage part of the relationship for insurers (move from A to B). The data is digital and the insurers want to have control over the patient data and store the transactions, not the private data within the claims (move straight from B to E). However, the solution encounters challenges when considered from the perspective of needing trusted sources and compliance. The medical industry is heavily regulated and requires insurance providers to provide detailed oversight of their activities, in particular with respect to the management of end-user data. The solution, therefore, fails at this point. DLT is not the best choice for the concept outlined.

This Q&A tool is intended to enable rapid initial analysis of whether blockchain is the right solution to a business problem. It is based on real-world experience of blockchain in a variety of projects across a variety of industries analysed by Imperial College London.

The framework has been reviewed and further developed by members of the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Blockchain and has been trialled through a variety of means, including with global chief executive officers (CEOs) at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos, Switzerland.

The hope is to bust the blockchain hype and encourage a practice approach by shifting focus to the business problem and away from a particular technological solution.

Our new report, Blockchain Beyond the Hype, is available here.




 Special event held within the Council of Administration (CA) draws postal regulators from across the world to consider future changes to the universal postal service – 26.04.2018


Matano Ndaro, co-chair of the CA’s Committee on Universal Service Obligation, Regulatory Affairs and Postal Regulation,

addressed the future of e-commerce in his opening statement.


“The cardinal responsibility of any regulator is to protect the consumer,” said Matano Ndaro, Director of Competition Tariffs and Market Analysis at the Kenyan Communications Authority in his opening statement at the Regulatory Forum held in Berne, Switzerland.

Ndaro, who is joint chair of the CA’s Committee on Universal Service Obligation, Regulatory Affairs and Postal Regulation, went on to discuss the future of e-commerce. He drew a comparison between past attitudes to e-commerce when customers had to “click, pay and pray,” compared to the present day with e-commerce continuing to grow rapidly in size, scope and value.

Titled, “E-commerce and financial models in embracing future changes to the universal postal service”, the conference was opened by Kenan Bozgeyik, Chairman, Council of Administration, who paid tribute to the Universal Postal Union for organizing the discussion.

In his own opening remarks, the Director General of UPU Bishar A. Hussein, said, “the postal community was a unique platform to address all the strategic challenges our sector is facing, whether operational, commercial or regulatory.”

He told participants that postal regulation was an important tool for effectively positioning the postal sector so it could take advantage of the opportunities, but also to maintain the critical infrastructure so that public policy objectives could be achieved.

The UPU chief quoted a UPU survey from 2017 stating that 43 per cent of respondents anticipated policy changes to the universal postal service provision (UPS). Respondents also noted that the cost of UPS, the startling growth of e-commerce and technological shifts were key drives for regulatory changes.

“This is why the topic of our conference today is particularly timely and relevant, as it will address the nexus between e-commerce and the universal postal service, examining both the impacts on regulation as well as the opportunities provided to sector players,” he said.

The universal postal service is perhaps the guiding philosophy behind the world’s postal sector. It ensures that the world benefits from a permanent, quality, basic postal service at all points in the territory, at affordable prices, taking into account both the needs of the population and national conditions.

According to UPU, 102 member countries have established a form of funding mechanism for UPS; however, the major source of funding comes from government subsidy and revenues, or both, from traffic in the reserved area. By contrast, specially created funds were the number one source of funding in Western Europe.

The one-day conference was separated into two panel sessions with the first focusing on e-commerce and the universal postal service: impacts and opportunitiesLater in the afternoon, panellists looked at new financial models for the universal postal service.




Since going online in April 2017, the initiative has seen its list of partners grow to 29 and continues to accompany developing countries on their journey to e-commerce-driven growth.


In just one year, the UNCTAD-led eTrade for all initiative has delivered impressive results, many of which took center stage at E-Commerce Week, the main global forum on the development opportunities and challenges of the digital economy.

First unveiled during UNCTAD’s last ministerial conference, held in Nairobi in July 2016, eTrade for all become operational on 25 April 2017 when the online platform was launched.

Since then, the initiative has been delivering on its promise to make e-commerce more inclusive, by bringing partners closer and offering increased and more transparent opportunities for collaboration.

The most visible outcome has been its major spin-off,  the UNCTAD Rapid eTrade Readiness Assessments, which diagnose the opportunities and challenges for e-commerce in least developed countries, providing a road map for moving ahead.

At total of seven assessments have already been carried out, and the latest three – for Liberia, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, and Myanmar – were showcased during the opening session of E-Commerce Week.


eTrade for all



Liberia’s assessment marked an important milestone because it was the first one done in Africa, home to most of the world’s least developed countries.

“Each assessment, and this is the beauty of the exercise, includes a list of concrete recommendations for governments,” UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said after presenting the reports.

Friends with benefits

Also noteworthy is the impressive growth of the list of organizations that are official eTrade for all partners, which now sits at 29.

“As an old African proverb says, ‘If you want to go fast, you can go alone. But if you want to go far, you have go together’,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said when he first presented eTrade for all in Nairobi.

A total of 21 eTrade for all partners organized sessions during E-Commerce Week, which attracted more than 1,200 participants from over 110 countries and more than 180 private companies.

In fact, almost half of the 60 or so sessions during the week were led by at least one eTrade for all partner.

Piecing the puzzle together

The novelty of eTrade for all is that it pieces together the fragmented approach organizations may feature in their work on e-commerce.

“Many organizations, including UNCTAD, are already contributing to increased e-commerce uptake. However, current efforts are highly fragmented and of insufficient scale,” Dr. Kituyi said when he unveiled the initiative. “Seizing the opportunities of e-commerce requires a much more concerted approach.”

By connecting those in need of assistance with those that can provide it, and by offering a clearer picture of countries’ needs to donors, eTrade for all is making e-commerce development work more effective.

During E-Commerce week, the initiative also unveiled its newest tool, called MyeT4a. This private collaborative space will allow for even closer interaction among partners and potential beneficiaries.

And improved effectiveness is key to increasing e-commerce uptake in many countries, especially the least developed, so that their citizens can also benefit from the huge opportunities offered by the $26 trillion industry, according to UNCTAD’s latest estimates.

While 60-80% of Europeans already shop online, in the world’s 47 least developed countries the share is still typically below 2%.



New WIPO Figures Show Highest-Ever Rate of Women Inventors, but Gender Gap Persists

Geneva, April 26, 2018

The fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and chemistry show the highest rates of women named as inventors in international patent applications filed via WIPO, new figures indicate, as World IP Day 2018 celebrates women driving positive change across the globe.

New data reveal that in total, women were listed in 31 percent of the 243,500 international patent applications published by WIPO in 2017, up from 23 percent a decade earlier (see Annex 1 PDF, Annex 1, PCT applications with women inventors for all data).

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said these new data show positive trends and underlined this year’s World IP Day theme “Powering Change: Women in Innovation and Creativity.” But he noted that a pronounced gender gap exists.

“Today we celebrate the innovative, creative accomplishments of women around the globe and across history who expand the frontiers of knowledge and culture,” said Mr. Gurry. “However, international patent applications are an important benchmark for measuring innovative activity in the contemporary, global economy – and anything less than full parity between men and women is an obvious cause for concern.”

animated gif 2018 World IP Day

Fifty percent of applications from the Republic of Korea listed at least one woman inventor, the highest among the 152 user countries of WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), followed by China (48 percent), Belgium (36 percent), Spain (35 percent) and the United States of America (33 percent) (Annex 2 PDF, Annex 2, Share of PCT applications with women inventors, 2017 for top 20).

Mr. Gurry said he was heartened by the comparatively high rates of women participating in the research-intensive areas of biotechnology (58 percent of all WIPO international patent applications in 2017), pharmaceuticals (56 percent), organic fine chemistry (55 percent) and food chemistry (51 percent) (Annex 3 PDF, Annex 3, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017).

Of the top 30 biggest corporate users of the PCT, Republic of Korea’s LG Chemicals had the highest rate of women listed as inventors with 73 percent (Annex 4 PDF, Annex 4, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017, by Company (among top 20)), followed by Switzerland’s F. Hoffman –La Roche (69 percent), L’Oreal of France (67 percent), USA’s Dow Global Technologies (63 percent) and Germany’s Henkel Kommanditgesellchaft Auf Aktien with 62 percent.

Among academic institutions, Republic of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea ranked first with 83.3 percent (Annex 5 PDF, Annex 5, Share of PCT applications with women inventors in 2017, by Academic Institution (among top 20)), followed closely by four Chinese organizations: Shenzhen Institute of Advance Technology (82.7 percent), Jiangnan University (82.5 percent), Tsinghua University (80 percent) and Jiangsu University (80 percent).

About World IP Day

WIPO’s member states initiated World IP Day in 2000 to raise public awareness about the role of IP in daily life, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the globe. World IP Day is celebrated annually on April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970.



By Mark Anderson

If they haven’t done so already, cyber attackers may soon be arming themselves with artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) strategies and algorithms. Before long, it may not be a fair fight if defenders remain naive to what AI and ML can do on both sides of the battle. So suggests a new report by IEEE and the Canadian tech consulting firm Syntegrity.

The report — stemming from a three-day intensive meeting last October of cybersecurity experts from government, the military, and industry — aggregates the group’s findings into what it calls the six “dimensions” at the intersection of AI, ML, and cybersecurity.

First, the report advocates ways to keep cybersecurity regulations and laws up to speed with the latest developments in the field. The report says that laws and legal precedents should be altered to encourage, not burden or discourage, continued research toward anticipating and countermanding next-generation cyberattacks.

Specifically, it notes, both copyright and export control standards need to be modified to allow security researchers to investigate cutting-edge cybersecurity questions without worrying about running afoul of outdated laws and regulations.

Brian David Johnson, Futurist in Residence at Arizona State University and contributor to the report, says cyberdefense research is no longer an academic exercise or incidental curio. Increasingly, he says, the severity, sophistication, and frequency of cyberattacks is making cyberdefense crucial to both the commercial and public sphere.

“We are starting to see cybersecurity and defense against cyber and digital attacks mature,” he says. “What we’ve seen over the last five years is increasingly larger, deeper, broader attacks. Not only is it raising this to the attention of people, it’s also becoming bad for business — and bad for the business of government.”

Hacked companies tend to keep to themselves after they’ve been hacked. And victimized companies keep silent to the detriment of all the other companies in their industry, and to the economy as a whole.

Report co-sponsor and professor of electrical engineering at West Point, Col. Barry Shoop, says one of the more significant recommendations from the report involved a widespread problem that has emerged when a company or government agency in any field tries to mount an effective cyberdefense.

“In the for-profit sector, say a financial institution, they are less willing and in some cases not willing at all to share data for the common good of everybody,” he says. “They’re not willing to share what has transpired, what the attacks against them were, what their defense was. Because there’s legal aspects, and there’s perception. They have stockholders, they have investors. So if they share that they were attacked and were unsuccessful, that knowledge could drive their stock price [down], could drive away investors.”

As a result, Shoop says, a cyberattacker can hit multiple companies or government agencies today and be assured that very little knowledge is shared between those targets that could help everyone respond more effectively to the attacker. Hacked companies tend to keep to themselves after they’ve been hacked, in other words. And victimized companies keep silent to the detriment of all the other companies in their industry, and to the economy as a whole.

Of course, the report comes hot on the heels of Facebook’s publicized tangles with Russian hackers — which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in testimony on Capitol Hill last week is best combatted with AI, even though that technology that may still take another 5 to 10 years to fully mature.

On the other hand, says Johnson, Facebook is hardly alone in providing a case study of the kinds of problems addressed in the report.

“Honestly, if you look at the past couple years, this report would have been released around the announcement of a large attack or breach, because it’s happening every month,” he says.

Yet, he adds, there’s an analogous problem that industry long ago figured out. And it could provide an important guide to tackling the cyberdefense problem too.

“The idea of having a clearinghouse is very popular in technology,” he says. “The place where you see it the most is in standards setting. Like coming up with the Bluetooth standard. Because if [industry] can come up with a Bluetooth standard, then everybody can work together.”

RELATED: Making sure AI is harnessed for good

So, just like competitors and sometimes even fierce rivals set down their differences to hammer out industry standards and technology roadmaps, Johnson says, government agencies or industry clearinghouses could also provide global, up-to-the-minute cyberattack intel for the common cyberdefense.

“[We recommend] setting up a national or international repository of clean data,” Shoop says. “You don’t necessarily know where it comes from, but you’ve seen the attack vectors, you’ve seen the response or lack of response. And so you can tune your system to be able to defend against those kinds of attack vectors.”

Shoop, who in 2016 was president of IEEE, hopes policy makers and industry will recognize the potential of establishing such a cyberdefense clearinghouse, all the more so when AI and ML algorithms demand rivers of data on which to train.

“We’re seeing a rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, in terms of attacks,” he says. “So the speed at which the attacks change is increasing substantially. So you need artificial intelligence and machine learning to defend against that, to match the speed of those attack vectors.”

Johnson says he’s optimistic that governments and industry can work together, in the ways the new report outlines, to fight cyberattacks.

“I’m an optimist, because I believe that people build the future,” he says. “This paper is all about actually getting people together to say, ‘Look, we’ve all been talking about this. We’ve talked about this at conferences, we’ve talked about this when we work together. Let’s get everybody together and start coming up with some solutions.”

The original version of this article first appeared in IEEE Spectrum. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.




Some 150 representatives from Posts, international organizations and the private sector gathered at the UPU Global Addressing Forum April 19 to discuss addressing innovations toward better delivery of e-commerce. (20.04.2018)

A participant captures the keynote speech given by Amazon U.S. Principal Project Manager, Christophe Charpentier, during the UPU Global Addressing Forum.


Hosted by the UPU within the Postal Operations Council, the forum had panellists from both the Post and private sector—including Amazon, Alibaba and Siemens—examine changing addressing needs in the context of growing cross-border trade resulting from online shopping.

“Accurate and efficient addressing system is a key component to timely delivery of postal items, especially in e-commerce business. Addressing that fails to meet international standards reduces the efficiency of the supply chain and incurs significant additional costs, which must be borne by our member countries,” said UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein during the forum’s opening.

Panellists touched on the price of bad addressing, as undeliverable items rack up costs as they are returned through the supply chain. Participants identified several urgent needs to prevent this issue, including the need for better communication between e-commerce platforms, origin Posts and destination Posts. This could include more detailed electronic data exchange between players and an international database that would facilitate the validation of addresses.

Mr. Hussein noted that, while the postal sector must find solutions that meet customer demands for flexibility in their delivery time and location, it cannot leave behind the many who lack a physical address altogether.

“We must also recognize that many people in the world do not have any form of physical address, which excludes them from all sorts of services, ranging from banking, emergency services, taxation and physical delivery of goods,” he said.

He added that UPU data shows only one-third of countries or territories update and provide detailed postal addressing data at street level, meaning much of the world’s population is left out of the modern global market.

Both designated postal operators and private partners recognized the Post’s role as an authoritative source of addressing, noting their prime position to implement innovations to further improve national addressing systems.

On the international front, they agreed the UPU was the best place to unite stakeholders and would have a role to play in ensuring an open system is available to the market, promoting international standards and prioritizing addressing in its global strategy.

In his closing remarks, UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz called on stakeholders outside the UPU’s membership to stay engaged in the conversation with Posts by joining the Consultative Committee, a UPU body that represents the interests of the wider postal sector and provides a framework for effective dialogue.


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