Studies show benefits of a more inclusive economic model
by ANOUSH DERBOGHOSSIAN, Gender Focal Point, World Trade Organization
Let us go back 12 years, to when the Aid for Trade Task Force was created. Gender was written into the initiative’s guiding principles: ‘Aid for trade should be rendered taking full account of the gender perspective. Donors and partner countries jointly commit to the harmonization of efforts on issues such as gender.’
Fast forward to today. It turns out that momentum on gender has been building. Some 87% of Aid for Trade donors surveyed for the Aid for Trade Global Review in 2017 have integrated women’s economic empowerment into their Aid for Trade programmes. Similarly, most of developing countries believe the programme can meaningfully contribute to women’s economic empowerment. All surveyed countries and Aid for Trade donors consider that it contributes to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While momentum is growing, a lot remains to be done. We also need to do it effectively.
WOMEN’S TRADE CAPACITY
Supporting the participation of women in international trade is one of its key components of the inclusive trade solutions many governments want to employ. Through Aid for Trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been focusing on women with the aim of building their trade capacity and using trade as a tool for their development.
Past Global Reviews have highlighted a broad range of areas in which Aid for Trade support is effective.
Some of the results show $1 of Aid for Trade is worth $20 of exports. That dollar has a positive, although implicit, impact on women’s economic empowerment because Aid for Trade is a tool for women’s development. As the initiative matures its impact is becoming increasing clear.
Since 2011 Aid for Trade has increasingly focused on women’s empowerment and through the global survey – one of the WTO’s main monitoring processes – we have a better perspective on policy trends related to development and women’s empowerment.
Gender was specifically addressed at the 2011 Aid for Trade Global Review, which highlighted a virtuous circle of efforts to improve women’s economic empowerment through trade capacity building.
Launched at the 2015 Global Review, ‘The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty’, joint WTO-World Bank Group publication, analysed how trade integration can positively impact women’s economic empowerment. One strong conclusion was that high trade costs fell heavily on least developed countries (LDCs), particularly on their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and also on women traders. This higher cost prices them out of international trade.
The 2015 Global Review also reported on impacts in female employment and examined how to include women into value chains and barriers facing women traders, especially in Africa.
Gender was a cross-cutting issue within the 2016-2017 Aid for Trade work programme. The latest edition of the At a Glance report launched at the Global Review in July 2017 has a plethora of information and analysis on this critical issue. The report clearly highlights the divides that prevent women from fully reaping the benefits of international trade.
These divides still exist and persist: in accessing the information and skills needed to export; in accessing and using of technology for global and regional value chain integration; in owning and managing firms. These are divides that can and are being addressed by Aid for Trade programmes. Developing countries are making progress in integrating gender perspectives into trade and development programming.
DIGITAL GENDER DIVIDE
The new Work Programme 2018-19 will go deeper into the issue and, among other topics, will focus on young women, women-owned firms and the digital gender divide.
Aid for Trade is geared up for women’s empowerment. To be sure that we are making a difference, we need data to track the impact of trade on women. There is insufficient information in that regard and we need to understand the links between trade and gender. For this purpose, the WTO and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are currently working to assess how Aid for Trade has benefited women in the past 10 years.
Similarly, the WTO is now partnering with the World Bank to undertake a deep and comprehensive publication on this issue, generating new data in this field. This is a very complex issue because it implies combining economic analysis with an understanding of the different national and regional contexts. The Aid for Trade monitoring exercise can potentially help here by tracking national policy trends and understanding the role of the private sector.
We are moving forward, making Aid for Trade work for women and ensuring it becomes a springboard for their economic empowerment. The question today is not if Aid for Trade provides economic opportunities for women, it is for how many it provides them. Determining how we can do more to make a difference is the challenge we need to take up.
Indian startups can now Make in India and sell in Europe. The programme aims to enroll over 200 Indian startups this year.
Two-and-a-half years ago, the Republic of Estonia launched an e-Residency programme, the first country in the world to do so, for foreign entrepreneurs looking to virtually set up their startups in the country.
Under the programme, the benefits to entrepreneurs include an Estonian government-issued digital ID, ability to register an EU company, access to business banking and payments services, and tools with which to digitally sign documents.
Speaking to YourStory from New Delhi, Varun Sharma, Head of Partnerships, e-Residency, Republic of Estonia, said there are more than 30,000 people who have signed up for e-Residency from more than 154 countries.
Estonia now beckons Indian startups to apply for the programme. According to the e-Residency press release, startups set up through e-Residency are ‘trusted location-independent EU companies’, which allows them to be run remotely from anywhere in the world with low costs and minimal hassles.
“Indian entrepreneurs can now run their micro-businesses not only in India but grow them with access to the entire EU market. e-Residency, therefore, stands for ‘Make in India & Sell in Europe’”, the release said.
It is worth noting that Estonia tops the chart of Europe’s most entrepreneurial countries as per World Economic Forum. It takes 15 minutes to establish a company online and three minutes to do the taxes. Being one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, it is considering its own cryptocurrency called Estcoin.
There are more than 1,200 Indians who are e-residents currently, and the Baltic nation expects this figure to grow exponentially in the coming years as the economic ties between Estonia, India and the European Union deepen further, said Varun Sharma. He added,
Estonia aims to reach out to the booming Indian startup community through a series of roadshows and industry tie-ups in the next 12 months. We hope to enroll over 200 startups during 2018.
The announcement coincides with the Estonian Entrepreneurship & IT Minister Urve Palo’s visit to India to discuss bilateral cooperation in the field of Cybersecurity, Digitalisation, e-Governance, and Smart Cities.
“I am very glad to be in India to strengthen bilateral cooperation and talk about the digital society of Estonia. A unique example of this is the e-Residency programme, which enables anyone in the world to start a European company. Thanks to this programme, the people of India can use the Estonian e-services and become virtual residents of Estonia. Our digital development has happened thanks to the government’s efforts in e-governance and cybersecurity, and of course, also our technology companies who have been our partner for developing governmental e-services,” she was quoted as saying in the release.
Kaspar Korjus, Managing Director of Republic of Estonia’s e-Residency programme, said, “e-Residency can help leverage common points between the two countries by offering Indian entrepreneurs the opportunity to open and run a global EU company fully online from India or anywhere in the world and provide their access to the European market of 500 million people. India’s potential is huge and we are more than happy to contribute to unlock it.”
At present, there are about 450 startups in Estonia and by 2020, the country hopes to have 1,000 startups. This collaboration with India will also help the Estonian startups find new markets for their products.
Most of us have been bombarded by fantastical visions of the future – where we no longer need roads, machines take care of our every need, and a doctor can replace a human heart with one created by a 3-D printer.
That time is coming. With smart phones increasingly commonplace in even the poorest countries, we’re on the brink of a new age, where technology will help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
But will poverty be one of them?
At the World Bank Group, we think the answer to that question should be yes. We’re committed to doing all we can to help developing countries harness innovation and build the human capital they will need to compete in the technology-dominated economy of the future.
To that end, we’re engaging and learning from innovators and disruptive technology firms; collaborating on research; and exploring new partnerships to leverage data, knowledge, and new technology to help achieve our goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
Last week at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, I announced two new initiatives that deepen the partnership between the World Bank Group and the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA). These new initiatives open the door for us to work with GSMA’s members around the globe to bring the power of Big Data and the Internet of Things to development challenges.
First, we’re joining forces with GSMA’s Big Data for Social Good. At the World Bank Group, we’ve had some experience using mobile data, for example to help Haiti rebuild its transit system after the 2010 earthquake. We used it to track the flow of refugees in Africa, and to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in the Philippines.
As the digital revolution advances, technology companies will have a critical role in making connectivity work for everyone.
Second, we’re creating a new Internet of Things Big Data Initiative with operators, convened by GSMA. Just as the smartphone brought an unprecedented level of new opportunities for the poor to access markets and finance, we believe IoT can bring us closer to our goal of ending extreme poverty.
We’ve seen the potential of IoT to solve intractable problems – for example, indoor pollution from cookstoves that burn fuel from biomass such as wood or animal dung. This practice kills 4.3 million people globally per year – more than malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS combined. In India, we provided IoT devices to identify homes with toxic levels of air pollution, then intervened with cash incentives to encourage people to shift to clean cooking and heating, which is saving lives.
This is just the first of many problems IoT can help to solve. IoT is already playing a role in helping vaccinate children by monitoring the supply chain. And it’s being used to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, respond to epidemics, and improve education.
As the digital revolution advances, technology companies will have a critical role in making connectivity work for everyone. Their technologies will be essential to help countries unlock new drivers of economic growth.
It’s imperative that we find those new paths to prosperity. The traditional route to economic growth and job creation through industrialization is rapidly closing. Lower skilled jobs are disappearing as robots begin to replace workers in garment factories and other industries.
At the same time, with smart phones and internet access, nearly everyone can see how everyone else lives. Some studies estimate that by 2025, all 8 billion people around the world could have access to broadband. By that time, nearly everyone will likely have access to a smartphone, which we know is a powerful accelerator of aspirations. We must make sure these aspirations are met by opportunity – not frustration – or we risk greater inequality and insecurity in the world.
It comes down to this: children everywhere simply want the kinds of opportunities they see on smartphones. If we can leverage technology to tackle the biggest global challenges of our lifetime – from poverty and inequality; to pandemics, famine, and climate change – if we help countries find new drivers of economic growth; we can make the global market system work for everyone and the planet. This is an urgent task, and we have no time to lose.
For more, check out the full speech.
While some 91 percent of postal outlets worldwide already offer some form of financial services, there is still work to do when it comes to bringing more unbanked people into the formal financial system.
The UPU’s Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) will provide Posts with the means necessary to fill this gap through the development of digitized postal financial services, with the ultimate goal of adding 250 million postal accounts by 2020.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and VISA Inc., the UPU plans to support 20 Posts in the launch of national digital financial service projects for financial inclusion through FITAF by 2020.
FITAF will provide selected Posts with support on several fronts, including:
- Knowledge sharing
- Development of best practices
- Capacity building
- Design of mobile-based strategies
- Expansion of financial service offerings
Through FITAF, the UPU will also carry out broader research on postal financial inclusion, and will share new insights and resources for UPU members and stakeholders, such as case studies, a readiness guide and the organization of workshops.
Qualifying for FITAF
Assistance will be provided according to need, based on requests from designated operators following the required process as detailed in the relevant call for projects.
Criteria for selection include:
- Commitment from the Post’s management and from government leaders
- The existence of a legal and regulatory framework to enable the Post to deliver financial services, including digital financial services
- Evidence of innovation
- Impacts on financial inclusion
- Willingness to co-fund 20 percent of costs
Countries can apply for assistance through the UPU’s call for projects. All current calls for projects will be posted on this page.
Digital Economy Policy in Developing Countries
By RUMANA BUKHT & RICHARD HEEKS
Digital economies in the global South are undershooting their potential. A new paper – “ Digital Economy Policy in Developing Countries” – reviews current constraints, and the policy objectives and measures, processes and structures necessary to enhance digital economy growth and its contribution to socio-economic development.
The digital economy – that part of economic output derived solely or primarily from digital
technologies with a business model based on digital goods or services – is of increasing
importance to developing countries. Yet digital economy reality is undershooting its
potential in these countries, due to a series of challenges. Digital infrastructure is in part
incomplete, costly and poorly-performing. The wider digital ecosystem suffers a shortfall in
human capabilities, weak financing, and poor governance. Growth in the digital economy is
exacerbating digital exclusion, inequality, adverse incorporation and other digital harms.
Alongside explaining these challenges, this paper overviews the policy objectives and
measures, and processes and structures necessary to enhance digital economy growth and
its contribution to socio-economic development.
This paper is a publication from the “Development Implications of Digital Economies (DIODE)” Strategic Research Network. It and other digital economy papers are available via:
In order to ease doing business, Uganda has been advised to consider electronic commerce infrastructure.
This entails gearing government policies towards creating broadband access for both fixed and mobile communication to enable the Ugandan businesses be seen on the electronic market platforms.
To navigate around the challenge, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) through German International Cooperation (GIZ) are going to secure financing over the next three months to carry out a rapid electronic trade preparedness study of Uganda.
This message was echoed by the UNCTAD secretary general, Dr Mukhisa Kitui, during his courtesy call at Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) last week.
UCDA is one of the government agencies signed up on the Uganda Electronic Single Window (UESW) platform, a system introduced by government to leverage technology to allow them submit all required regulatory documents electronically.
“The financing which is a grant will involve identifying the gaps in the government infrastructures, in training relations, local content development, regulation and privacy rules,” Mr Kitui said.
In Europe, 75 per cent of commerce is transacted electronically. In Africa, the best countries are Morocco, South Africa and Kenya but only rated between 5-6 per cent of transactions in electronic commerce.
Rated at 1 per cent, this means that Uganda has to do a vertical learning curve building not only the capacity but particularly assisting small businesses to get market feasibility as a way to the future.
Kitui added: “The development efficiencies of the payment system as issues of making it possible for Ugandan enterprises to be visible on electronic trading platform, which worldwide is the fastest component on which commercial transactions are done transacted electronically.”
“This means quality broadband and quality skilled and local content development, also quality domestication of how to reach the virtual markets,” he said.
Although he was tight-lipped on how much the financial assistance is, he said, it has been divided into two-different components. Paramount will be the second phase of (UESW), which is going to be announced by the government and then the rapid e-trade assessment, which will be announced by the minister of ICT after all the details with GIZ have been sorted.
Last year, government started implementing the UESW project to allow importers and exporters submit regulatory documents such as permits, customs declarations and all regulatory documents using a single access point.
In order to make it work, all the relevant government agencies, economic operators and the private sector were required to come on board and as of December last year, 16 border intervening agencies had complied.
Some of the agencies, which have installed this system include Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperative and Uganda Export Promotions Board.
Sharing the experience of using UESW-UCDA’s executive director, Dr Emmanuel Iyamulemye said the system came at a time when they were also developing an internal system for managing the data of the exports and generating documents.
“This eased our work to integrate with the Single Window and all this data that is collected through our system is used to generate the certificates,” he said.
Mr William Tobias Mutebi, the supervisor customs business analysis of URA, the implementing agency, said they started with coffee development as one of the institutions in the pilot phase which started in 2017 December
“UCDA came on board in November. We now have morethan 18,000 quality certificates in the UESW,” Mr Mutebi said.
According to UCDA, when they joined the system, complaints from the exporters reduced, time of issuance reduced and also the transporters are benefiting because by the time they get to the borders, they already have the information.
“As UCDA, it also improves information sharing because we are sharing information with URA,” he added.
Mr Michael Nuwagaba, the chief operations officer at Ugacof one of the exporting companies said: “The UESW has made export work easy because of its transparency and has no short-cuts which would otherwise delay transiting goods.”
He said previously there were a lot of uncertainties and the bureaucracy which was consuming a lot of time during business transactions has been eliminated.
“Because of this system, the quality department at UCDA is now operating well and this too, has eased operation,” Mr Nuwagaba said.
Mr Edmund Kananura, UCDA’s quality and regulatory services director, said saving money and time are some of the benefits that came with this system.
“Remember nearly 80 per cent of the value of product at export is taken by the farmer. Then the traders, middlemen fight for the 20 per cent of the value at export. So, anything that streamlines and eases the export of coffee automatically benefits the whole value chain,” Mr Kananura said.
UCDA is one of the government agencies signed up on the Uganda Electronic Single Window (UESW) platform, a system introduced by government to leverage technology to allow them submit all required regulatory documents electronically.
Paramount will be the second phase of (UESW), which is going to be announced by the government and then the rapid e-trade assessment, which will be announced by the minister of ICT after all the details with GIZ have been sorted.
MAKE IT TO WORK
Agencies. In order to make it work, all the relevant government agencies, economic operators and the private sector were required to come on board and as of December last year, 16 border intervening agencies had complied.
By: Heinz Strubenhoff – Senior Private Sector Specialist – World Bank &
Roy Parizat – Senior Economist – The World Bank
The world talks a lot about the digital revolution, but few connect it to the coming agriculture revolution, especially in Africa. Digital solutions have huge potential for helping farmers boost productivity and connect to financial tools and markets around the world.
Farming in the plains of northern Nigeria around Abuja requires tedious manual labor because of the lack of farm machinery. A few days of tractor use for farmers in this region could improve productivity by 20 to 40 times. However, farmers cannot afford to buy a tractor in remote rural areas of Africa. Jehiel Oliver, founder of Hello Tractor, thought that an Uber-like tractor service might be a solution. “Our booking system allows farmers to conveniently request, schedule, and prepay for tractor services from nearby smart tractor owners, through text messaging and mobile money. Once service is completed, the prepayment is automatically released to the smart tractor owner,” explains Oliver. His smart two-wheel tractors are equipped with GPS antennae that collect and transfer necessary data. The system helps to reduce tractor costs, raising farm productivity and generates additional income.
These types of innovations have the potential to affect developed countries. Whereas the number of tractors in Nigeria may be insufficient, Switzerland and Germany have a luxury problem: too many under-used tractors. But in cases of both over and under supply, tractor (and car) use could be greatly optimized using digital services.
Figure 1: Number of tractors per 10,000 hectare of arable land (2007)
The core innovation for farmers is that services and money can now be exchanged digitally, a revolution that has been spearheaded in Kenya with mobile money platforms like M-PESA. Mobile money has been so successfully introduced that there is more money on mobile phones today than in the whole banking system of the country with a quarterly volume of $10 billion and 20 million subscribers. M-PESA enables its users to deposit and withdraw money, and transfer money to other users, for example, like agri-input dealers. With 3.5 billion cell phones currently in the world, these services have quickly disseminated to other countries.
In Australia, farmers are herding cattle via cell phones. Boundaries are enforced by electrical prompts from transponders on individual cattle collars. The signal comes from a farm base station linked to GPS tracking. Grazing zones can be enabled and controlled by an app. It’s easy to imagine how this technology greatly reduces labor and material costs of cattle herding.
The digital revolution could also improve the lives of farmers and consumers, especially in reducing wasted time and resources while enhancing productivity. People in rural areas who previously were not able to access banks can now make and received money transfers at low costs.
There are more benefits. Technology may greatly improve food safety in value chains. For instance, consumers in China do not trust domestic food producers. Too many food scandals in the past have undermined consumers trust. That’s why IBM, Walmart, and the Chinese retailer JD.com together with Tsinghua University have announced a blockchain food safety alliance to improve food tracking and safety in China. Decentralized ledger technology can trace back the origin of food products in a few seconds instead of a few weeks, making it easier to combat fraud.
Combining big data and digital technology will change the way of doing agribusiness. In the past, suppliers of fertilizers, plant protection products, agriculture machinery, and seeds aimed to increase sales. Changing consumption patterns (25 percent of Europeans are vegan sympathetic and reduce animal protein in their diets) and declining population growth will most likely change the current business model of global agribusiness. “Before, selling more products meant more business for a company like Bayer; whereas in future, the fewer products we sell the better, because we’re selling outcome based services. With sensor devices, we can learn a lot more about what is and is not helping crops and livestock and create a better way of doing things,” says Tobias Menne, head of Bayer’s Digital Farming.
Ultimately, farmers need the most appropriate fertilizers and plant protection products for their location. This mandates the existence of local agri-input dealers who can reach farmers and provide advice and input tailored to farmer needs in partnership with global players. The Farm Shop franchising network in Kenya, for example, now reaches small farmers who previously were challenged in securing appropriate advice and inputs.
Alex Lissitsa, CEO of IMC in Ukraine, is constantly testing and introducing digital solutions for the company’s farming operations. He knows at any time where the agriculture machinery is working by using GPS-monitoring systems. IMC’s agronomists steer drones over their fields to differentiate the use of seeds and fertilizers to the needs of specific tiny plots.
What’s more, less input and higher productivity solutions like these will make farming climate smarter. About 24 percent of carbon emission equivalents come from agriculture. Digital solutions and big data may enable climate funds to invest in small, remote, and disconnected smallholders applying climate-smart farm and irrigation practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Finally, governments can improve farming scientific research and education. Artificial intelligence, like chatbots, may greatly improve and reduce the costs of educating and informing farmers. Farmers may be able to quickly get practical answers to questions, for example, about animal diseases, animal health, and vaccination in livestock production, and crop diseases, plant protection, and optimal seeding and harvest times in crop production. Even subsidies may be distributed better with less costs and risks of misuse.
While these innovations only scratch the surface of the coming digital revolution, it’s clear that digital solutions will transform agriculture with great benefits for smallholders.
Lilongwe — The Malawi iGuide, an electronic investment platform, was developed by the Malawi Investment Trade Center (MICT) assisted by the ECA and UNCTAD acting in line with the United Nations principle of “Delivering as One”. It was officially unveiled by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism in close collaboration with the MITC in Lilongwe, Malawi on 28 February 2018. The launch event was attended by government officials, private sector as well as members of the diplomatic corp.
The iGuide is an easy-to-use online platform providing domestic and foreign investors alike with up-to-date and pertinent information on business opportunities as well as applicable laws and regulations. The platform is grouped into seven chapters around the themes of business set-up, labour, production factors, land, taxes, investor rights, sectors and opportunities.
“The iGuide was launched at an opportune time when investors are facing challenges including accessing consolidated up-to-date investment-related information under one umbrella. In this respect, the Malawi Investment Guide, a joint project of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism with support of the ECA and UNCTAD, was therefore, developed to address these challenges. The iGuide is expected to bring benefits to investors and to the country in general,” noted the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism and MP, Mr. Henry Mussa, during the launch of the iGuide.
Presenting the iGuide during the launch, Emmanuel Chinyama, Economic Affairs Officer, ECA, informed the experts that the project was carried out at the request of the Republic of the Malawi to the Executive Secretary of the ECA. “The Malawi iGuide will be key in attracting investments shaped by the growth sectors and opportunities section, which highlights most recent national development strategies in terms of potential investment priorities”, he added.
Following Congo, the Malawi launch is the second in a series of iGuides supported by the ECA, which also include Nigeria and Zambia for which the launch is expected during the first quarter of 2018. This technical support falls into the ECA’s advisory services and capacity-building domain.
The iGuide project was rolled out in 2013 by the UNCTAD, complementing the former published investment guides which require updates every four years to keep track of new developments. To date, ten countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, including Burundi, Kenya, Congo and Rwanda, have the electronic platform for investors at their disposal.
The iGuide for the Republic of the Malawi can be accessed on https://www.theiguides.org/malawi
With more than 1.1 billion individuals without official proof of identity, a myriad of technologies is advancing at a faster speed than ever before and becoming more affordable, making it possible for nations to leapfrog paper based approaches of the past. Yet, it is becoming a challenge to understand and keep up with the various technologies and advancements that are especially relevant for digital identification systems. Identification for Development (ID4D) launches a new Technology Landscape report providing an overview of current and emerging technology trends in digital identity.
standardsand vendor neutrality, that match with cultural contexts, economic feasibility and infrastructure constraints.. Technology choices can also enable identification systems to lead to tangible benefits across a range of areas, such as financial inclusion, health services, and social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable. This #ID4D Technology Landscape report reminds us that additional factors and risk mitigating measures need to be considered when choosing certain #digitalidentity technology. These include the need for proper privacy and data protection, open
Synthesizing what seems like an endless supply of information, this. This report also summarizes challenges that each technology can and cannot solve and relevant key trends.
For example, fingerprint recognition is fairly mature and has wide adoption already. Others are emerging and include contactless fingerprint recognition, infant biometrics or blockchain for identity management, which are still in the pilot-testing stage.
Smartphones with built-in biometric sensors are becoming less expensive, with global prices decreasing by 27% from 2010 to 2017.
Regardless of which technologies are employed, successful digital ID systems must be robust, inclusive, and interoperable to ensure access to finance, healthcare, education, and other critical services and benefits by the more than billion people without proof of ID, as showcased in #EveryID has a Story campaign. Therefore, it’s important that the government adhere to “Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age” which considers the fundamentals to maximizing the benefits of identification systems while mitigating the risks, and is endorsed by 23 organizations.
From where I stand: Using blockchain technology to empower women
Olivier Mukuta, a social innovator who grew up in a refugee camp is working to create blockchain technology solutions to help empower women in humanitarian crisis situations.
I always say I’ve lived three lives. I was born in Congo. And then grew up in Malawi in a refugee camp, and then my family moved to Norway when I was 18.
In Norway, both my father and I were working and getting good paychecks, and sending money back to help our friends in the refugee camp. But we were finding that the money was not being used as intended. I’d tell my friends the money was for school, but then find out it was being used for different things. It was frustrating.
In Malawi, my mother was a hair-dresser. A lot of women came to her to do these styles, of course some of them would pay her. But the problem is, whenever there is cash in the picture, this sort of created a situation between women and men in the refugee camp. It created friction. Men had been head of their families in their home country, but the roles were changing.
And it wasn’t just happening in my family. In some families, they fought because the men wanted to use the money for something that might not be a priority.
That sort of gave me a vision. What if you have a solution where the help and resources can be managed by only women?
We came up with VipiCash as a solution. I can send money to my aunt or family and friends and lock it in to a specific service, like school fees or groceries. The money can only to be managed by my aunt because she knows best what is good for the children.
We are also looking into how financial transactions can be done without a fee. Because why should it cost people to help other people? Blockchain allows us to cut all these costs and at the same time makes sure that the transaction is transparent and the donors always know what happened to the donation that they made.
One of our dreams is to help women run their own businesses through VipiCash. We want to create a market for women vendors exclusively. We are looking at this as a way of creating a movement for women.”
Olivier Mukuta and his team were among the winners at the first “blockchain hackathon” co-organized by UN Women and Innovation Norway in July 2017. Muktua’s team developed ‘VipiCash’, an app that uses blockchain technology to enable secure money transfer among women, so that they can have access and control over their own money, independent of the male members of their family. In January 2018, Mukuta attended the UN Women and UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (UN OICT) four-day simulation lab to explore cutting-edge solutions based on blockchain technologies that address challenges faced by women and girls in humanitarian settings. Mukuta’s work relates to Sustainable Development Goal 5, which includes a target on women’s equal rights to economic resources. It also relates to SDG 8, which aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men; and SDG 9 on fostering innovation and access to technology.
BARCELONA, February 26, 2018 – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced today that the institution would partner with the GSMA and mobile network operators around the globe to harness big data from the Internet of Things (IoT) to help end extreme poverty and unlock new drivers of economic growth.
The initiative, announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, will unlock new insights from anonymized data collected by mobile network operators through IoT devices and aggregate data from smartphone use. It will also call on industry leaders, development partners and governments to work together in building a strong enabling environment for the IoT while protecting personal privacy. This is the first broad scope initiative involving the mobile communications industry and a major multilateral development bank, and is convened by the GSMA, which represents nearly 800 mobile network operators and more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
The expansion of mobile networks has created a global infrastructure that generates enormous amounts of data that is invaluable for social and economic development. There are more than 3.8 billion unique mobile subscribers in developing countries; in these markets, more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water or electricity. GSMA Intelligence estimates there will be 25 billion connections to the Internet of Things globally by 2025, enabling everything from real-time crop monitoring to water leakage detection. Their rapidly growing use in developing countries can produce a wealth of insights for development work.
“The mobile network industry provides the connectivity that is essential for countries to unlock new drivers of economic growth, help make the global market system work for everyone, and meet the world’s rising aspirations,”World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “Through this initiative we will partner with the mobile industry to harness IoT, big data and other new technologies to solve the world’s largest challenges.”
“This new initiative with the World Bank Group will leverage the mobile networks that we have built and the services we deliver to address some of the most pressing challenges that our world faces today,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “With IoT and big data, we have the ability to provide insights that can be used across a wide range of applications, from agriculture to environmental protection and beyond. We are pleased to be working with the World Bank on this critical initiative and encourage our operator members globally to join in this effort.”
The initiative calls on mobile operators to use data that they collect through their existing IoT services or through new pilots and partnerships to provide insights and analysis to design and improve projects. This can potentially boost development outcomes from World Bank Group projects – in the last fiscal year, the institution committed approximately $62 billion for new projects in middle- and low-income countries. Operators and governments will also benefit from increased use of big data for development, as it can enable better service provision, creation of new indicators and statistics, and better quality of life for users and citizens in general.
The World Bank Group already has successful examples of applying mobile-enabled IoT and big data to projects. In India, bangle-shaped sensors – wearable IoT data collection devices – allow users to automatically monitor harmful emissions from their stoves, and the data they generate is helping drive a shift to cleaner cookstoves.
Additionally, the World Bank Group will join the GSMA’s Big Data for Social Good Advisory Panel. The GSMA is a strong supporter of development initiatives that involve mobile networks and is one of the inaugural partners of the World Bank-led Digital Development Partnership – DDP.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group plays a key role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. It consists of five institutions: the World Bank, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Working together in more than 100 countries, these institutions provide financing, advice, and other solutions that enable countries to address the most urgent challenges of development. Learn more about the World Bank’s work on digital development: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/digitaldevelopment
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences. For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.
A new portal has been launched by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) to provide a platform for the exchange of news, information and experiences on trade and development in least-developed countries (LDCs).
Officially launched by the EIF at the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Development’s Aid for Trade meeting on 19 February, the Trade for Development News platform serves as a forum for LDC governments and stakeholders to share their successes, challenges and strategies for enhancing LDC participation in global trade.
“The Trade and Development News platform is another great contribution by the EIF to the Aid for Trade initiative,” said Sainabou Taal, Trade Policy Analyst in the WTO Development Division. “Serving as a one-stop-shop for LDC-specific trade and development news is a great way to allow LDCs and their partners to share experiences. This is an important milestone in enhancing the Aid for Trade initiative’s objectives on knowledge creation and sharing, and illustrating impact on the ground.”
The 47 countries classified as LDCs – 36 of whom are WTO members – are home to 13 per cent of the global population, but account for only 1 per cent of global trade. WTO agreements include provisions aimed at increasing LDCs’ trade opportunities and allowing LDCs flexibility in implementing WTO rules. The WTO Ministerial Conferences held in Bali in 2013 and in Nairobi in 2015 adopted several decisions in favour of LDCs to assist their better integration into the multilateral trading system.
The new EIF portal already features stories on trade and development news in WTO members such as Samoa, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Zambia, Senegal, the Gambia and Burkina Faso.
“We have an expansive agenda of partnership and we don’t want to confine ourselves but to engage in new and different ways,” added Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director at the Executive Secretariat of the EIF. “That includes launching the Trade for Development News site to serve as a hub for information on LDCs, aid for trade and trade for development around the world in partnership with several organizations within the organic EIF structure as well as outside.”
About the Enhanced Integrated Framework
The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) brings together partners and resources to support the least-developed countries (LDCs) in using trade for poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development. The EIF is a global partnership between LDCs, donors and international agencies, underpinned by a multi-donor trust fund, which provides financial and technical support to build trade capacity in 47 LDCs and four recently graduated countries. The EIF is the only global Aid for Trade programme exclusively designed for LDCs and therefore is uniquely placed to assist countries to develop sustainable trade strategies. Through a multilateral approach, the EIF ensures a coordinated, transparent and efficient delivery of Aid for Trade. The EIF is recognized under Goal 8a of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
More information on the EIF is available here.
International standards and harmonized processes can boost trade by enabling countries and companies to cut costs and reduce bureaucracy. The digitalization of these standards brings additional efficiency gains, further multiplying the benefits of their use.
UNECE has taken another step towards simplifying and harmonizing cross-border trade and transport with the introduction of technical standards to support the creation and exchange of electronic consignment notes for the international transport of goods by road.
Rules for transporting goods internationally by road are covered by the United Nations Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, known as the CMR, which has 55 Contracting Parties in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia.
Goods, companies, drivers and those receiving shipments currently use a CMR consignment note, which contains information about the shipped goods and the transporting and receiving parties. The CMR note is accepted by regulatory authorities and law courts as evidence of a contract of carriage by road. Until recently, CMR notes were only issued in paper form.
The development of the new standards is an important step towards this note becoming fully electronic, which will make the transport of goods by road less cumbersome for trading parties.
Developed by the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), hosted by UNECE, the standardized model provides a common language for trading parties. The technical standards specify a set of consignment data that can be exchanged between businesses and even between regulatory authorities and businesses, describing each step of the trade and transport process starting from the issuance for carrying the consignment, contract between parties, up to delivery of the goods.
The introduction of the standards is expected to attract more countries from Europe and beyond to accede to the convention and its Additional Protocol related to the electronic version of the CMR consignment note, the e-CMR. Fifteen countries in Europe and Asia, including Turkey and Iran (Islamic Republic of), have ratified the e-CMR Protocol so far. As the tide of digitalization continues to spread, several other countries are expected to follow.
The technical standards, which were approved on 19 February 2018, will be officially launched at a special session of UNECE’s Working Party on Road Transport (SC.1) on 4 April 2018, where countries will also discuss options to operationalize the e-CMR.
To download the technical standards for e-CMR, please visit: https://www.unece.org/cefact/brs/brs_index.html
How to reach Chinese e-consumers: A practical guide for small businesses
The publication recommends cross-border e-commerce, which allows opening stores in marketplaces rather
than opening Chinese sites. It provides systematic instructions on the process, including logistics and
On February 1 and 2, 2018 an international conference entitled “Intellectual Property in the New Technological Order” took place at the Skolkovo Innovation Center in Moscow. Leading Russian and international experts in the field of intellectual property (IP) came together to address changes occurring in the global IP system as a result of rapid technological progress.
If a patent can take up to five years to obtain, how can this form of protection continue to function in a world where new technologies are born and can die in the space of a few months? If a robot creates a work of art or a piece of music, who owns the IP behind it? Who owns the rights to big data? All these questions and more were tackled at this interactive event.
Great attention was paid to the rapidly-developing technology market and the use of technologies such as Blockchain in the IP system, as well as to the eventual growth of the value of information and the increasing role of intangible capital in global value chains. These and many other important issues were covered during the conference.
The event also served as a platform to share national best practices. Representatives from national patent offices and business from Australia, Chile, China, Egypt, Jamaica, Japan, Morocco, Russia, Singapore and Uganda took advantage of this unique opportunity.
About 500 participants representing more than 20 countries from five continents took part in the event.
The international conference was organized by WIPO, in cooperation with the Skolkovo Foundation and the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent).
The Russian Federation was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who welcomed all participants and wished them a successful event in his opening statement.
In the last 10 years, a brand new sector of many small and medium-sized innovative businesses has appeared [in Russia], whose activities depend on intellectual property, so demand has risen for an effective system of IP protection.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Arkady Dvorkovich during his keynote speech at the plenary session.
WIPO was represented by Deputy Director General, Mr. John Sandage who also gave a keynote speech at the plenary session. Mr. Sandage highlighted the challenges for traditional IP institutions brought about by the advance of technologies such as Blockchain and AI and he noted that some of these challenges may actually turn out to be opportunities.
During his visit to Moscow Mr. Sandage met with high ranking officials from the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property, as well as with the Russian business community at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science: ITU joined its UN sister organizations and over 55 partners in the EQUALS global network on Sunday to celebrate International Day of Women & Girls in Science. Find out how EQUALS in Tech Award Winner, Costa Rica’s Sulá Batsú Cooperativa, is supporting women in leadership in ICT fields. And read UN Women’s suggestions on how to reshape the future for women in STEM.
ITU News asked women across Southeast Asia what it is like to be a woman in tech and how we can level the playing field.
Technology in its various forms, including Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), continues to redefine and revolutionize the way we all live and work. Harnessing this technology to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment is not only vital for women and girls, but critical throughout the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The link between technology and women’s rights is clearly reflected in SDG 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women, which includes a specific target on utilizing technology and ICTs to realize women’s and girls’ empowerment. However, realizing gender equality reaches far beyond any single, individual goal. Gender equality is key to ensuring that no one is left behind, and is intrinsic to the success of each and every SDG.
Where women and girls are able to change their opportunities and perspectives through ICTs, their empowerment affects a wide range of outcomes even in informal work settings: in Pakistan, an innovative food-ordering platform links home-based women in the informal food industry to a wider pool of customers, and provides a safe virtual marketplace for them to sell their meals. In Rwanda, some 3,500 women farmers are now connected through mobile technology to information, markets and finance.
ICTs offer vast potential for women and girls: from ending poverty, to improving education and health, to agricultural productivity, and creating decent jobs.
ICTs are shaping future employment – but who will get those jobs?
ICTs are especially relevant today, as we face a rapidly changing world of work. How can we ensure that women and girls acquire the right ICT and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills to compete on a par with boys and men in the 21st Century economy, enjoy greater choice and access better-educated, better-paid jobs?
By 2020, it is expected that more than 7.1 million jobs will be displaced, and by 2050, half of the jobs that currently exist will have disappeared. That means that 65% of the children entering primary school today could eventually work in jobs that do not yet currently exist. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is also bringing advanced robotics, autonomous transport, AI and machine learning, all of which will have a major impact on the future labour market. Along with these challenges come opportunities.
It has been estimated that 90% of future jobs will require ICT skills, and some 2 million new jobs will be created in the computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering fields.
The use of technology, manufacturing and production therefore have the potential to support upskilling, redeployment and productivity enhancement. Mobile broadband — or using tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices to access the Internet — represents the fastest technological uptake in human history.
Hotspots are being set up by individuals and technology companies are experimenting with drones, balloons and other innovations to extend access to and use of the Internet. Technical and ICT-related skills across industries also need to be supplemented by broader, stronger collaborative and social skills — such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and the ability to learn and teach others.
Are our children learning the right lessons?
A recent study, ‘Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests’, shows that already, by the age of 6, girls are already less likely than boys to describe their own gender as ‘brilliant’, and less likely to join an activity labelled for ‘very, very smart’ kids. When a young girl believes she is less intelligent and capable than a boy, she is also less likely to pursue STEM subjects that are often perceived as ‘hard’ through school and beyond. This study is one of many that paint a worrying picture of generations of girls being affected by negative stereotyping. New findings from a study of 9,500 girls and young women aged 11 to 18 in nine European countries underline the ‘leaky pipeline” finding: in Finland, 62% of female teenagers said they see the natural sciences as important, but only 37% said they would consider a career in that area.
Un-learning these biases and changing the stereotypes is no simple matter, yet it is essential, if we are to see boys and girls able to compete on a more equal footing for the jobs of the future. This goes hand-in-hand with practical programmes that teach immediately relevant skills. For example, in the Republic of Moldova, GirlsGoITteaches girls digital, IT and entrepreneurial skills and specifically promotes positive role models through video; similarly in Kenya and South Africa, 20 Mozilla Clubs for women and girls teach basic coding and digital literacy skills in safe spaces.
A recently launched Unilever report on stereotyping shows that 77% of men and 55% of women believe that men are the best choice for high-stake projects32. Such beliefs have a sizeable impact on gender equality issues globally, with 60% of women and 49% of men indicating that stereotypes impacted their careers, their personal lives, or both. At the same time, nearly three out of four respondents (70%) believe that the world would be a better place if today’s children were not exposed to the gender stereotypes so prevalent in media and marketing, and so easily disseminated via online media.
So, how do we change the sexist messages that girls and boys are receiving?
This is a complex task that requires action on a number of fronts. We need to invest in programmes that deconstruct negative stereotypes and traditional gender roles, and work with marketers and the media to stop sexist – and sexualized – advertising, and ensure women are portrayed accurately and equally in TV, film and the news media. We also need to work with schools to change the curriculum and with teachers to ensure that they do not have different expectations for boys and girls. Work with private sector partners who are prepared to engage seriously in rectifying gender inequality is a very important aspect of influencing changes for women in the workplace, with results that improve conditions for men too. And we must continue engaging with non-traditional allies, such as local and religious leaders, young people and men and boys. This process of ‘un-stereotyping’, and empowering women to create their own narratives will be crucial to ensuring that ICTs drive progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Positive role models have also proven to be a powerful tool in eliminating gender stereotypes, especially those relating to ICTs and women in STEM, including both perceived role models in the media, as well as real-life mentors and success stories.
We must expose girls and boys to role models in non-traditional fields — such as female engineers or male carers — and give women the chance to tell their own stories through programmes such as the #HerStory campaign, which showcases the stories of women leaders and women who have been forgotten in history books.
The education-to-employment skills gap
Around the world, we are now facing a mismatch between the skills that employers demand and those that workers possess. The global “talent shortage” is currently at 38%, with the top ten hardest jobs to fill in STEM professions. There is currently a 200-million-person shortage of ICT-skilled workers around the world. Although more women than men now graduate from tertiary education in some countries (e.g. in many Pacific small island states), this is not resulting in increased economic opportunities.
To bridge this skills gap, we need to understand and teach the skills that women of all social classes need to take full advantage of ongoing technological advances. As digitization replaces workers (mostly in sectors such as the garment and agricultural industries), the need to offer women updated skills is becoming more critical. In manufacturing, service and agricultural industries (where women are overrepresented), jobs are slowly being replaced by automation. We must help women to learn new skills and competencies, so they can adjust to the changes in these industries or retrain to take up positions in other sectors.
Bridging this skills gap can have added economic advantages. We know that the gender pay gap is often reduced in the STEM fields, where demand for skills is high. According to the US Department of Commerce, in 2009, women in STEM careers earned 33% more than those in non-STEM jobs at comparable levels.
ICTs can also help to bridge the skills gap by extending the reach of education and literacy to a population that was previously excluded due to a lack of infrastructure or political instability.
According to UNDP, 103 million youth worldwide are devoid of basic literacy skills, and more than 60% of them are women. UN Women is currently developing a Virtual Skills School to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind and to offer a second chance at learning to those who had to leave formal education. Through the Virtual Skills School, we intend to provide women and girls with learning pathways that would facilitate their re-integration into formal schooling, and allow them to progress into non-traditional sectors as either job seekers or job creators.
Overcoming the gender digital divide
There are some 250 million fewer women online than men, and the gap is widening (from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016). Access remains concentrated in the developed world – around the world, 53% of the world’s population (equivalent to some 3.9 billion people) are not connected, and in several of Africa’s poorer and more fragile countries, only one person in every 10 people is on the Internet.
Increasing access to online resources is crucial to ensuring women and girls are not left behind in an increasingly digital world, and can, in some cases, catalyze women’s interest in the opportunities offered by technology and ICTs.
However, the gender digital divide goes beyond simple access issues – it is also inextricably linked to factors such as technical know-how, education about the benefits of technology, and the content and methods by which relevant skills are taught. For instance, women and girls need to be informed about the opportunities posed by technology and ICTs, so they are empowered to demand greater access.
Bridging the digital divide, changing stereotypes about women in the tech industries and equipping women with the skills they will need to thrive in today’s economy will not happen overnight, but UN Women has several projects underway that are harnessing the power of technology to transform women’s narratives and their way of life.
We are also leveraging partnerships with the private sector, UN agencies and civil society to ensure uptake and use of ICTs and move us closer to closing the gender digital divide. One example of such a successful partnership is UN Women’s HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, which works with ten Heads of State, ten CEOs of major corporations and ten university presidents, on game-changing gender equality commitments. Some of these commitments include expanding mobile phone access to underserved women, providing scholarships to women in STEM fields and teaching girls how to code computer software and apps.
UN Women has also partnered with ITU to launch the EQUALS partnership, with the aim of creating an unstoppable global movement where women and girls are equal participants in the digital technology revolution.
EQUALS will bring together global technology and ICT partners to empower women and girls by driving progress as well as collecting and analyzing data and statistics in the areas of access, learning and leadership.
Women and girls comprise half of the world’s population. When they are involved at all levels in the implementation of the SDGs, as well as in driving the tech sector, they can help to create user-friendly technology that is responsive to their needs. Each of us have a part to play a part in closing the gender divide, overturning stereotypes and encouraging women and girls to use ICTs and pursue careers in the technology sector. In doing this, we not only empower women and girls, we move closer to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and a better world for all – including for men and boys, as well as women and girls.
The buzz around Internet of Things (IoT) has gathered momentum but the IoT phenomenon is poorly understood by governments and businesses. Governments are under pressure to become more innovative, evidence-based, and collaborative and IoT seems to offer opportunities such as increased competitiveness and innovation, and regulatory improvements that reduce the burden on business and increase compliance. In this report we examine the evidence on the ground to see how the theoretical potential of IoT implementation matches up with the reality on the ground and what can we learn from government agencies at the forefront of IoT implementation. The report draws on lessons from cities around the world (Germany, UK, Luxembourg, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Finland, Canada, USA, Japan, UAE, and India); it also provides a review of the IoT marketplace. The questions it answers include – what is IoT and why should governments care, how are different cities implementing IoT based solutions, and what are the main policy and other implications for government to fully utilize the potential of the technology while managing the associated risks and challenges? Findings include the fact that IoT implementation is still nascent in governments, the business models to scale pilots are still under-developed, the policy environment remains very patchy, and there is need to invest in digital capacity, data practices, and IoT infrastructure. The report includes a rough toolkit for government agencies.
The First Global Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference, jointly organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and China Customs, was launched in Beijing, China today, 9 February 2018, sending out a concerted message on strengthening cooperation towards an innovative, inclusive, strategic and collaborative approach to sustainable cross-border e-commerce.
This Conference brings together over 2,000 high-level policy and decision makers, as well as operational experts, from Customs administrations, other government agencies, e-commerce operators, international organizations, regional economic communities, academia and other stakeholders in the cross-border e-commerce supply chain.
The WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomed the delegates and thanked China and all stakeholders for their active support with the organization of this First Global Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference. He stressed that: “This fast-evolving e-commerce environment and associated challenges require a comprehensive and well-considered policy and operational response from Customs and other border agencies, in partnership with other stakeholders. A coordinated and collaborative approach between and among all stakeholders at the international, regional and national level is vital to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable e-commerce environment, leading to an inclusive global trade system and increased economic growth.”
In his inaugural speech, Mr. Wang Yang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China, noted that: “We are here to support vital and progressive cross-border e-commerce. We must strive to do everything to support its continued growth. We need to mutually expand the openness of the market, collaboratively establish commonly-followed supervision standards, enhance the cooperation and coordination mechanism among all parties, and improve the capacity building of underdeveloped countries.”
Outlining China’s success story in the e-commerce arena, Mr. Yu Guangzhou, Minister of China Customs, underscored that: “By improving regulation and services with innovative thinking and methods, we will offer a more transparent, stable and predictable trade environment for e-commerce and provide the public with safe, convenient and efficient access to global goods, in order to help people around the world realize their aspirations for a better life.”
The opening ceremony featured keynote speeches by Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Mr. Jack Ma, UPU Director General Mr. Bishar A. Hussein, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu, and WTO Deputy Director General Mr. Xiaozhun Yi. Several Ministers, Vice-Ministers, Directors General of Customs, head of various government agencies, heads of international business organizations and CEOs of various e-commerce operators also graced the event.
Through a range of plenary and breakout sessions, the two-day Conference will focus on embracing, seizing and leveraging opportunities presented by cross-border e-commerce, while exploring collaborative and innovative solutions enabling governments and the private sector to collectively address current and emerging challenges.
During his stay in Beijing, Secretary General Mikuriya visited Huawei Research & Development Institute in Beijing to meet Mr. Victor Zhang, President, Global Government Affairs, Huawei Technologies, a PSCG Member company. They discussed the use of data in the Customs context, Huawei’s proposed solutions in the area of the Digital Customs and the benefits of AEO. Huawei has been granted AEO status in 19 countries and benefited from a significant reduction of clearance time at the borders. The Secretary General expressed appreciation for Huawei’s support for the WCO and its activities.
- Buyers will be able to shop online in the EU without being blocked or automatically re-routed
- Traders will have to treat cross-border shoppers in the same way as local ones, granting them access to the same prices
- 63% of websites assessed in a survey do not let shoppers buy from another EU country
Online buyers will have wider and easier cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets in the EU.
The new rules will ban the “geo-blocking” of buyers browsing websites in another EU country, so as to enable them to choose from which website they buy goods or services, without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.
Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local ones, i.e. grant them access to the same prices or sales conditions, when they:
- buy goods (e.g. household appliances, electronics, clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in his general conditions, or are collected at a location agreed by both parties in an EU country in which the trader offers such option (traders would not have to deliver in all EU countries, but buyers should have the option to pick up the package in a place agreed with the trader),
- receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, or
- buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets.
Treating shoppers differently based on the place of issuance of a credit or debit card will also be forbidden. While traders remain free to accept whatever payment means they want, they may not discriminate within a specific payment brand based on nationality.
Copyrighted content excluded for now
Digital copyrighted content, such as e-books, downloadable music or online games, will not be covered by the new rules for the time being. However, the EU Commission must assess within two years after the entry into force of the regulation whether the ban on geo-blocking should be widened to include such content, as well as audio-visual and transport services, which are also currently excluded.
Róża Thun (EPP, PL), rapporteur, said: “This new EU law on geo-blocking is an important step towards an even more competitive and integrated Digital Single Market, for both consumers and traders. It also represents another milestone in the fight against the discrimination of consumers based on their nationality or place of residence, which should never be taking place in our united Europe. We have proven that the European Union can deliver concrete results for the citizens all over Europe, bringing positive changes in their daily lives.”
The new rules were approved by 557 votes to 89, with 33 abstentions.
The agreement on the geo-blocking regulation stills needs to be formally approved by Council. The new rules will be applicable nine months from the day of its publication in the EU Official Journal, i.e. before the end of this year (2018).
63% of websites do not let shoppers buy from another EU country, according to findings of a “mystery shopping” study carried out by the Commission. For tangible goods, geo-blocking was highest for electrical household appliances (86%), while for services it was for online reservations of offline leisure sector, such as sports event tickets (40%).
EU consumers show growing demand for cross-border online shopping. In the last ten years the share of Europeans buying online has almost doubled.
Presented as part of the Digital Single Market, the regulation to end unjustified geo-blocking was included in the e-commerce package, together with legislation on cross-border parcel delivery services, to be voted in plenary in March 2018, and a law to strengthen enforcement of consumers’ rights, which was already approved by Parliament in November 2017.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) invites organizations, governments and individuals to participate in the call for proposals about digital tools in open code aimed at improving tax administration of subnational governments in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The tools selected will be published on the Code for Development Platform of the IDB to put them at the disposal of any subnational government interested in improving its tax administration. In addition, the three tools selected with the highest scores will be presented in a workshop about digital tools for subnational tax administration to be held April 4 and 5, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
Participants of the call for proposals must nominate their specific digital solution through the page Code for Development by Sunday March 4 at 11:59 pm, Eastern Standard Time in Washington, D.C., United States.
This call for proposals seeks to help subnational governments to improve their tax administration by making available technological tools in open code that will facilitate online management of land registries, tax payments, supervision, accountability and transparency in the use of resources.
The solutions will be evaluated based on their technological content and their expected impact in terms of tax management.
About the Inter-American Development Bank
The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.
Training in e-commerce and online tools to help increase economic resilience in Jordan.
Amman-Geneva) The International Trade Centre (ITC) announced a new project to help boost the digital skills of Jordanian youth and Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Through the Linking Syrian Refugees in Jordan to Market Opportunities in IT-enabled Work project, Jordanian youth and Syrian refugees will benefit from a co-learning environment using digital channels to connect with buyers and learn how to sell services and how to reach new markets. The project aims to equip participants with a business vision and marketing and operational tools that will enable them to reach and service new markets through digital tools.
Funded by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project will strengthen the technical skills of participants, such as data entry, basic computer programming, digital content creation, document translation, integrated digital publishing and sales and marketing. Participants will be registered on a digital platform, which will open up opportunities for online transactions, digital marketing and after-sales services.
Meanwhile, Syrian entrepreneurs participating in the project will be trained in building an online business and pursue it in their home country once repatriated. This is part of an effort that sets out to demonstrate how the presence of entrepreneurial refugees can contribute to value creation and help increase economic resilience in host countries.
‘The innovative approach of the project offers practical solutions to challenges faced young people and by refugees,’ said ITC project manager Eman Beseiso. ‘This model could be adapted and replicated in other countries.’
Partners to the project include the Information and Communications Technology Association – Jordan, and the Jordanian Ministry of Planning, to deliver key skills to Syrian refugees in Jordan as part of a joint training initiative led by ITC and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) announced a new project to help boost the digital skills of Jordanian youth and Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The G20 member states account for 85 percent of the global economy and are home to half of the world’s Internet users. From artificial intelligence to personal data protections, our physical world is being shaped by our digital world. As current president of the G20, Argentina has put a range of digital challenges on the table. But to tackle these, we need credible commitments and a long-term roadmap.
As three leading organisations from the Internet community, we welcome that Argentina continued the G20 digital work begun by Germany in 2017. Last year, Germany and the other G20 members outlined their aspirations for the development of our digital societies. And the Argentine presidency has identified five priority areas — digital inclusion, future job skills, digital government, SMEs and entrepreneurship, and Industry 4.0 — all dependent on a strong digital economy and society. Now is the year to turn these aspirations into actions.
We call on Argentina to build on this consensus with a dedicated G20 digital agenda. This roadmap must include milestones to the next G20 presidency, to be held by Japan. Priority commitments should include:
- Boost Internet access, by providing meaningful access, continuing and going to scale with initiatives like eSkills4girls, and scaling investments in private and community based digital networks and infrastructure;
- Increase security, by ensuring a collaborative, inclusive and transparent approach to tackle hard issues, such as promoting strong encryption, sound vulnerability management processes, as well as privacy-protecting and secure designs for emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Thoughtful and proactive digital policies are needed to reap social and economic benefits for all, the G20 and beyond. A G20 digital agenda can help us to address the challenges facing the health of the Internet and future of the web and establish trust in the development of our digital lives.
The new challenges we face are complicated, but can be tackled through collaboration among all stakeholders to find the right solutions. Argentina can lead this effort through the G20. It must create a convening space, invite participation and ensure transparency and trust — from sharing documents to providing opportunities for inputs from across the spectrum.
The G20 member states are in a position to set the parameters for a global digital agenda that puts the individual first and makes the most of technology for society. We hope they will live up to this responsibility.
2018 theme: Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrates the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.
Every day women come up with game-changing inventions and life-enhancing creations that transform lives and advance human understanding from astrophysics to nanotechnology and from medicine to artificial intelligence and robotics.
And in the creative sphere, whether in the movies, animation, music, fashion, design, sculpture, dance, literature, art and more, women are re-imagining culture, testing the limits of artistry and creative expression, drawing us into new worlds of experience and understanding.
The important and inspiring contributions of countless women around the globe are powering change in our world. Their “can do” attitude is an inspiration to us all. And their remarkable achievements are an invaluable legacy for young girls today with aspirations to become the inventors and creators of tomorrow.
More than ever before, women are taking up leadership roles and making their voices heard in the science, technology, business and the arts. This is good news. With women and men working together, we strengthen humanity’s hand, and improve our ability to enrich our shared cultural wealth and develop effective solutions to alleviate poverty, boost global health, and safeguard the environment.
The time is ripe to reflect on ways to ensure that increasing numbers of women and girls across the globe engage in innovation and creativity, and why this is so important.
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day celebration is an opportunity to highlight how the intellectual property (IP) system can support innovative and creative women (and indeed everyone) in their quest to bring their amazing ideas to market.
Join the conversation using #worldipday and tell us about the female inventors and creators who are powering change near you!
Since then, World IP Day has offered a unique opportunity each year to join with others around the globe to consider how IP contributes to the flourishing of music and the arts and to driving the technological innovation that helps shape our world.
The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is an annual assessment of 103 countries’ economic performance that measures how countries perform on eleven dimensions of economic progress in addition to GDP. It has 3 pillars; growth and development; inclusion and; intergenerational equity – sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources.
The IDI is a project of the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on the Future of Economic Progress, which aims to inform and enable sustained and inclusive economic progress through deepened public-private cooperation through thought leadership and analysis, strategic dialogue and concrete cooperation, including by accelerating social impact through corporate action.
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That’s it for another year. With over 400 sessions on the official programme (160 of which were broadcast live on our website), it can be hard keeping up with everything happening at our Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
To help you get your head around it all, here’s a recap of some (but by no means all) of the week’s big stories.
Friday 26 January, International Customs Day, the WCO would launch its Theme for 2018: “A secure business environment for economic development”. He emphasized that the modern business environment could not be separated from digitization, and the work of the Projects Team was very much aligned with the Theme for 2018; the WCO DM was continuing to help Customs and other government agencies to streamline and simplify regulatory procedures and data requirements, facilitate trade and travel, and enable digital collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has stepped up efforts to promote cross-border trade by embracing e-commerce to be able to “minimise physical barriers”. to trade across the region. Dr Francis Mangeni, the COMESA director of trade and customs, said that trade facilitation is a key priority for Africa, and a “digital free trade area (FTA) is a practical way of increasing intra-regional trade and creating wealth”.
Mangeni added that the online FTA will be rolled out soon enabling member states to trade commodities, goods and services without need to travel.
In a statement, Mangeni added that providing traders with the necessary digital tools will help boost intra-regional trade and enhance competitiveness of COMESA members in global trade. The official was speaking after a two-day workshop on the digital free trade area held in the Seychelles last week.
Speaking in an interview with The New Times about the development, Geoffrey Kamanzi, the PSF director for trade facilitation and negotiations, said the move is a “timely measure that will help reduce the cost of doing business within the bloc”.
It is also a unique opportunity to further realize the potential of free trade through ICT, as well as contribute to greater regional integration.
Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development launches 2025 targets to support “Connecting the Other Half”
Davos, 23 January 2018
The targets were launched today at a joint meeting of the Commission and the World Economic Forum, held during the 2018 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The 2025 targets specifically seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use by populations around the world, in support of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations and the international community in September 2015 – and in so doing, to improve livelihoods and economies.
Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2025 Targets:
- By 2025, all countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy, or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.
- By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.
- By 2025 broadband / Internet user penetration should reach: 75% worldwide, 65% in developing countries, and 35% in least developed countries.
- By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
- By 2025, 40% of the world’s population should be using digital financial services.
- By 2025, unconnectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises should be reduced by 50%, by sector.
- By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets.
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development brings together a high-powered and influential community – including top industry CEOs, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development. Leaders in their field, they each believe strongly in a future based on broadband and offer rich insights and experience.
The Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities and is co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and industry leader Carlos Slim Helú of the Carlos Slim Foundation. One of the central roles of the Commission is to promote the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda. In so doing, Commissioners work together to devise practical strategies – including private-public partnerships – that advocate for higher priority to be given to the development of broadband infrastructure and services, to ensure that the benefits of these technologies are realized in all countries, and accessible to all people.
Wish to contribute to the debate? Learn more here
The trade facilitation initiative was launched by the UPU and the Moroccan government in Rabat on 18 January with a view to helping more Moroccan small businesses trade their wares on the global market.
The UPU Easy Export Programme brings together designated operators and key trade facilitation stakeholders in national government to help countries implement solutions to boost their micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) participation in the export market. Morocco is among the first countries to pilot the programme.
UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein and Moroccan Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Rkia Derham, chaired the launch ceremony, which was attended by other high-level officials, including Moroccan Secretary of State for Artisanal Industry and Social Economy Jamila El Moussali and Poste Maroc Director General Amin Benjelloun Touimi.
The UPU Director General remarked on the difficulties MSMEs face in accessing the financial and informational resources required to participate fully in the economy, despite their significant contribution the job market, particularly in emerging economies.