UNCDF Evolution fo Digital Economies Globally 2020-2022

A Clear Path for Our Digital Transformation: Launching the 4th Edition of the Inclusive Digital Economies Scorecard (IDES)

”We have a clear path regarding the direction we must take for our digital transformation. The work that you have done with us is exceptional [with the IDES], and will continue to look towards your cooperation and hand-holding, as we become a champion to deliver digital transformation in this part of the world.”

These were the concluding words of the Honourable Minister Felix Mutati, Minister of Technology & Science of Zambia, as he ended his discussion with Mr Francois Coupienne, Global Digital Lead for the Inclusive Digital Economies practice at UNCDF.

This exchange was the highlight of the event organized for the launch of the 4th edition of the Inclusive Digital Economies Scorecard (IDES) on Wednesday, 25 October 2023.

During this event, Zambia was in the spotlight as one of the best-performing countries among the IDES assessed countries.

With an increase of 10 percentage points and a shift from the start-up to the expansion phase of its digital economy, Zambia stands out from the other 25 countries analysed through the lens of the IDES indicators. These achievements are confirmed by other measurement tools like the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index where Zambia is ranked as the best-performing market since 2017.

In this discussion, the Honourable Minister shared how the IDES provides a framework to look at the components of a digital economy and its inclusiveness. The data collected and analysed allows the different ministries involved to map out the journey for a coordinated transformation. By providing a baseline, the IDES scores deliver understanding and transparency relating to a country’s state of digital development in terms of infrastructure, skills, innovation and policy and regulation.

The discussion with the Minister was preceded by welcoming remarks from Ms Florence Raes, UN Women Director in Brussels Office, who acknowledged the many partners involved in the creation of the IDES: UNDP, the European Union and the GSMA to name a few. UN Women also contributed to the development of the Women Inclusion section of the scorecard as technology is one of the critical drivers of women’s economic empowerment.

Ms. Raes’ remarks were followed by Mr. Sandro Bazzanella, Director of the EU Digital for Development (D4D) Hub. Bazzanella stressed the importance of the regularity of the IDES and the quality of the score by saying. “The data [in the IDES] are not only action oriented, but also citizen centric. And it’s impressive that this [data collection] can be done on a regular basis, as we are here already in the fourth edition.”

Ms. Iris Kissiti, Digital Finance Country Specialist for UNCDF in Malawi, delivered a presentation on IDES for the event. With this 4th edition of the IDES, Kissiti shared the progress that was made in the 25 countries assessed by the IDES. The results showed a global progression of 4% but with no global progress in the digital skills index, which remains at 41% since 2020.

The closing remarks were given by Mr Georges Van Montfort, Deputy Director of UNDP in Brussels, as UNDP was also a partner in the development of the IDES. Van Montfort took the floor to share his takeaways from the journey described by the Minster of Zambia. “First, I’ve taken good note of your three A’s [Access, Availability, Affordability] as you spoke about your citizens and your three I’s [Innovation, Infrastructure, Investment], when you talked about your private sector investment. And I was waiting for the three AI’s. Now, as artificial intelligence is taking over all of our domains at the moment, but I’m sure you’ll be leading us. The key takeaway that we’ve heard from both you, Honourable Minister and the colleagues around the table today, is the central role of governments and their partners in using the data that the IDES tool provides to drive a successful and inclusive digital transformation. Over the last 2 years we’ve seen a 4% growth across the board in all the digital economies. And it’s 25 countries that are being measured. So that’s quite significant.”

To hear more about the evolution of the scores and the dialogue with Honourable Minister Felix Mutati watch the webinar recording available on YouTube:

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