Making America First in the Digital Economy: The Case for Engaging Europe (Report)

atlantic-councilIn an age of transatlantic tensions over the Iran deal, trade balances, and steel tariffs, digital policy is uniquely poised to offer opportunities for greater US-EU cooperation. At the same time, the digital arena also has the potential to be a policy minefield, with issues such as privacy, digital taxation, and competition policy still unresolved. Making America First in the Digital Economy: The Case for Engaging Europe addresses these challenges and explores how the US-EU digital agenda fits in the larger transatlantic relationship.

Making America First—but Not Alone—in the Digital Economy
For the United States to continue as a leader in the digital economy, it must engage with Europe. Strong and early US engagement could help moderate European policy while ensuring greater compatibility across the Atlantic. That compatibility is essential if the United States and Europe are to succeed in fighting cyberattacks, online terrorism, and criminal networks. It is also key to US and EU future economic success in the competitive global digital marketplace.” excerpt

Written by Atlantic Council expert Frances Burwell, a distinguished fellow with the Future Europe Initiative, this report analyzes the prospects for US-EU collaboration in the digital economy, identifying potential crisis points and next best steps forward.

Report 

Source: http://www.atlanticcouncil.org 

A New Economy for the Middle East and North Africa

menaDespite its geopolitical challenges, the economies of the Middle East and North Africa have vast untapped potential in their young, educated, and tech-savvy populations. If governments can implement the reforms needed to shift from public- to private-sector-led development, the region’s economies could become digital powerhouses.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) possess all of the ingredients they need to leapfrog into the digital future. They have large, well-educated youth populations that have already adopted new digital and mobile technologies on a wide scale. That combination has immense potential to drive future growth and job creation. But will it?

Public spending, the region’s historical engine of development, has reached its limit. Because the public sector can no longer absorb the swelling ranks of university graduates, the MENA region now has one of the world’s highest rates of youth unemployment.

The digital economy holds the promise of a new way forward, but it is still in its infancy, and young people face obstacles in putting technology to productive use. Although the Internet and hand-held devices are ubiquitous throughout the region, they are currently used for accessing social media, rather than for launching new enterprises.

But there are green shoots emerging. For example, the ride-hailing app Careem has grown from a start-up to a billion-dollar company, creating thousands of jobs in more than 90 cities in the MENA region and in Pakistan and Turkey. And new digital platforms are already connecting job seekers and employers, providing vocational training, and hosting start-up incubators. The challenge now is to create the conditions for these green shoots to grow and multiply.

The first, essential step is for MENA countries to become “learning societies,” a phrase coined by the Nobel laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz to describe countries in which shared knowledge leads to increased innovation. This, in turn, fosters development; and in the case of MENA, it could lead to the creation of a vibrant digital service economy.

To get there, education systems will need to change. For the region’s young people, the curriculum is more often a source of frustration than advancement. The concept of a “skills premium” – the difference in wages between skilled and unskilled workers – dictates that higher educational attainment should lead to higher compensation and more secure employment. Yet in the MENA region, the opposite has happened: university graduates are far more likely to be unemployed than are workers with only a basic education.

Two factors work against the region’s young people. First, schools are still geared toward channeling graduates into large public sectors, which means they place less emphasis on fields such as mathematics and science. Second, bloated public sectors are crowding out the private sector, which would otherwise be a larger provider of high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Because the future economy will need technologically capable workers, curricula should be reoriented toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects and away from the social studies that were long prized by public-sector employers.

Moreover, education systems should focus on encouraging greater openness to innovation and risk-taking – a significant departure from the attitudes reproduced under a system of public-sector patronage. Specifically, moving toward an innovative “learning society” will require students to hone their critical-thinking and managerial skills within collaborative work arrangements.

In addition to skills, the digital economy will also need technical infrastructure. Connectivity is a prerequisite for the delivery of new mobile and digital services in e-commerce, vocational training, health care, and finance, all of which could substantially increase overall welfare. Countries in the region thus need to focus on expanding broadband Internet access.

Education and Internet infrastructure geared toward productive use would provide the foundation of a new economy. But ensuring sustained growth in the region will require improving its financial systems as well. A digital economy depends on payment systems that are not just easy to use and widely available, but also trustworthy. Developing effective peer-to-peer payments that require no financial intermediary like a bank will be crucial for ensuring that digital platforms for ride sharing, on-demand tasks, and other services can thrive.

Outside of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which have relatively advanced payment systems, the quality of financial services in the MENA region currently lags behind most of the rest of the world. Barring improvements to the financial system, and to the banking sector in particular, the potential of the region’s vast human capital will not be realized.

Lastly, governments will need to develop an approach to regulation that encourages, rather than stifles, innovation. To be sure, ensuring confidence, especially in financial systems, is essential; but regulation must be balanced with policies to boost competition, so that start-ups can easily enter the market and test new ideas. There needs to be more space for more companies like Careem to emerge. Policymakers should look to Kenya’s model of light but effective regulation, which has fostered the rapid growth of the peer-to-peer payment system M-Pesa.

Seizing the opportunities that the digital economy offers the MENA region will require a big push. Policymakers will need to work on multiple fronts, while making the best use of all available tools. The sooner they start, the greater the chance that today’s young people can overcome economic exclusion and gain more opportunities to realize their – and their region’s – full potential.

source: www.project-syndicate.org

2018 Digital Economy & Creative Content Forum (Video)

IndonesiaThe Centre for Content Promotion is partnering with APROFI and BEKRAF in Indonesia to convene a one-day forum on May 3, 2018.  The event entitled “2018 Digital Economy & Creative Content Forum” has a particular emphasis on exploring topics on the future of creative digital media, barriers to realising the full potential of a digital economy and maximising the value of IP rights in the digital age.

Panel 2: Global and local success measures

Topics: Site Blocking efficacy around the world, Safe Harbor “notice and staydown” effectiveness, monetization of IP rights for Indonesian films

Speakers:

Brett Danaher (CCP/Chapman University),

Frank Rittman – CCP (Centre for Content Protection)

Sheila Timothy (Producer, Lifelike Pictures)

Panel 3: The future of the creative content industry

Topics: What’s on offer for content creators, content distributors and Indonesian audiences, and what do online content services seek for their platform?

Speakers:

Jennifer Batty – Chief Content Officer HOOQ

Christopher Smith – SVP Content & Distribution, GoPlay (a GOJEK company)

iFlix

Agenda

India:Google tax may be broadened to cover non-digital MNCs

India FlagMUMBAI: A budgetary proposal to tax multinationals with a substantial user base in India such as Google and Facebook is now being widened to include non-digital companies.
This could mean that any company that merely sells goods or services in India could see domestic taxes of up to 42% on their profits, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The government is planning to introduce rules to effect the change proposed in the budget in the coming weeks, said one of the persons quoted above.
Many tax experts fear this could impact several multinational companies that only export goods or services to India.

“The question is whether there is a tax to do business with India. If non-digital companies that merely trade with India could see their business connection/permanent establishment set in India slapped with domestic taxes, this could lead to unsettling of settled tax positions,” said , partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP.

According to another person with direct knowledge of the matter, the impact on non-digital companies is unintentional.

Source:https://economictimes.indiatimes.com

Putin signs new ‘May Decree’ spelling out Russia’s development goals to 2024

russiaRussian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree setting the national development targets up to 2024, the Kremlin’s press-service said.

Earlier in the day Putin was sworn into office for another six-year term at an inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin.

By signing a major decree immediately after taking office Putin continued the tradition of eleven decrees of May 7, 2012, which identified the main tasks of the country’s socio-economic development for years to come.

Russia should join the group of the world’s five largest economies by 2024, according to the Russian president’s decree on the country’s national goals and strategic development tasks.

 The document sets several goals, which the Russian government should achieve by 2024.

One of the tasks says that “the Russian Federation should join the group of the world’s five largest economies, ensure economic growth rates above the world’s level while keeping macroeconomic stability, including inflation at no more than 4%”.

National projects

The Russian government should develop or revise national projects in twelve areas, ranging from demography to international cooperation and export supports, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced.

“The Russian Government in line with national goals is to develop (revise) in cooperation with government authorities of Russian constituencies and present national projects (programs) in the following areas by October 1, 2018 for consideration at the meeting of the Council under the Russian president for Strategic Development and Priority Projects: demography, healthcare, education, housing and urban environment, ecology, safe and quality motorways, labor productivity and employment support, science, digital economy, culture, small and medium enterprises and support of individual business initiative, international cooperation and export,” the Decree reads.

Digital economy

The government should ensure growth of the share of costs for the digital economy development in Russia’s GDP of at least 3-fold in 2024 compared to 2017, Vladimir Putin said.

The targets to be achieved by the government in 2024 include increasing domestic expenditures for the development of the digital economy at the expense of all sources (by share in the country’s gross domestic product) at least 3-fold compared to 2017.

Putin also instructed to ensure “creating a stable and secure ICT infrastructure for high-speed transmission, processing and storage of large amounts of data accessible to all organizations and households.”

At the same time, state bodies, local governments and organizations in 2024 should use predominantly domestic software.

By 2024, the government should also create a legal regulation system for the digital economy, based on a flexible approach in each sphere.

The president also instructed to ensure information security on the basis of domestic technologies.

Putin also urged to solve the problem of transforming priority sectors of the economy and the social sphere through the introduction of digital technologies and platform solutions.

The program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation“, approved in the summer of 2017, was designed up to 2024 and consists of five areas: normative regulation, education, personnel, cybersecurity, formation of research competencies and IT infrastructure. Part of the activities envisaged by the documents are already being implemented.

Source: www.tass.com 

Nevis developing its digital economy through e-government transformation

nevisAs most Caribbean islands seek to improve their information and communications technology (ICT) sector, Nevis is also aggressively developing their digital economy through e-government transformation.

The recent inauguration of Hon. Troy Liburd, first Minister of ICT, with responsibility for Education, Library Services and Information Technology in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), re-affirmed this island’s commitment to developing ICT and implementing 21st Century Government.

The Information Technology (IT) Department of the NIA, which falls under the remit of this Ministry, is seeking to raise public awareness and foster greater understanding of ICT in the wider community through outreach activities. While some internal applications already exist in the NIA in the Office of the Premier, Customs, Financial Services and the Inland Revenue Department, the IT Department is working towards implementing e-services to improve e-government processes in the island. Nevis already has a sound Wide Area Network – one of the fundamental requirements for supporting digital government initiatives.

 One outreach activity is the Department’s hosting of its second annual ICT Week which took place from April 29th to May 5th 2018. Mr. Quincy Prentice, Director of the NIA Technology Department, in elaborating on the theme of this year’s event, ‘ICT – Supporting the Trust Towards 21st Century Economy’ stated, “The goals of ICT Week are to promote the growth and development of the local ICT sector; to connect ICT solution providers with solution seekers; to raise awareness about critical ICT issues such as cyber-security, cloud computing, block chain technologies and artificial intelligence; and to generate interest in ICT as a career path amongst youth.”
 One of the feature components of this year’s event was the 21st Century Government Workshop. Conceived by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), according to Secretary General Bernadette Lewis in her Opening Remarks, “The 21st Century Government initiative seeks to establish citizen-centric seamless Governments that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century and therefore foster transformation of the public service.” She further added, “The workshop was designed to review the policy and planning framework and assess the current state of digital government in St Kitts and Nevis with specific emphasis on Nevis.”

Led by CTU’s ICT Consultant, Gary Kalloo, and Ernst and Young’s Executive Director and Caribbean Lead, Government and Public Sector, Devindra Ramnarine, this interactive, informative and capacity building workshop covered five critical components of 21st Century Government; creating an enabling environment, building the infrastructure, digitising the landscape, protecting the future and financing the vision. The workshop was used to validate the current state of these components through stakeholder engagements and information collated from a questionnaire on the state of digital government readiness assessment.

The workshop was used to identify gaps, priority areas and possible action agenda for implementing 21st Century Government in Nevis. Follow up workshops will be conducted with the business community and senior government officials to get their support to accelerate the implementation of 21st Century Government.

source:www.eturbonews.com 

Alibaba brings focus on tech-based education curriculum

King-Mongkuts-Institute-of-Technology-Ladkrabang-CHINESE e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Bt11-billion promised investment in Thailand have prompted the country’s higher education institutes to step up their technology and related curriculum in preparation for a rising demand for digital skills.

Suchatchavee Suwansawas, rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, said Jack Ma’s larger presence here via the Alibaba e-commerce, payment, logistics, and tourism projects had further boosted Thai people’s awareness of digital technology, social media, e-commerce and related fields.

Universities in Thailand are now set to produce more graduates in digital technology, “big data” and artificial intelligence (AI), he said.

Ek Pattarathanakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Accountancy, said Thai enterprises needed to adapt and learn new things from the Alibaba projects in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Another option would be to focus on specific and niche market segments to avoid direct competition with the giant e-commerce and related platforms, he said.

Saowaraj Ratanakamfu of the Thailand Development Research Institute said the biggest challenge in accommodating Alibaba’s investment projects in this country lay in the availability of workers with digital and related skills. This takes on increased importance with Thailand serving as a regional hub for the Chinese giant.

At present, Thailand has more than 427 bachelor’s degree programmes that include digital and related subjects, with a combined capacity to produce over 26,000 graduates in these fields per year. Yet the quality of graduates is not yet sufficiently high in terms of meeting the labour market’s requirement.

All programmes and curriculum need to be updated frequently because technology changes rapidly, Saowaraj said, adding that the country also needed to add value to existing investments in the digital economy to stay competitive. She cited Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan as examples that leverage disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things

source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com