The Impact of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Friday, 14 August, 2020 - 11:15

3. Impact of ICT & Digital Economy
Digitization, including computing, broadband and mobile telephone networks, helps in relaxing scalability constraints, thus allowing traditional sectors of the economy to grow more rapidly. Mature technologies contribute to improving productivity owing to the introduction of more efficient business processes supported by ICTs, marketing excess inventories and supply chain optimization. Moreover, digitization results in extending market coverage leading to revenue growth. It also affects the composition and operation of industrial value chains. In addition, digitization promotes the growth of some industries within the services sector (e.g. business process outsourcing, and software development.
Economic Growth:
The introduction of new applications and services, including for example internet information searches, distance education, e-commerce and social networks boosts economic growth. These technologies facilitate businesses in lowering costs, and hence increase efficiency and labour productivity in almost all economic sectors. This is due to the fact that increasing access to digital technologies lead to the optimization of inventory and supply chain management, hence allowing the better utilization of resources.
Furthermore, the internet contributes to making workers more productive, as it helps in handing off routine and repetitive tasks to technology, and hence workers can focus on activities with higher value. Additionally, the developments in big data analysis, robotics, and machine learning have significant implications form productivity improvements.
Digitization had significant impact on employment, since it increases the demand for labour. In addition, it results in job creation due to the construction and deployment of telecommunications networks. Many jobs were created as a result of increased demand for labour in specific jobs linked to the development of digital services or the emergence of collaborative business models. In general, digitization creates new jobs, whereas other jobs turn out to be redundant. It transforms existing jobs, since new skills are required to accomplish new tasks. This implies that the current work force has to be either retrained or replaced by workers who already have these skills.
Digital technologies have made it possible to monitor the performance of the workers thereby improving management and institutional reforms within the government.
Overcoming Information Barriers:
Finally, it is true that digital technologies help overcome information barriers that hinder service delivery. Comparison between ICT and SDG scores reveal a strong correlation between the two, suggesting that ICT enables the countries to fast-track their progress on the SDGs. Majority of the countries at the top of the benchmark are primarily European countries which is relatively not a surprising, as European countries lead both in the progression in ICT and sustainable development. The benchmark reveals a significant gap to close between the lowest scoring country (Pakistan) and highest scoring country (South Korea). Almost all the leader countries score evenly on six of the SDGs (good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, Industry innovation and infrastructure, Sustainable cities and communities) which can be highly influenced through ICT.
4. Globalization and Technology.
Globalization and technology are intimately intertwined. The movement of people, goods and ideas is accelerated and broadened by new forms of transport and communication. And technological development is, in turn, enhanced by the diversity of ideas and the increased scale that comes from global reach.
During each phase of globalization, technology has played a defining role in shaping both opportunities and risks. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution drives a new phase of globalization “Globalization 4.0” here are five things we can learn from looking backwards, and forwards, at the impact of technology.

1. Even as technology improves, globalization is not inevitable

While it may be tempting to think of globalization as a core characteristic of modernity that has steadily progressed since the First Industrial Revolution, this is not the case. The last major reversal occurred thanks to the First World War and the subsequent period of economic turmoil. Indeed, levels of global economic integration reached a peak in 1914 and it took until the second half of the 20th Century for these heights to be recovered.

2. Global systems and standards matter more than individual technologies

The falling cost of transport and communications makes it viable to exchange more things, just as the steamship reduced the time and cost to cross the Atlantic on a reliable schedule during the 19th Century. But it’s important to note that it’s only when a technology becomes a system that the world changes.
The intermodal shipping container, which revolutionized global trade in goods from the 1950s on, is far more than a steel box – it is a set of standards that define the dimensions, strength and lifting points of containers, which complement the design of cranes, ships, trucks and trains around the world. The first purpose-built container crane could shift loads at more than 40 times the average productivity of a longshore gang using “break bulk” methods of shipping.
Thanks to the spread of global standards that were formed in the mid-1960s, this productivity was able to spread around the world. And this directly affected employment in the shipping sectors, as manual jobs were automated by the arrival of cranes and containers. Global trade and global wealth not only jumped but moved to a new rate of growth which persisted over decades as entrepreneurs and whole new economies found it viable to supply to markets around the world.


Luis Neves, Chairman, Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
Rose Stuckey Kirk, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer & President, Verizon Foundation
Sigve Brekke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group
carbon economy. And much more is possible by 2030.
Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive, BT Group
Nicholas Davis, Professor of Practice, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Visiting Professor in Cybersecurity, UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy
Derek O'Halloran, Head of Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation, World Economic Forum
Dr. Hesham O, Dinana, The American University in Cairo (AUC) School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP)

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