Digitalization is leading to a social and economic transformation, positively impacting lives of people across the planet.
The technological revolution is now rapidly extending beyond people to objects. It is not only changing how we communicate, but also bringing strong potential to increase the efficiency of healthcare systems, improve the accessibility to knowledge and quality education, reduce carbon emissions and improve safety on the roads.
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, will virtually all be supported by this technological advancement.
But countries, whether developed or developing, need to have the right policy and regulatory frameworks in place to enable digitalization.
It is no longer sufficient to focus solely on policies and regulations fostering connectivity. Sector-specific policies in areas of transportation, agriculture, health, education and others are equally important. Policy and regulatory environments in each of those sectors, sometimes written over a generation ago, must be assessed and revised to enable the benefits of digitalization to come to life as more people and things get connected.
Such an assessment will help governments across the world to capture the benefits of digitalization for the society by removing blockages and by introducing initiatives that enable the pace and scale of digital change.
That’s why the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, through its Working Group chaired by Nokia’s President and CEO Rajeev Suri, issued a study addressing policies and regulations for digital transformation.
“At a time when we are entering a digital revolution, policymakers and regulators everywhere are grappling with common and unfamiliar questions about how to balance and guide the path to digitalization.” – Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General
For the purpose of this report, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) conducted an assessment of policies and regulations in five sectors: transportation, healthcare, agriculture, education, e-government; and of digitalization foundations, such as digital skills, privacy and security and cloud. This was checked in six countries from various continents and at various stages of digital development: Colombia, Finland, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Singapore.
A ‘scorecard’ was created on that basis and helps to indicate whether policies and regulations in a given country and in a given sector are helpful to digitalization or blocking digital transformation. The report also includes a catalogue of best practices to help countries on their digitalization journey.
The Chair of the Working Group, Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri explains the motivations for the report: “Nokia aims to be one of the core catalysts of the digital revolution. We want this report to spur thinking and creativity within governments and policymakers around the world, ultimately creating a positive policy environment that will drive further broadband uptake in areas like education, agriculture, healthcare, transportation and government. The benefits that digitalization can provide should not be delayed simply because current regulations and policies are not keeping up with the pace of innovation.”
The Broadband Commission’s Co-Vice Chair Houlin Zhao believes that the scorecard will be a useful tool for governments:
“At a time when we are entering a digital revolution, policy makers and regulators everywhere are grappling with common and unfamiliar questions about how to balance and guide the path to digitalization. This study provides lessons learned from six pilot countries and draws on these examples with a set of recommendations calling for the strong digital foundation to support the digitalization in the sectoral initiatives.”
The report concludes with sector specific recommendations, as well as horizontal learnings, applicable across sectors and across different geographies. Here are some of the key findings, detailed in the report:
The scorecard and its findings were discussed during a workshop at WSIS Forum 2017 earlier this month in Geneva. This workshop focused on how policy interventions may advance the digitalization of sectors, such as education, agriculture, healthcare, transportation, e-government.
Panelists, including Marc Vancoppenolle from Nokia, Mohammad Chowdhury from PwC, Florence Gaudry Perkins – rep. Novartis Foundation, Sofie Maddens from ITU and Dr Martha Suarez from the National Spectrum Agency of Colombia debated how countries are performing when it comes to policies and regulations fostering digitalization.
Speakers agreed that a positive regulatory environment for the use cases is needed. A lively debate followed, moderated by Phillippa Biggs, ITU and the Broadband Commission. Panelists debated the necessity of regulation, and when it acts as an enabler and when it may deter innovation. Many stressed that a long-term vision and planning are needed to succeed. In addition, they stressed that governments need a champion at the highest level to ensure the consideration of digitalization in sectoral regulations.
• For more details, we invite you to visit: http://www.broadbandcommission.org/workinggroups/Pages/digiscorecard.aspx
• WSIS Forum 2017 session description
•WSIS Forum 2017 Outcome document