Over 700m people have no access to broadband connectivity, one billion lack formal identification: IMF

Doaa A.Moneim , Thursday 5 Nov 2020

The IMF has urged policymakers to invest in digital infrastructure and digital identity in order to enable citizens to access online services

Over 700 million people have no access to broadband connectivity, while over a billion lack formal identification, according to a new blog post published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Thursday.

The post was drafted by the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Patrick Njoroge, and director of the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department (SPR) of the IMF, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu.

The IMF urges countries across the world must invest in digital infrastructure and digital identity in order to enable their citizens to access online services, in addition to investing in numeracy and financial literacy, according to the post.

The post stressed that international cooperation will be needed to support this drive, adding that IMF, World Bank and other international institutions are working with the private and public sectors globally to help.

Adopting digitalisation and bridging digital divides in communities can help with regard to dealing with current global challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the post.

The post cited the notable role that digital solutions have played since the onset of the pandemic to make the people’s lives easier, including online shopping and entertainment, digital financial services, and virtual meetings and events.

Njoroge and Pazarbasioglu underlined that adopting digitalisation must be driven by the needs of the people, and work for them. They also called on policymakers, especially in developing countries, to strengthen the governance of global digital financial platforms.

“The so-called Big Techs are transforming the delivery of services globally, including in developing countries. Covid-19 has accelerated this trend as they get more
entrenched in everybody’s lives. However, developing countries have not been at the table when the governance of these platforms is discussed. 

"One of the taskforce’s key initiatives is the Dialogue on Global Digital Finance Governance, that seeks to facilitate a balanced and more inclusive dialogue, particularly involving developing nations, on better aligning Big Tech governance to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” according to the post.

Risks that digitalisation involves and that need to be dealt with include cybersecurity and data privacy, especially for vulnerable citizens using digital services for the first time. “We must mitigate these risks and protect their information and their hard-earned money,” the post urged.

The post added that the ongoing crisis presents a great opportunity to enhance the lives and livelihoods of citizens. Thus, governments, the private sector, international institutions and citizens must take up the challenge of increasing digitalisation and making a difference.

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