When Estonia is contemplating a launch of its own digital currency (Estcoin), Deutsche Telekom is running pilots on a 5G connection, and America ponders the future of Net Neutrality, we witness various manifestations of the same dilemma: how will the increased digital connectivity revolutionise our technologies, reform our societies, and change our lives in the ways we can hardly anticipate?
The rollout of 5G is expected to enable and widely disseminate technologies, such as: the Internet of Things, self-driving cars, autonomous drones, and Star Wars-inspired hologram phones. What was considered science-fiction just a decade ago is currently being prototyped, tested, and piloted. A $1 billion investment in a New Mexico “ghost town” speaks for itself. And, as we enter the era of 5G, the formerly futuristic gadgets might just become commonplace.
But what are the broader policy implications of ever-improving connectivity?
What impact does mobile have on society? How can we find a balance between accelerating technological progress and governments’ responsibility to improve the economic conditions and raise the level of wellbeing for their citizens?
Competitiveness offers a useful framework for considering such questions. As the IMF warns about economic slowdown, markets grow more volatile, and pundits become increasingly pessimistic about growth prospects, enlightened policy-makers across the world have made the pursuit of competitiveness, rather than GDP, their principal economic goal. Competitiveness is about the fundamentals and the positioning for a successful future, unlike GDP, which is susceptible to Kondratiev Waves and is often dependent on natural endowments, commodities super-cycles, monetary policies in some of the world’s biggest economies, and other external factors.
What then is the best way to improve competitiveness? As with all the other complex problems, there isn’t a single solution. Different strategies apply to countries at different stages of development. Nevertheless, one policy area has a nearly universal applicability. This “silver bullet” of economic development is broadband connectivity.
About the Author
Andrew Chakhoyan is a founder and CEO of Strategic Narrative Consulting (www.snconsulting.nl). He advocates for public-private cooperation and is an influencer in the world of international affairs. Andrew is a regular contributor at the World Economic Forum. He may be reached at @ChakhoyanAndrew or www.linkedin.com/in/andrewchakhoyan