Alison Gillwald participated in an ITU webinar on digital inequality and COVID-19 on 29 July 2020.
The webinar focused on the impact of ICT infrastructure on COVID-19, through the role played by digital exclusion on the effectiveness of Public Health policies.
In her presentation, Gillwald cautioned that “technology will not necessarily translate to economic development, wage growth or productivity”.
“Unless there is very intentional balancing of commercial, supply side valuation in the allocation of resources to demand side valuation considerations, advanced technologies will exacerbate digital inequality rather than alleviate it,” she said.
In her response to the challenge of digital inequality, Gillwald calls for a “New Digital Deal” based on a social compact that will require a competent state with institutional capacity to play an enabling role. This builds on the call made by UNCTAD for a New Deal to build stable inclusive societies globally.
According to UNCTAD, the aim is “to catalyse a big transformative push by breaking with austerity economics, promoting public investment and crowding-in productive private investment, and notably for developing nations also calls for “policy experimentation”. Applying these principles to a ‘New Digital Deal’, Gillwald highlights free public wifi, amongst others, as an area for policy experimentation for market transformation.
For more policy proposals from Gillwald, download her PowerPoint presentation, which you can access below.