Business and Economics > Industries: Information Technololgy

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Edward Oughton, Mr. David Amaglobeli, and Mr. Mariano Moszoro
We develop a detailed model to evaluate the necessary investment requirements to achieve affordable universal broadband. The results indicate that approximately $418 billion needs to be mobilized to connect all unconnected citizens globally (targeting 40-50 GB/Month per user with 95 percent reliability). The bulk of additional investment is for emerging market economies (73 percent) and low-income developing countries (24 percent). We also find that if the data consumption level is lowered to 10-20 GB/Month per user, the total cost decreases by up to about half, whereas raising data consumption to 80-100 GB/Month per user leads to a cost increase of roughly 90 percent relative to the baseline. Moreover, a 40 percent cost decrease occurs when varying the peak hour quality of service level from the baseline 95 percent reliability, to only 50 percent reliability. To conclude, broadband policy assessments should be explicit about the quantity of data and the reliability of service provided to users. Failure to do so will lead to inaccurate estimates and, ultimately, to poor broadband policy decisions.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Kaustubh Chahande, Hua Chai, Yadian Chen, Alessia De Stefani, Yosuke Kido, Fan Qi, and Alexandre Sollaci
COVID-19 hit on the back of weakening productivity growth in many advanced and emerging Asian countries, a trend that could be exacerbated by the pandemic. Interestingly, productivity growth in the region was slowing even amid increased innovation effort, as proxied by spending on research and development (R&D) and number of patents. A key element underpinning this disconnect is the growing dispersion in productivity growth, innovation effort, and digitalization across and within sectors. Asia has risen to become an innovation powerhouse, contributing to more than half of world patents. The rise of Asia as an innovation hub has been driven by a few frontier countries that have experienced a sharp increase in digital and computer-related patents, supported by solid R&D spending and a large share of researchers in the labor force. Within countries, R&D has become more concentrated in a smaller share of firms in frontier Asia. Empirical evidence using firm-level data highlight that the high concentration in R&D is associated with large dispersion in productivity. External exposure to competition and innovation, including through trade, supports innovation and help close productivity gaps for firms closer to the frontier. Non-frontier Asian developing countries have benefited from technology diffusion through a higher share of imported high-technology goods and by granting more patents to non-residents, supported by improvements in human capital and digital infrastructure. For these countries, further integration to the international economy, including global value chains, greater entrepreneurship, and expanding innovative labour supply could support productivity by encouraging innovation, including process innovation which is associated with larger productivity at the firm-level. Policies to foster innovation, reduce productivity gaps, and ultimately boost aggregate productivity can be grouped into two buckets. For countries close to the technological frontier, R&D tax credits and grants, business-university R&D collaboration, and lower trade barriers would support broader-based innovation and help close productivity gaps. For countries farther from the frontier, further improvements in digital infrastructure, skilled labor force, openness to trade and FDI, and patent protection, could promote resource reallocation to the most productive firms and enhance incentives for technological adoption, supporting diffusion and higher productivity.
International Monetary Fund. Policy Development and Review Dept.
The membership is facing significant challenges, including high inflation, rising food and energy insecurity, elevated debt levels, tightening financial conditions, volatile capital flows and exchange rates, and intensifying geopolitical fragmentation. To this end, the Executive Board Work Program focuses on policy responses and bilateral and multilateral advice to stabilize the global economy and build resilience, critical financial assistance to those countries most affected by these shocks, and capacity development support to help implement policy advice. More than ever, the Fund has a key role to play in promoting international cooperation and collaborative solutions to shared challenges, including those related to climate, digitalization, and inclusion.
Alexander Copestake, Julia Estefania-Flores, and Davide Furceri
This paper investigates the role of digitialization in improving economic resilience. Using balance sheet data from 24,000 firms in 75 countries, and a difference-in-differences approach, we find that firms in industries that are more digitalized experience lower revenue losses following recessions. Early data since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic suggest an even larger effect during the resulting recessions. These results are robust across a wide range of digitalization measures—such as ICT input and employment shares, robot usage, online sales, intangible assets and digital skills listed on online profiles—and several alternative specifications.
Brent Moulton, James Tebrake, and Martha Tovar
The pervasive impact of digitalization on the economy and the lack of an agreed definition makes it challenging to obtain estimates of the digital economy. Nowadays, some countries have estimated the value of the digital economy by identifying digital products or industries as defined in the international classifications. This study presents the estimates of digital industries for five countries that participated in an experimental exercise, applying a simplified standard approach recommended by the international agencies as part of the national accounts framework and using publicly available and limited secondary information. The results show that the structure and evolution of digital industries vary across countries and over time and that the estimates depend significantly on the underlying data sources. The conclusions of this exercise reveal the need to upgrade the data sources to better identify the impact of digitalization and contribute to policy-making on the economic benefits of digitalization.