NAMIBIA is ripe for transformation and digitalisation provides an inflection point, in which Namibia can transform the local economy and create many new opportunities.
Withstanding the view that if harnessed by both the private and public sectors, digitalisation can allow Namibia to position itself as a leading developing economy, it is also factual that much of the value that digitalisation can potentially generate for society will remain trapped unless efforts are stepped up to align private-sector investment incentives with the long-term public goods.
In the past week, the World Economic Forum Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) made an analysis which estimates that more than half of the value that digitalisation offers is in the form of societal benefits. These include net job creation and reduced income inequality, improved health outcomes and fewer accidents, reduced carbon emissions and time and cost savings for consumers.
The WEF acknowledged that the majority of the benefits of digital will accrue to society, but only if collective action is taken to assess the potential, using consistent criteria to evaluate the outcomes of specific policy actions. A greater change in the mindset of business will also be necessary. The private sector will have to go beyond measuring performance by growth and profit, and begin to embed sustainable and trust-based business models at the heart of their strategies.
In the Indian state of Telangana, four digital initiative models tried by the authorities demonstrated that value generated in the next decade could be equal to 40 percent of India’s GDP. Of the benefits of digitalisation, 94 percent could accrue to society and the environment, as opposed to industry.
The societal value framework includes a staged approach to help companies identify the initiatives that allow them to deliver greatest value to society while achieving long-term commercial benefits. This comprises steps to identify the social trends of greatest relevance to companies, track the potential value at enterprise level and execute strategies to achieve them.
For Namibia, to unlock the digital revolution’s full value to society, governments, businesses need to shape strategies that measure the value of innovation and investment. More than just paying lip-service to shared value, this means leaders applying hard-nosed economic tools to fully understand the costs and benefits of digital transformation for business and society, while committing to enhance the role of people at work.
It is imperative that Government adopts a range of actions, including rapid reskilling and greater alignment of education with the new demands of fast-changing markets. Other action areas include public-sector investment, tax incentives, simplified regulation and measures to improve transparency in the use of data so as to encourage wider adoption of new technologies.
Conclusively it is worth noting that while new technologies have the potential to increase economic growth, reduce inequality and promote inclusivity, they could be jeopardised by the retreat of globalisation, the rise of political populism and social instability thus it is vital that Namibia has responsive and responsible leadership to proactively counter forces that would constrain innovation, trade and growth.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015