Is Central Asia Missing Out On A Digital Future: A Quick Rundown

With the world entering a new age of Globalization 2.0, countries in Central Asia starve to produce rules, standards, and norms for the modern digital future. The professionals from the Sustainable Business Network, United Nations, Social, and Economic Commission for Asia-Pacific, remark that the United States led the development of the global rules-based conformity that supported Globalization 1.0. Provided the rise of Asia and China, they ask who is going to take the role in Globalization 2.0 in assuring privacy, cybersecurity, and different significant safety factors?

2020 happened to be a turning point in several ways. Admittedly, 2020 could symbolize the summing-up of a prolonged period of international cooperation that gave birth to Globalization 1.0, including that the world remains in the nucleus of a solid shift to Globalization 2.0. But, where is the challenge? Well, that remarks the shaping of a modern digital future.

What Was Globalization 1.0 Like?

Globalization 1.0 was all regarding development backed by an increase in trade, changes in worldwide value chains, as well as investment flows and surging capital. The most prosperous Asia-Pacific marketplaces found ambitious niches within this era of burgeoning possibilities, marked by the development of the middle class largely.

What Will Globalization 2.0 Be?

Globalization 2.0 is likely to be all regarding data flow as well as platforms and networks backed by artificial intelligence (AI). It is unclear. But, developing techno-nationalism might generate rival situations detached from each other. It is a trend characterized by some as deglobalization. 

If that happens to be the direction for the global economy, where does the Asia Pacific stand? Asia is presently at the core of the worldwide economy, plus its national economies happen to be growing more combined by regional collaboration. By 2040, Asia is likely to account for half of the global GDP. Therefore, the land is expected to possess an outsized impact on the evolution of the subsequent phase of globalization. This brings us to the second phase of globalization, which also marks a growing possibility of digital connectivity as well. 

Digital Connectivity In Central Asia

Essential digital connectivity refers to the connectivity that still happens to be available, convenient, consistent, cheap, reliable, committed, and user-empowering, which is a requirement in today’s world —and frequently, can be termed as a human right. 

According to studies, Nations having a robust connectivity infrastructure can eliminate or reduce up to 50% of the negative economic impacts due to the covid-19 pandemic. Apart from that, only a 10% increase in digital connectivity can add one person to the overall economic growth. Furthermore, a percent increase in broadband connectivity can increase exports by 4.3 %. 

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Regrettably, Central Asia has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring good connectivity as well as facilitating people and economies to benefit from digital development. Approximately half the population does not happen to be digitally connected, and among them reside in remote or rural areas. Out of five countries within Central Asia, more or less 3 countries come below the Global average when it comes to internet usage. 

Where Does The Challenge Lie?

The lack of access Being a major problem for Digital connectivity in Central Asia, the expensive internet connection also adds to the problem along with its poor quality.  As far as the central Asian nations are concerned, the average time required for downloading a 5GB movie or an educational lecture of 3 hours in full HD mode on YouTube requires quite a time as compared to other Nations. This is what the source of the problem lies. 

What’s the Solution? 

Central Asian governments have demonstrated that they are likely to move quickly when required. For instance, Uzbekistan approximately doubled its fiber-optic infrastructure starting from 36600 kilometers in 2019 to 68600 kilometers in 2020. They have also simplified permits concerning the construction along with the launch of cell towers, hence facilitating an enhanced rollout of mobile networks. 

Having said that, there are numerous examples throughout the area that range from enhancing access to Digital Services to setting up hotlines and call centers along with information platforms and launching channels. Each of these changes prompted the requirement to quickly respond to the covid-19 pandemic

Plan of Action

The governments of Central Asia still require addressing when it comes to the root causes of the poor connectivity of the region. It is anticipated that Nations are required to invest at least 6 billion dollars when it comes to connecting the remaining half of the population by 2030. This will demand unprecedented multi-stakeholder effort and unwavering political will. Other than that, public sector efforts and a massive influx of private investment concerning infrastructure deployment will be required. 

Central Asian nations are required to develop competitive and open telecom markets. This can be done by modernizing the legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks. The telecom sector needs to be transformed from an estate-dominated model to one backed by the private sector. Private investments are the key to covering the infrastructure requirements. 

With that being stated, developing a digital ecosystem is the need of the hour by the governments in Central Asia, hence including investments in enhancing access to digital devices. 

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Wrapping Up

Central Asian nations can seize the moment when it comes to ensuring meaningful and inclusive digital access for all as the World Bank is likely to support Central Asian governments for these efforts. This will not only help create jobs, speed up economic recovery, but also promote much-needed development throughout the area. 

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