COVID-19: United Nations argues that action is needed to avoid widening the digital divide

COVID-19: United Nations argues that action is needed to avoid widening the digital divide

The accelerated adoption of the digital economy, driven by the crisis that the COVID-19 outbreak is generating, may be contributing to aggravate the digital divide that exists between some regions of the world. The warning is based on the results of a UNCTAD study, which shows how the digital world is working, but not equally for everyone.

According to the United Nations Trade and Development unit, the global crisis caused by the pandemic is leading to an even more digital world and changes in behavior that, most likely, will have effects that will remain when the economy starts to recover. But not everyone is prepared to embrace a more digital existence.

The results of the analysis indicate that the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 is accelerating the adoption of digital solutions, tools and services, accelerating the global transition to the so-called digital economy. At the same time, they expose the abyss that separates connected and unconnected, revealing the marked technological backwardness of many.

"Inequalities in access to digital make it difficult for some parts of the world to take advantage of the technologies that help us deal with the coronavirus pandemic while we are at home," says Shamika Sirimanne, director of technology and logistics at UNCTAD.

a situation with significant implications that cannot be ignored. We must ensure that we do not leave the less 'digitally equipped' further behind in the post-coronavirus world.

Outbreak also demonstrates undeniable contribution of technologies

Part of the possibility of the digital divide widening, the analysis also shows how important technology is being as a tool to maintain the continuity of business activity and the daily lives of people.

The United Nations report indicates that measures to contain the pandemic of the new coronavirus have seen more companies and governments betting on the internet to make their services available.

Different digital platforms are also thriving, as consumers look for entertainment, shopping opportunities and new ways to connect during the crisis.

"There are incredible positive aspects emerging that show the potential of a digitally transformed world," recognizes Sirimanne.

Telemedicine, teleworking and elearning are aspects that digitization is driving. It is also generating more data on the expansion of the virus and contributing to the production and exchange of information for scientific research.