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The Digital Infrastructure Report

MD Staff



At a time when the potential of the internet for economic and social benefit seems boundless, major issues loom that could affect the ability of billions of people – 96 % of them in emerging markets – to get connected and participate fully in the digital economy. The Digital Infrastructure Report, explores these issues in depth.

The report, written in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group, argues that emerging markets face two broad issues in providing affordable internet access: building network capacity and expanding network coverage, including a critical and urgent need for more spectrum to be released and allocated to mobile usage. Encouraging broader internet usage, particularly in emerging markets, is also critical to bringing more people online.

The Digital Infrastructure Report also points out that the changing nature of consumer and business usage and the rise of the Internet of Things will have a significant impact on network infrastructure needs in developed and emerging markets. It argues that governments should support policies that encourage network investments to meet future traffic growth, including removing barriers to the roll-out of low-cost technologies such as small cells, experimentation with new commercial pricing models and the rationalization of legacy regulations.

“The technologies exist to help resolve several of these issues, but some are hampered by out-of-date policies, legislation and regulations,” said Bruce Weinelt, Director, Head of Telecommunication Industry, World Economic Forum. “There is a need for rationalization of legacy regulation, as well as experimentation with new commercial pricing models that can fund network investments without harming competition.”

As more of the world’s population migrates to urban centres, the development of “smart cities” requires the planning and deploying of ICT infrastructure. More than 1 billion people will move to cities over the next 15 years – about 360 new cities with populations of 500,000 or more will be created – mostly in developing markets. Governments need to set smart-city policies. These include determining targets for long-term investments in a city’s digital infrastructure and driving greater citizen engagement, and allowing industry to focus on the execution of the policies and deciding where the best returns on investment lie.

“Governments in emerging economies have been determining the specifics of their broadband access aspirations. This assessment should help to develop a country-specific operating and funding approach, one that is technology agnostic, provides incentives for investment and allows experimentation,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises. “Countries could learn from the different models being used to connect the economically unviable regions.”

As digital technologies become more pervasive in everyday life, there is a growing need to unlock consumer and industry value by removing frictions that prevent users from transporting and accessing their data, particularly their personal data and digital identities, while continuing to respect user privacy.

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Green technological innovation key to sustainable development

MD Staff



“Technological innovation and the development of environmental goods are key to ensuring demand-driven industrialization can be sustainable,” concluded participants today at the launch of the Industrial Development Report (IDR) 2018 organized during the 18th Global Development Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Development held in New Delhi, India.

Developed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the IDR2018 considers the importance of demand as a driver of industrial development. It argues that a critical mass of consumption of manufactures can set in motion a virtuous circle of industrial development – comprising income creation, demand diversification and massification of consumption – but that this requires specific policy measures to attain socially inclusive or environmentally sustainable industrialization.

Manufacturing is the prime provider of new varieties and qualities of goods. Over time, industries tend to decrease the prices of those goods, making them more accessible, explained Cecilia Ugaz Estrada, Director of the UNIDO Department of Policy Research and Statistics. “This has a positive impact on our living standards and wellbeing and directly contributes to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals, beyond SDG9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure.”

“High levels of innovation and technical change are essential for providing affordable varieties of quality goods while ensuring the activities are environmentally sustainable,” Estrada added.

The participants also looked into policies that can help steer demand towards the achievement of inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of the Consumer Unity & Trust Society, noted that competition policy is crucial to drive industrial growth and innovation and to ensure that affordable goods are available on the market. He also emphasized the importance of countries aligning their industrial and trade policies.

Vandana Kumar, Joint Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, validated the relevance of the report. “The virtuous circle of manufacturing demand has been keep kept in mind while developing India’s industrial policy,” she said.

Organized in partnership between the Campbell Collaboration, the Global Development Network (GDN), the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID) and UNIDO, the 18th Global Development Conference explores the potential contribution of STI for tackling development challenges and advancing the SDGs.

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Meet the MilleXZials: Generational Lines Blur as Media Consumption for Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z Converge

MD Staff



American consumers’ appetite for streaming video continues to grow, and they have no qualms shelling out cash for original content, according to Deloitte’s 12th edition of the “Digital Media Trends Survey” (formerly the “Digital Democracy” Survey). The report found that 55 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to at least one video streaming service, a 450 percent increase since 2009.

The survey found, on average, Americans watch 38 hours per week of video content (39 percent of which is streamed), nearly the equivalent of a full-time job. With over 200 streaming video on demand (SVOD) options in the U.S., the average streaming video subscriber is paying for three services resulting in U.S. consumers collectively spending $2.1 billion per month on SVOD services. High-quality original content appears to be driving an increase in streaming with nearly half (48 percent) of all U.S. consumers streaming television content every day or weekly, up 11 percent year-over-year.

Conversely, the report found pay TV subscriptions declined for the first time in recent years with 63 percent of households still subscribing to a traditional Pay TV service, down from 75 percent. Pay TV’s decline is especially pronounced among Generation Z (ages 14-20), Millennials (ages 21-34) and Generation X (ages 35-51).

“Consumers now enjoy unparalleled freedom in selecting media and entertainment options and their expectations are at an all-time high,” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. media and entertainment leader, Deloitte LLP. “The rapid growth of streaming services and high quality original content has created a significant opportunity to monetize the on-demand environment in 2018.”

Pay TV penetration declines

With video streaming enabling unprecedented choice and access to content, consumers perceive a widening gap between their expectations and what pay TV companies deliver, according to the report:

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of all pay TV subscribers said they are dissatisfied with their service and 70 percent of consumers feel they get too little value for their money.
  • Among respondents who said they no longer have a pay TV subscription, 27 percent reported they cancelled their service within the last year.
  • Furthermore, 22 percent of millennials say they have never subscribed to a pay TV service.
  • Twenty-two percent of all consumers without pay TV say they don’t watch enough TV to justify the expense and another 19 percent say they simply cannot afford it.
  • Fifty-six percent of current pay TV subscribers say they keep their pay TV because it’s bundled with their home internet access.

“As video streaming and demand for original content continue to grow, traditional and premium cable broadcasters will continue to rethink their business models,” continued Westcott. “Media companies are increasingly going direct-to-consumer with their own digital streaming services and snackable content. Ultimately, one challenge we see is that consumers may be reluctant to pay for exclusive content on top of their other paid subscription services and this may lead to some form of re-aggregation as limits on consumer spending could potentially hinder the growth of content platforms.”

The emergence of MilleXZials: 50 is the new 20

This year’s data indicates a convergence of media behavior across three key demographics. Gen X emerged as cutting-edge adopters of digital media embracing the digital media behaviors already adopted by Gen Z and millennials. Deloitte calls this combined demographic group “The MilleXZials.”

  • Seventy percent of Gen Z households had a streaming subscription, closely followed by millennials at 68 percent and Gen X at 64 percent, respectively.
  • About 70 percent of Gen Z and millennials stream movies compared with 60 percent of Gen X on a weekly basis.
  • Binge-watching behavior also witnessed a convergence among MilleXZials:
    • Ninety-one percent of Gen Z, 86 percent of millennials and 80 percent of Gen X binge-watch TV shows.
    • More than 40 percent of millennials binge watch weekly, and they watch an average of seven episodes and six hours in a single setting.
  • Ninety-six percent of MilleXZials multitask while watching TV.

“Millennials were the first generation to embrace streaming media and watching video content on smartphones,” said Dr. Jeff Loucks, the executive director, Deloitte Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Deloitte LLP. “Some hoped that as millennials got older, they would settle down and watch pay TV. Instead, their Gen X parents are acting more like millennials, using streaming services, watching TV shows, movies and sports on smartphones and binge watching.”

Consumers want more control over their personal data

Consumers are increasingly concerned about putting their personal data online. The study found 69 percent of consumers believe that companies are not doing everything they can to protect their personal data. However, 73 percent of all consumers said they would be more comfortable sharing their data if they had some visibility and control and 93 percent of U.S. consumers believe they should be able to delete their online data when they want.

The 12th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends survey provides insight into how five generations of U.S. consumers interact with media, products and services, mobile technologies and the internet. This year’s U.S. data was collected in November 2017 and employed an online methodology among 2,088 consumers.

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Coding with impact: Training female tech talent from Latin America

MD Staff



Photo ©Laboratoria

“We want to train young women to make them talented and globally competitive software developers.”

Meet Mariana Costa Checa, a young social entrepreneur from Peru. She is the CEO and Co-founder of Laboratoria a company that has been training young women coding and software development skills in Latin America since 2014. Mariana will be attending Mobile Learning Week – UNESCO’s yearly flagship ICT in education event – taking place from 26 – 30 March 2018 in Paris.

What inspired you to start Laboratoria?

We started Laboratoria when I moved back to Lima after living abroad for many years. Before venturing into this, my two co-founders and I actually started a web development agency. It was through that experience that we realized there was a lot of demand for software developers, but that there was a big shortage of talent in that particular area. There were also very few women in that sector so there was a huge gender gap. Even in our team, we had 10 developers and all of them were men. We were puzzled by this disparity in a field with so many job opportunities. In contrast to other sectors, the field of software development is quite flexible in terms of the requirements for qualifications. Many talented individuals working in web development did not necessarily have degrees in computer science from prestigious schools. Some did not even have a degree at all. It is one of those fields where you do not necessarily need an actual degree to find a good job. With all this in mind, we saw the opportunity to create a social enterprise that would train young women in this skill set, and especially women who have not been able to access higher education due to their financial situations.

How did it all come together?

We started Laboratoria as a pilot project and we wanted to keep it very lean and focused. We created a curricula, secured a loan and partnered with two non-profit organizations in two different parts of the city to select a group of students to launch the programme. Our goal was to validate the idea and prove that we could actually teach coding skills to women who had no previous contact with technology and help them build a better future. We learned a lot after the initial pilot. Many of the students performed really well and we hired some of them in our agency and we placed others into other companies. We also realized that there was a lot of interest from the hiring companies who were impressed by the talents and they started reaching out to us. After the pilot, we decided to refine the project and in 2015, we turn it into a full-time, six-month bootcamp training programme with nearly a thousand hours of training to build not only the technical skills of our students but also the soft skills that are needed in the professional world. It has been a long process of adjusting and improving our programme to better prepare our students to make them globally competitive software developers. We have also been working with the hiring companies to create a smooth transition for them after their training. The average income of our graduates has been multiplied by three. We started in Lima, and we have already expanded to Santiago (Chile), Mexico City, Guadalajara (Mexico) and we are now setting up in São Paulo (Brazil). We managed to prove that our model was strong in terms of social impact and that it can be scaled to change the lives of young women across Latin America. To date, more than 580 students have graduated from Laboratoria, and they have been hired by more than 200 companies across the industry.

What is the recipe for a successful social enterprise?

It has been years of very hard work! And there is still so much more to be done. The most important thing for us was the focus on learning. Learning as much as we could, following a methodology to continuously improve our work. We are very focused on gathering data to monitor exactly how the programme is performing and to keep improving it. That is what has enabled us to track and improve our work in such a short period: we have built a culture around learning and we try to attract people who share the same mindset to work at our company. And we want to make sure that we do that with excellence by forming the best junior developers who are competitive in the global job market.

How can the digital and gender divide be tackled?

The digital divide and the gender divide are two issues that are of critical importance. As the economy is shifting and becoming more automated, we are seeing the depletion of many low-skilled jobs. And that is usually where women are overrepresented. But in high-skilled professions, particularly those related to tech where there are many job opportunities, women are underrepresented. Unless we urgently do something to change that ratio, women are going to be left out. The private sector needs to know that diversity adds value, not because they need to check in a box, but because their products will be better by having people from different backgrounds and experiences: it will ultimately benefit the companies. Accountability is a key factor, particularly from education institutions. They must ensure that they are training people with the right skills that are needed and that are relevant to succeed in today’s and tomorrow’s economy. Properly analyzing job prospects is essential because a diploma on its own is not going to do anything. As for governments, they should be enablers of the private sector and of civil society by putting the right incentives to help initiatives that tackle these issues and encouraging companies to be more diverse for a better use of technology.

What is your advice to young women – and young people in general – in today’s hyper-connected economy?

We are living in an era of unprecedented opportunities because of Internet, connectivity and the immense access to information. The most valuable skill-set is to know how to learn by yourself. Be curious to go out and take responsibility for your own learning process. That is what we teach our students at Laboratoria as well. Education is being challenged in all sorts of ways because the future of work is still being defined. People need to take advantage of the opportunities of access to information in order to shape their own paths.


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