COVID-19 Economy: The digital divide essential for global recovery

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Dave Deruytter looks at a puzzling discrepancy – the digital divide in the post COVID-19 economy.

Bridging the digital divide is essential for a full global recovery of the economy. In these COVID-19 times, economists essentially have their eye on the extra digital acceleration it is bringing to business and how it even may give the green or sustainable development drive a much-needed extra impetus through partial localization and less use of the car. That is sound reasoning, at least for the digitally competent and active people around the globe.

And it should be true for the digital ‘laggards’ too, but for that to really happen a lot of things have to fall in place. On the one hand, there are the financially (or intellectually) poor who currently far too often fall out of the digital speedboat. On the other hand, there are the elderly who have trouble in catching up with the current speed of digital development. Helping the financially poor can even partially solve the refugee crisis by allowing would-be refugees to stay in their home country and remotely participate in the economies of developed countries around the world while getting paid for it.

As such, allowing them not only to stay in their own country means they can also contribute to the local economy there. Vice versa, teachers or trainers from the developed world can teach remotely the people in the refugee source countries, making sure that the local level of education increases substantially. Of course, for all of that to happen, in order to bridge the digital divide, money and people are needed.

Why not start by using a substantial part of the development aid, which developed countries give to developing countries anyway, to realize that goal? Furthermore at EU level, projects or funding should be provided. To start with, the EU can reach out to the many overseas territories and former colonies of its member states to help them.