Digital transformation must be conducted in tandem with narrowing digital divide

To expedite the digital transformation process, it is necessary to identify the construction and promotion of the development of national digital platforms as a breakthrough solution.

'Digital Transformation' was the first thematic session of the 9th Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Young parliamentarians from across the world have shared their experiences in pushing digitalisation, with the digital divide in mind, as a way of attaining sustainable development.

They were speaking at the thematic session on 'Digital Transformation' held on Friday as part of the ongoing 9th Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians in Hà Nội.

Lưu Bá Mạc, a member of the Lạng Sơn Province delegation of Việt Nam's National Assembly, and also Chair of the Việt Nam's National Assembly Committee on Science, Technology, and Environment, noted that digitalisation is a necessary endeavour for all countries if they don't want to be left behind.

Mạc said that the ongoing digital transformation in various countries, at different levels, underscores the most crucial foundational element for this transformation: the need to perfect the legal framework and policies to promote digital transformation, ensure inclusivity and sustainable development, prioritise people, and encompass promoting digital infrastructure, digital ecosystems, and effective solutions that connect digital transformation with sustainable development.

To expedite the digital transformation process, it is necessary to identify the construction and promotion of the development of national digital platforms as a breakthrough solution. Digital platforms serve as the "soft infrastructure" of the digital space, addressing specific challenges of digital transformation and establishing and storing user data. The more users there are, the more data is available, the lower the costs, and the greater the value created, the Vietnamese deputy said.

The successful and effective implementation of the digital transformation process require raising awareness and digital skills among the population, especially in remote and rural areas. In the digital age, fundamental societal activities are being shifted to the digital realm. Many countries worldwide are focusing on developing policies for digital government, digital economy, and digital society. Widening access, enhancing awareness, and providing training in digital technology, digital services, and digital applications are aimed at optimising the benefits of digital tools for businesses and improving people's quality of life.

He also touched on the issue of national sovereignty on the Internet, saying: "In the real world, respecting national sovereignty is a fundamental principle recognised in the international legal system.

"However, due to the transboundary nature of cyberspace, ensuring national sovereignty in cyberspace is a new and complex issue that requires cooperation and coordination among countries in the region and the international community."

Providing her perspective on the issue, Yetunde Bakare, Senior Programme Manager, YIAGA Africa (based in Nigeria), noted that, according to 2023 statistics, there are currently 5.4 billion people worldwide, equivalent to 67 per cent of the global population, using the Internet, an increase of over 50 per cent compared to 2018.

It is noteworthy that there is a difference in internet access among different social classes and age groups and the question is how to narrow the digital development gap and digital capacity in the context of digital transformation, she said, adding that policies are needed to promote investment in digital skills for young generations and older generations to ensure inclusivity.

She suggested the need to promote public-private partnerships, relations with social organisations, and more to ensure comprehensive development, connectivity among different segments, a shared strategy, and all-encompassing support policy for digital inclusivity.

Emer Currie, a member of the Seanad Éireann (Republic of Ireland Upper House), also underscored the great attention that her country pays to digitalisation, saying that "digitalisation is at the heart of our enterprise policy."

Ireland is first in the EU's digital economy and society index, and the country supports enterprises, as well as small and micro businesses, she noted.

It also boasts a national broadband plan that brings fibre broadband to every home, community and business and has rolled out over 300 digital hubs in communities including rural communities in Ireland, in the hope of bringing employment and opportunities to those areas.

The Irish senator sees digitalisation as potentially a great equaliser and agent of change when it comes to climate change, but "we must have the social and community infrastructure to support the digital change, to ensure that that we close the digital divide and that everyone has access to digitisation because it is an enabler for equality," she said.

"We have to make sure that there is both the supply and the demand for digital jobs," she said.

“We have to ensure that the infrastructure in our community supports that digitalisation – like co-working hubs, broadband, public transport – which isn't just about bringing people to work in our cities, but supports people in their communities.

"We must continue with other social infrastructure like child care to ensure that women get opportunities.”

In Serbia, where digital transformation has gained momentum in the last few years, a series of public hearings on digitisation have been held with the aim to raise awareness on the importance of the topic both among parliamentarians and citizens, said Serbian National Assembly member Andrijana Avramov.

“The pandemic that spread across the globe has shown that technology can be an important and powerful tool," Andrijana said.

"In Serbia, this was used in such a way that all citizens of Serbia were provided with unhindered access to the most important services.”

Serbia has also opened a state data centre, which is connected to a supercomputer serving as the platform for artificial intelligence. The country is also operating a smart city platform that analyses and processes enormous amounts of data, Avramov added.

By “breaking the seal” to data, Serbia has seen significant growth in business entities and their activities.

Kai Liu, a member of the Chinese National People's Congress, said the country attaches great importance to the role of young people in digital transformation, enhancing them to seize the opportunities brought by digital innovations, by developing new technology and models, such as a shared economy of scale and mobile payment.

China has been making the biggest 5G network in the world, covering all prefecture-level cities and counties and urban areas in China, enabling it to narrow the digital divide. — VNS


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