ADB pushes tech-based growth
Economies in Southeast Asia would be poised for a quicker economic bounce back from the COVID-19-induced recession if they will jack up investments in digital infrastructure to adapt to the new normal wrought by the pandemic, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday.
“We must close the digital divide and expand existing investments in digital infrastructure by building more and higher quality mobile broadband infrastructure and ensuring affordable internet access and coverage. These steps can also enhance access to basic social services such as health and education and access to financial services,” ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa told participants of the Manila-based multilateral lender’s maiden Southeast Asia Development Symposium.
Asakawa added that ramping up technology investments would better equip countries to address the worsening income inequality and disparities in opportunities brought about by the pandemic.
Specifically, Asakawa urged Southeast Asian countries to “address regional disparities and ensure more equitable access to technology, including an expansion of investments in digital infrastructure to close the ‘digital divide,’ while addressing cybersecurity.”
Asakawa also enjoined “green” recovery through low-carbon investments.
Asakawa likewise urged smoother cross-border digital connectivity, e-customs systems as well as electronic cargo tracking systems across the region.
Asakawa enjoined countries to “incubate, develop and congregate small- and medium-sized enterprises with entrepreneurship and technology, supported by an aggregated financial, academic and business ecosystem to help set the stage for tech-based growth.”
Asakawa nonetheless urged improving domestic revenue generation to finance new digital and technology investments while keeping debt levels sustainable.
“We are seeing the tremendous role that digital technology can play in securing new solutions to the challenges facing communities and businesses during the pandemic and beyond,” Asakawa said.
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