IGF 2020 WS #259 Building Inclusive Digital Economies in Emerging Markets

Time
Monday, 16th November, 2020 (10:10 UTC) - Monday, 16th November, 2020 (11:10 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
This participatory workshop will explore how diverse actors are reimagining and rebuilding their local communities and how the global community can help ensure inclusive, digitally enabled economic growth in the post-COVID-19 era, with an emphasis on expanding digital inclusion across emerging markets. The session will also highlight how the IGF community can help address policy barriers that impede a resilient and inclusive digital economy.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Morgan Frost, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
Organizer 2: Anna Kompanek, Center for International Private Enterprise
Organizer 3: Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA

Speaker 1: Rainer Heufers, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Mary Rose Ofianga, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Juliet Nanfuka, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Nicole Primmer, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

In addition to Rainer Heufers, Juliet Nanfuka, and Mary Rose Ofianga, this session will also be joined by Nicole Primmer, Senior Policy Director at Business at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  

Moderator

Anna Kompanek, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Ashnah Kalemera, Civil Society, African Group

Rapporteur

Morgan Frost, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

• What policy barriers exposed by the COVID-19 crisis are entrepreneurs, particularly women, and small businesses urgently facing in emerging markets to participate in the digital economy?

• How can resources be mobilized to expand digital skills among local business communities operating in emerging markets?

• At a local or regional level, what are successful examples of diverse stakeholders working together to identify key priorities to facilitate inclusion in digital commerce?

• At a global level, how can local businesses communities, civil society, government, and multilateral institutions work together to develop a common framework that builds an enabling environment for inclusive digital economies?

This workshop will explore how diverse stakeholders are participating in and contributing to creating opportunities for inclusive growth online, especially local businesses from the Global South. The session will also highlight how the IGF community can help address policy barriers at the local, regional, and international levels that impede a resilient and inclusive digital economy.

SDGs

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Description:

Over the past few decades, the rapid adoption of digital technologies has transformed how people engage with one another socially, politically, and economically. This transition is particularly notable in times of crisis that restricts personal movement, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, when internet connectivity and the digital ecosystem around it becomes indispensable for access to information, communication, and ability to work remotely and conduct e-commerce. The pandemic underscored the gaps in the digital divide, both globally and within countries, particularly felt by local businesses in emerging markets. Entrepreneurs traditionally engaged in the informal economy, especially women and small businesses throughout the Global South, continue to face numerous barriers in utilizing online marketplaces to maintain and expand their operations. Barriers such as accessibility and affordability of the internet, insufficient resources and tools to upskill businesses, and the inadequate national-level digital policies and frameworks that facilitate competitiveness and access to global markets continue to undermine the shared United Nations goal to leave no one behind by 2030. Business resiliency and new opportunities to engage in digital commerce are paramount to building an inclusive economy. To realize an equitable post-COVID-19 recovery, the global community must build consensus around key priorities impacting the development of more inclusive digital economies. This requires coordinated multi-stakeholder efforts that provide opportunities to share locally-sourced priorities and solutions, establish new partnerships with common goals, and ensure diverse participation in policy development and implementation. Such efforts should include local business communities, women, and marginalized groups that are often excluded in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and livelihoods. This participatory workshop will explore how diverse actors are reimagining and rebuilding their local communities and how the global community can help ensure inclusive, digitally enabled economic growth in the post-COVID-19 era, with an emphasis on expanding digital inclusion across emerging markets. While the session speakers will provide key insights on resiliency and how to build inclusive frameworks, the core of the discussion will be dedicated to highlighting perspectives from the broader IGF community through online participation. 

Expected Outcomes

With insights and experiences from diverse speakers, this session will explore the barriers that local business communities are facing to reopen post-crisis and transition to the digital economy, and how different stakeholders can work together in addressing these economic and policy challenges. Furthermore, the convener of this session, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), intends to highlight key recommendations identified in this participatory session with its global partner network engaged in public-private policy dialogues and advocacy focused on building enabling environments for inclusive prosperity in a technology-reliant future.

While the speakers will provide perspectives on the key topics outlined, the moderator of the session will also encourage additional insights and questions from IGF participants attending the online session.

Relevance to Internet Governance: While there is no complete global consensus on how to advance digital economies around the world, multi-stakeholder processes that harmonize priorities, rules, and best practices are key to ensuring the inclusion of diverse economic actors. The shaping of frameworks and norms that facilitate and sustain digital inclusion, particularly across emerging markets, also requires the participation of diverse stakeholders in internet governance policy fora at the national, regional, and global levels.

Relevance to Theme: For digital transformation to be meaningful, concerted efforts must be made to ensure sustainable development and inclusive economic growth. Ensuring that everyone has the necessary access and digital skills to participate in the digital economy is essential for digital inclusion. A successful digital economy is underpinned by laws, policies, and regulations that democratizes economic growth and inclusive e-trade. Therefore, the development and implementation of national legislation focused on the digital economy should take into account key priorities voiced by diverse stakeholder groups. At the same time, internet governance policy fora that build consensus on how digital policy frameworks should be shaped must include diverse perspectives, including representatives from emerging markets, to ensure that everyone has the ability to participate.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: The session organizers intend to use Twitter as a key platform to promote the discussion and encourage additional perspectives from the international community.

 

Agenda

1. Brief Introduction to the Discussion - 4 minutes

2. Introduction of Speakers - 2 minutes

3. Discussion among Speakers - 20 minutes

4. Questions and Inputs from IGF participants - 30 minutes

5. Wrap Up - 4 minutes

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
How are entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly across the Global South, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how digital economy can support their survival and recovery?
What policy barriers to participation in the digital economy, exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, are entrepreneurs urgently facing?
At a local or international level, how can local businesses communities, civil society, government, and multilateral institutions work together to develop a common policy frameworks and other approaches for inclusive digital economies?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

This session identified key barriers that businesses are facing when reopening during the COVID-19 crisis and transitioning to the digital economy. For instance, entrepreneurs and small businesses across emerging markets are struggling to participate in the digital economy due to existing challenges of accessibility and affordability of the internet as well as a lack of digital skills. At the same time, inadequate or absent policies and regulatory frameworks that facilitate competitiveness and access to global markets continue to undermine the development of an inclusive digital economy. To address these challenges, multi-stakeholder dialogues on digital transformation at the local, regional, and international levels must be a key priority to ensure inclusive digitally-enabled economic growth in the post-COVID-19 era.

3. Key Takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of building enabling environments for inclusive prosperity in a technology-reliant future. Moreover, there is a broad consensus that multi-stakeholder coordination underpins the development of a digital space that advances democratic values and economic inclusion. Stakeholder groups such as civil society, international organizations, the technical community, companies, and governments should work together to support initiatives that improve digital and financial skills among local business communities. Diverse actors should also actively participate in policy fora focused on the development and implementation of legislation and frameworks that impact the digital economy.

6. Final Speakers

Moderator: Anna Kompanek, Center for International Private Enterprise

Online Moderator: Morgan Frost, Center for International Private Enterprise

Speaker 1: Rainer Heufers, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Mary Rose Ofianga, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Juliet Nanfuka, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Nicole Primmer, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

The session explored specific barriers that women are facing when seeking to participate in the digital economy. Overall, the pandemic aggravated pre-existing gaps of the digital divide, which disproportionately affect women. The speakers agreed that since the COVID-19 pandemic, women are becoming more entrepreneurial as they transition businesses online. Yet, many women entrepreneurs still lack the digital and financial skills needed to participate fully in the digital economy. In addition, inadequate or misguided legislation on the digital economy undermines the advancement of gender inclusion in the digital space. 

9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #259 Building Inclusive Digital Economies in Emerging Markets
10. Voluntary Commitment

During the session, panelists made voluntary commitments to continue contributing to multi-stakeholder conversations focused on building inclusive digital economies. For instance, Rainer Heufers stated that the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) will continue to look at issues impacting the digital economy and actively participate in policy dialogues focused on digital transformation in Indonesia. Likewise, Juliet Nanfuka from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) said that her organization will continue to encourage diverse stakeholders to participate in policy fora impacting the digital space. The recent passing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), provides unique opportunities for diverse stakeholders to advance dialogue across Africa on how to shape and govern the digital economy in a way that promotes greater regional cohesion, development, and competitiveness. Mary Rose Ofianga Rontal mentioned that she will continue to equip local entrepreneurs in the Philippines, many of whom are women, with digital skills needed to make the digital economy inclusive. Finally, Nicole Primmer highlighted that the Business at Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will continue to develop research, tools, and best practices on the digital economy that are applicable around the world as governments and other stakeholders continue to explore policy options.