Data and the digital economy – the key to inclusive and sustainable digital development?

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The Pacific Data Hub’s latest Community of Practice talanoa, held in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) concentrated on the role of data in today’s digital economy.

95 participants from Pacific Island Governments, Civil Society, Private Sector, Financial Institutions, Regional and International Organisations participated in the Talanoa which explored the challenges and opportunities in enabling greater access to data to support e-commerce initiatives and drive the development of the digital economy in the Pacific.

UNCTAD’s Head of E-Commerce and Digital Economy, Mr Torbjorn Fredriksson opened the talanoa, sharing his reflections on the importance of data and digital capacity for Pacific Island Countries and Territories.   

“Across the Pacific region people and businesses are increasingly shifting to digital tools to communicate, expand into new markets, develop new services, export and pay for goods and services. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift while also highlighted the significant gaps that exist in digital readiness in some countries”, said Mr Frekriksson adding that the pandemic has showed digital data as a vital economic and strategic resource for both countries and businesses and that data gathering, data analysis and data sharing have been critical to understanding the health and social challenges during the pandemic.

The current low level of digital readiness in some parts of the Pacific means some countries are not able to tap into the benefits of this shift but as Mr Fredrikkson pointed out, the region has a high potential for growth and improvement. From building connectivity, and digital payment infrastructure. to developing local digital skills and content, there is wide scope for action and policies that can lead to inclusive and sustainable digital development.

Held in partnership with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) the talanoa featured speakers from the Pacific Community, UNCTAD, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Statistics NZ and the Bikhabai Group, a recording of the talanoa is available here.

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