The internet is creating new opportunities for individuals and businesses across the globe today. However, not everyone is benefiting equally. The economic gains or digital dividends associated with the internet often go to those with higher incomes, with the right set of skills or in the suitable enabling environment.
As a result, growing inequalities between and within countries may follow. As the new World Bank regional report Reaping Digital Dividends argues, this not need be the case. If the right set of policies are put in place, digital dividends have the potential to be the driving force of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region.
The report argues that the main challenge that ECA countries are facing is high aversion to the changes that new technologies may bring. Aversion to change manifests itself in the backlash that sharing economy platforms have suffered in the richer economies of the west, while in the east this aversion is manifested in the fear that more information could disrupt societies. While the report acknowledges that the internet – as most technological changes – may bring disruptions, its potential efficiency gains would overweigh those costs.