The digital gap uncovered by the pandemic

The pandemic surprised the world by imposing a new reality on people’s behavior, consumption patterns, the labor market, and the economy. It generated a series of new opportunities, but it uncovered the gap in access to the use of new technologies, between countries that have easy access to digital transformation and those that do not have the resources or tools to enter said “virtuality.”

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in June, brought together experts from around the world to examine how new technologies are working to improve everyday life, as the world slowly recovers from the Covid-19 crisis.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, stated that “the post-pandemic recovery offers the opportunity to focus on three key transitions that are strongly linked to science, technology, and innovation.
One: ensure an inclusive digital future.
Two: accelerate the development of renewable energy.
Three: transform the way we produce and consume food.”

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On the other hand, UNCTAD’s director of technology, Shamika Sirimanne, said that “the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to prioritize science and technology in political terms, resource allocation and international cooperation.”

Sirimanne argues that “it is vital that all countries have equal access to the benefits of life-saving medical treatments, not only for the pandemic but also for poverty-related diseases, future health emergencies, and infectious disease outbreaks.”

A large part of the business world confirmed that it could continue with its prolific activities, relying on electronic commerce through remote work and virtual meetings, a modality that will surely not disappear in the future, since in most cases good results have been obtained, saving money and time by physical displacements.

Thus, technology can allow developed countries to jump the previous paradigms through artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, or the internet, but: what will happen to those who do not have the same ease of access? There is a risk that the inequalities between “connected” and “disconnected” will accentuate the digital divide, uncovered by the pandemic.

In the post-pandemic context, the work will require the combination of key skills between entrepreneurs and prepared employees, when it comes to improving processes and promoting innovation since the pandemic is generating a new scenario that allows “agile organizations” to apply a different way of working and organizing, using technology as a strategic ally.

What is coming is very different from how we used to live before, because the post-pandemic world is not going to be the same. Recovery bears a global challenge that includes disconnected countries, ensuring that the digital divide, at least, does not widen.