South Korea is best positioned to aid developing nations to keep up with the global transition toward mobile age with its 5G technology prowess and “leapfrogging” expertise in technological development, according to Makhtar Diop, vice president for infrastructure at World Bank.
“(Korea’s) strong push for technological advancements proved successful. Once one of the world’s poorest countries, Korea has become a technology and innovation powerhouse,” Diop said in an interview with Maeil Business Newspaper.
The senior banker at the international lender was in Korea in October to learn Korea’s 5G expertise and applications to the public services to help connectivity in developing nations.
This year, Korea became the world’s first country to deploy 5G network and in 2012, it outpaced the U.S in engineering degrees, said Diop who had toured Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom as well as research institutes.
Disruptive technology refers to any enhanced or completely new technology that significantly changes the way people live and businesses operate in an innovative sense.
For example, disruptive battery storage technology would bring “affordable and sustainable power” to “off-grid populations” or those not connected to current, major power networks.
Diop said disruptive technologies like blockchain and 5G mobile provide opportunities for the global economy to advance together in the era of the fourth industrial revolution and also reduce the gap between the poor and the rich. In Rwanda, drone technology has been adopted in the country’s health care system to deliver blood and blood and medical supplies to hospitals in remote regions. In Kenya, faster “financial inclusion” has become possible with a rise of mobile money. In Ethiopia, coffee label Moyee in collaboration with startup Bext360 built a blockchain-based coffee trading platform for all stakeholders in the supply chain can benefit from easier access to more transparent data.
While addressing the benefits of disruptive technologies, Diop warned “not embracing the promise and possibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution could leave developing countries further behind and worsen the digital divide between the have and the have nots with irreversible consequences.”
He also reminded of the “side effects” of disruptive technologies. The side effects do not stop at cyber attacks and invasion of privacy but they include increasing the risk of growing inequality in jobs from automation as well as environmental risks due to higher use of energy and materials.
“It is up to each country’s regulator, to take informed decisions on the operation of technology companies in their country, while keeping in mind the rights of citizens,” said Diop. “This is true for all technologies.”
And “Korea can play a key role by sharing its technology and expertise, both in the public and private sector, with developing countries,” he added.
By Kim In-oh and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]