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Denmark at the digital forfront

Denmark has positioned itself pro-actively with the launch of the “TechPlomacy initiative” and the appointment of the world’s first tech ambassador based out of Silicon Valley but with a global team and mandate. As such, digitalization and technology is a strategic priority in Danish foreign- and development policy and an area where Denmark - based on our values, principles and experiences with a highly digitalised public sector - can help set the global foreign and development policy agenda in the coming years.

Digital technologies are proven enablers of development and strong drivers and accelerators for economic growth. Digitalization is also essential to achieve full implementation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. The exponential spread of digital technologies is already improving societies and people’s lives. The International Telecoms Union (ITU) estimates that seven billion people - 95 % of the global population - live in an area covered by mobile-cellular network, and global internet coverage is within reach within the next decade. At the same time, more than half of the world’s population is not using the internet, and nearly two billion people do not own a mobile phone. These numbers indicate that the potential for creating development through digitalization is massive, but also that digitalization causes new gaps between the “haves and have nots” and that new groups are left behind. In addition, digitalization disrupts the established way of doing things, including current labour markets by causing loss of traditional jobs.

Digital technologies are opening up new possibilities for increased accountability, transparency and citizen participation in policy-making and service provision. However, the technological development also presents new challenges. Digital services are introduced in areas where governments used to have monopoly, i.e. land rights registration, causing privatization of rights, which traditionally have been the responsibility of governments to protect. Without governance being an integral part of the technological development we risk that individual rights are being undermined.

The rapid technological development implies that it is crucial for Denmark to make digitalization and technological innovation a crosscutting priority in our development cooperation to remain a relevant and effective partner. We must be able to identify and harness the digital dividends and bridge the digital divide. We must also keep ourselves informed about the technological development and its implications in our partner countries and ensure a stronger foothold in the innovation hubs of the future. Not only will this strengthen Danish development cooperation. It will also open up new commercial and innovation opportunities to the benefit of both partner countries and Danish companies and institutions.