Digital Solution Export Opens Up New Opportunities for Cooperation with the Global South

Digital Solution Export Opens Up New Opportunities for Cooperation with the Global South

How the government and business can reorient exports of domestic IT products towards the Global South, what digital solutions transfer strategies should be defined, what countries are waiting for Russian ICT business - these and other topics were discussed on September 13 at the "Gateway to a Multipolar World: Countries of the Global South in the New Architecture of International IT Business" session organised by the Center for Global IT-Cooperation as part of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) taking place in Vladivostok.

Digital Solution Export Opens Up New Opportunities for Cooperation with the Global South

The discussion was attended by Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the Center for Global IT-Cooperation, Artem Mikhailov, CEO of e-legion, Stephanie Borja Regine Guevara (Philippines), producer of Asia TV, Milos Jovanovic (Serbia), President of OpenLink Group, Tandil Fikeni (South Africa), CEO of WIB Group, and Alexander Svinin, Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Indonesia. The session was moderated by Roman Chukov, Chairman of the Board of the Centre for International Promotion Foundation.

At the beginning of his speech, Vadim Glushchenko noted that a new multipolar world with a tendency towards deglobalisation is forming in front of our eyes, and the BRICS expansion is a clear example of this. That is why there is a growing need for digital sovereignty, especially in the countries of the Global South. In addition this year, the global IT market is forecast to reach $1.39bn. 

"The actions of the West have led the countries of the global majority to think about protecting their digital sovereignty, which is how the sustainable digital dialogue - a new model of pragmatic cooperation in the digital environment - came into being. What can Russia offer to the countries of the Global South? We are the holder of a unique commodity - digitalisation of public administration. Russia is among the top ten most advanced countries by this indicator. This can become a package product for export, as developing countries are home to a young, ambitious generation that has a demand for such technologies. Promising partners for us in this direction are Indonesia and South Africa," the Centre's Director added. However, according to Vadim Glushchenko, such ambitious plans require the creation of a "single operator" that will help Russian IT companies enter new markets, prepare incubation and acceleration programmes for Russian startups, be responsible for a single marketplace and interact with the digital attaché service. 

Alexander Svinin confirmed that Indonesia is one of the most promising areas for cooperation in the IT sphere. This country's GDP has been growing by more than 5 per cent every year for the last 10 years and there are no signs of recession. In addition, it is a market with a very young population. "The majority of people in Indonesia use the Internet every day, which is almost 230 million people, meaning the digital market is really huge. But you still need to analyse the market carefully before entering it," he concluded. 

Artem Mikhailov also spoke about in-depth study of the culture and economic situation of another country. He reminded that often the understanding of how an application or website should look and work differs, for example, between a Russian and a Chinese user, and this should be taken into account. "What is driving the Chinese market right now? The two main factors are the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and an aggressive macro environment. China is also under sanctions pressure, which is leading to an outflow of Western capital. The IT sector should focus on the 50+ audience, as this is now the fastest growing population group. And, of course, the Chinese have become tired of all online services - they now want to walk everywhere with their feet, including to the shops," he said. 

According to Tandil Fikeni, one of the areas for cooperation between Russia and African countries is cyber security. "Russia could help us with data encryption, because in this area we have reached unprecedented heights here. But South Africa's main problem at the moment is unemployment, which could increase due to digitalisation. We already have about 30 per cent, and what happens when automated systems become commonplace? Hence, the second area where we could collaborate is retraining people for more technological specialities and training staff for the digital economy. If this is not addressed, crime rates in South Africa will continue to rise," he said.

The centre of power is shifting from West to East, and there is no stopping it, Milos Jovanovic concluded in his speech. He believes that IT business can play a crucial role in this change: "Almost all technologies are usually rooted in military development, so we cannot talk about digitalisation without mentioning digital security. Friendly countries should receive assistance from countries like Russia in the field of creating their own information systems. And we should start, first of all, with infrastructure projects. After all, without infrastructure there will be no progress. And digital sovereignty is a key aspect of national security, because it is important for the state to know who controls the data of its citizens." 

We need to realise that the Global South is very different, each region has its own peculiarities that need to be taken into account, said Regine Guevara. This affects how the labour market works, what technologies are popular, what is lacking in IT and so on. In addition, we have to take into account that the effects of colonial policies are still being felt today - countries in the Global South have lost some cultural specificities, and economically they are still producers rather than consumers. Nevertheless, the new generation is able to overcome any barriers to cooperation and looks at the world more openly. 

The VIII Eastern Economic Forum is taking place on Russky Island (Vladivostok) on September 10 - 13. It is a major international platform for creating and strengthening economic ties, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. This year's motto of the event is "Towards Co-operation, Peace and Prosperity".

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