Digital technologies are spreading: the growing impacts of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and block chain technology are providing impetus to a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Intense competition in the digital technology space has boosted the adoption of automation, robotics and advanced forms of IT applications across virtually all sectors.

In order to seize the benefits, developing and emerging countries must bridge existing technological and institutional gaps, and equip their workforce with the necessary skills. In that context, the International Economic Forum on Asia 2021 explored the many opportunities and challenges facing the various sectors in Asian economies, with a special focus on health.

  • Are new digital technologies principally owned by actors in advanced economies, and could this render developing countries and small economies dependent on existing forms of technology transfer?
  • As a uniform technology ladder is unlikely to be achieved by all developing countries, given their resources and skill bases, what type of technology regime should be envisaged? In particular, how should financial resources be allocated and relevant public policy be designed, and what role should the private sector play? Can digital technologies change the nature of industrial production and revive the stagnant manufacturing sectors in the post-pandemic period?
  • How can institutions of higher learning in developing countries evolve to prepare graduates to work with advancing technologies?
  • How can SMEs benefit?
  • Are existing skilling mechanisms relevant and effective? What are the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis? What are the different pathways to industrialisation and employment for countries at different stages of development?

The Forum took place on Friday, 5th March 2021

Co-organised by: