Countries with advanced digital skills, safety nets doing better in pandemic: WEF


An employee of tech start-up Sendy, which offers online logistics services, works on her computer ...
An employee of tech start-up Sendy, which offers online logistics services, works on her computer at their office in Nairobi, Kenya Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

In Summary

  • World Economic Forum report says countries with advanced digital skills are more successful at keeping their economies running during the pandemic.
  • Report cites the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Estonia and the United States as countries that have performed well on this measure.
  •   Authors of the report find countries with strong social safety nets and robust health care systems also have managed to withstand the worst effects of the pandemic.

In this year’s Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum measures the ability of countries to weather and recover from the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also Read: Digital skills training is the future of work in Kenya

Because of the pandemic and the inability to collect necessary data, country rankings in the report have been suspended.

Instead, it examines the factors that help economies better manage and recover from the pandemic.

The report notes the deep economic recession triggered by the infection continues to have profound economic and social consequences.

While no country has emerged unscathed, some are more resilient than others.

World Economic Forum Managing Director Saadia Zahidi says countries with advanced digital skills have been more successful at keeping their economies running during the pandemic.

“Countries that have a greater level of digitization across their economies and that have been able to switch relatively rapidly to remote work, those happen to be the countries that fared slightly better and in particular their populations, because of being able to maintain their jobs, fared slightly better,” Zahidi said.

The report cites the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Estonia and the United States as countries that have performed well on this measure.

Authors of the report find countries with strong social safety nets and robust health care systems also have managed to withstand the worst effects of the pandemic.

Also Read: Why Albert Otieno and Beatrice Mbendo now depend on social protection

Zahidi says a number of international institutions advise governments to use stimulus packages to support their economies and workers during this difficult period.

At the same time, she says governments should start moving to a slightly more dynamic phase in preparing for the post-pandemic period.

“That does not mean that governments will not need to continue to do some investment, continue to provide some support,” Zahidi said.

“It may not be short-term furlough schemes, but it may instead be longer term support for safety nets that allow workers to move out of their current roles to get some income support, to be able to retrain, to reskill and then move on to another future role.”

Zahidi says recovery from the coronavirus for lower income or highly indebted countries will be more difficult than for the advanced economies.

She says an international collaboration agreement is needed to support these countries in the short term so they can move forward.

She adds they will need support from the international community for some time to recover from the ruinous impact upon their economies by COVID-19, the illness triggered by the coronavirus.

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