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Five ways digitalization can help build global resilience in 2023

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Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, explains five ways digitalization can help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges in 2023.

President & CEO of Ericsson

President & CEO of Ericsson

President & CEO of Ericsson

Ericsson was founded on the premise that communication is a basic human need. Yet, today’s biggest inequality may be between the connected and unconnected.

While we need to harness the power of digitalization to face a series of fundamental challenges – economic slowdowns, energy crises and a changing climate – connectivity is a foundation for digitalization, as are the skills to use digital tools.

Around the world, mobile networks play a crucial role in providing connectivity, with more than 6 billion subscribers on mobile networks today – more than the number of toothbrushes.

Let’s look at five areas in which digitalization can encourage the resilience we’ll need in 2023.

1. Improved networks and coverage

Connectivity is a cornerstone for national resilience. The emergency services, health care and education, are a testament to that.

If the COVID-19 pandemic had happened in 2000, only 6.7% of the world would have had internet access. Can you imagine the absolute standstill our society and economy would have encountered without remote working and education?

With 5G and other modern networks, wireless connectivity can finally be the primary choice of access to technology. The long-range, high bandwidth and low latency of 5G can connect even the most remote regions with cutting-edge opportunities.

2. Economic value unlocked

Just as electrification transformed the 20th century, digitalization will reform the 21st century. Research shows that digital transformation could enable USD 100 trillion of additional value for the world economy by 2025.

A new Ericsson-commissioned study from consulting firm Analysis Mason highlights the potential economic, consumer and environmental benefits of 5G connectivity. The study focused on 15 national emerging markets and showed that 5G rollout would generate overall economic benefits, i.e. an increase in global domestic product, three-to-seven times higher than the incremental cost of extending coverage.

3. Enterprise productivity

How can an enterprise thrive in the face of rising energy prices, uncertain supply chains and natural disasters?

A new Ericsson IndustryLab report on enterprises rethinking resilience found that 90 percent of companies with a well-defined resilience strategy invest in digitalization and automation. That’s 50 percent higher than those without a strategy.

4. Solutions to boost climate action

Digital transformation is a key tool to address climate change. Ericsson’s research has found that ICT solutions can help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent by 2030 while responsible for only 1.4% of the global carbon footprint. That reduction can go even further with emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

The 5G network, with its ultra-low latency and high speed, stands out as it can potentially digitalize industries at scale – a topic explored in depth in the MIT Technology Review Insights white paper.

5. Bridging the digital divide

About 2.7 billion people still lack access to the internet. It’s not for lack of coverage; in fact, more than a third of the world’s population remains offline despite 95 percent living within range of some form of connectivity. Instead, affordability and lack of digital skills are major barriers.

At Ericsson, we have been particularly active in connecting schools and building digital skills to ensure that young people can participate in the 21st-century economy.

Another important area is financial inclusion. Nearly a quarter of the world’s adult population lacks access to formal banking and financial services, according to the World Bank Findex 2021 database. A majority of these unbanked people do, however, own a mobile phone.

Mobile financial services offer the possibility to bring millions into the formal economy. For example, the Ericsson Mobile Financial Services (MFS) platform currently has over 360 million active wallets in more than 15 countries, boosting individual livelihoods and transforming economies.

Connectivity evolution

We are in the middle of a paradigm shift in connectivity.

You can see this change clearly with 5G, scaling faster than any previous mobile generation. According to our latest Ericsson Mobility Report, global 5G subscriptions will have topped 1 billion by the end of 2022 and 5 billion by the end of 2028, despite global economic challenges.

Digital transformation is a global engine to build dynamic, sustainable, innovative economies that deliver inclusive growth. But success will require a collective effort.

While 2023 presents stark challenges, I’m confident we’re up to creating a sustainable and resilient society for all.

This article was originally published by the World Economic Forum ahead of WEF 2023.

Explore more

Read the Analysys Mason report in full: Future value of mobile in emerging markets.

Read the Ericsson IndustryLab report: Time to rethink resilience.

Read Börje’s reflections on Ericsson’s vision for 2023, and his letter to leaders at last year’s G20 event about the need to drive universal connectivity and extend digital to the world’s SMEs.

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