Developing countries can leapfrog in tech development with innovative policies and standards

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a report on how new technologies open up opportunities for leapfrogging in developing countries. Leapfrogging is the concept of ‘bypassing intermediate stages of technology through which countries have historically passed during the development process’. However, it necessitates innovation policies to uphold the deployment of frontier technologies and their adaptation to meet their needs and promote sustainable development. The report notes that rapid technological advances and cost reductions in ICT have enabled some developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, to skip the development of landline infrastructure by moving directly to mobile telecommunications. According to the report, countries need strategic innovation policies, sound infrastructure and institutions, and appropriate technological standards to promote leapfrogging.