UNCTAD: Digital revolution raised hopes of LDCs leapfrogging but LDCs firms severely disadvantaged

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released he Least Developed Countries Report 2020: Productive Capacities for the New Decade which contests that the progress and optimisation of least developed countries’ (LDCs) productive capacities hinges on upgrading LDCs’ economic structure and bridging their development gaps vis-à-vis other countries. While LDCs with the most developed productive capacities have managed to avoid the fallout from the pandemic, efforts to rebuild the economies of the world’s poorest nations post-pandemic will decline significantly unless their productive capacities are considerably increased. The report, which has a dedicated section to ‘digital revolution for productive capacities,’ found that in LDCs, the uptake of advanced technologies is still emerging and hampered by infrastructure gaps and skills shortages. In this vein, for LDCs to tap into the digital revolution, they need to adopt industrial policies that buttress and further develop technological capabilities of producers in all sectors. Also, policymakers should transform predictions on the positive impacts of frontier technologies for LDCs into problem-solving strategies to promote firm-level innovation.