In a recent meeting in Singapore, I had the chance to talk to a fellow CEO who attended the World Economic Forum back in January, and have taken some time to reflect on the things he shared with me. Sometimes it is good to put some distance between the excitement of the event and composing your thoughts. It was interesting to hear about what was discussed and what has actually borne out over the last few months, and which takeaways still hold up.
Throughout Davos people proclaimed that Europe would not look the same in six months. This was an accepted truth at the time, but as we can see Europe is still very much Europe. How change will play out in the region was overestimated in the near term but this just might be underestimated in the long term as well. We need to look at drivers for recovery rather than broad predictions. The future of the Eurozone remains one of the world’s greatest challenges and I suspect its future will be debated at the next Davos, and year-on-year for a long time to come.
Another idea that was shared was the idea that we are now living in the shadow of false prosperity. That may be true for developed markets, but emerging markets are feeling the knock-on impact while still looking to claim some real prosperity. I’d be happier talking about future prosperity across the board and how we can ensure that we don’t confuse immediate economic success with long-term gain.
I think that it is about building a foundation and investing when times are good, to take advantage of during a downturn. The world has a population of more than seven billion and how they interact and learn from one another is what will drive new ways of thinking and new opportunities, in both emerging and developed markets. The quality of economic growth will be central to this transformation, and for most economies this means the development of greater communications infrastructure.
Increased broadband penetration means more economic opportunity, and more economic opportunity means greater stability. The role of telecommunications in stimulating new growth will be vital as we look at creating a new, economically healthy future. The well-worn stat from the World Bank says a 10% increase in broadband household penetration delivers a boost to a country’s GDP that ranges from 0.1% to 1.4%. It will increase GDP but it also increases opportunity and collaboration. It is a foundation for recovery and to build on.
While at next year’s Davos, the future of Europe will certainly be debated, I also hope to hear discussion about the role of telecoms in transforming the global economy.