Tech Megatrends: Unlocking Opportunities for Sustainable Development in the Global South
The Global South is poised to harness the potential of 17 frontier technologies, including artificial intelligence and electric vehicles, for sustainable and inclusive development. Leaders in the region, such as China and Saudi Arabia, are spearheading strategies and initiatives to ride the crest of these technological waves.
RIYADH: The Global South is navigating the tidal wave of tech megatrends, as 17 frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and electric vehicles present an extraordinary market potential, according to experts. Speaking at Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative forum, Shahad Attar, head of technology at the Public Investment Fund, and Guang Yang, vice-chairman at CTH Group and Atlas Technology, stressed that leaders in the Global South are marshaling strategies, initiatives, and mechanisms to ensure they ride the crest of these technological waves and unlock the transformative power of these trends for sustainable and inclusive development.
China: A Prominent Exemplar of Innovation
Yang stressed that China stands as a prominent exemplar of harnessing innovation for economic and social development. Over the past few decades, China has made significant investments in research and development, thereby catapulting itself to the forefront of technology adoption. Of the 17 technologies, Yang believes that underwater data solutions for crypto mining and e-waste recycling are some of the top technologies being developed today. He emphasized that with China’s gross domestic product almost as big as the Global South, global cooperation can allow nations to tap into their potential. China’s vigorous pursuit of domestic innovation has led to its ascendancy in industries such as AI and EVs. With a burgeoning domestic market and a focus on mass production, China is strategically positioned to capitalize on the potential of these megatrends.
Saudi Arabia: Vision 2030 and Technological Transformation
Saudi Arabia has also charted a vision for the future through its Vision 2030 plan. Recognizing the imperativeness of diversifying its economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenues, Saudi Arabia has set ambitious targets to invest in research, development, and innovation, stressed Attar. The plan envisions a thriving knowledge-based economy, with technology at its core. For instance, a SR776 million joint venture with SenseTime Group and PIF aims to establish SenseTime MEA, a sophisticated AI lab that will create highly skilled jobs for talented Saudis and position Saudi Arabia as the region’s leading AI-tech hub. Attar emphasized that such ventures are key drivers for the growth of the Kingdom.
Human Capital and Inclusive Development
Both Attar and Yang believe that human capital and a budding workforce will help overcome these challenges and stress the importance of recognizing the skilled forces within each nation. To ensure that the benefits of technological advancement are inclusive, governments are implementing policies that encourage equitable access and opportunities. Educational reforms are prioritized to equip the workforce with the skills needed in the digital age, while initiatives to bridge the digital divide are essential to reach marginalized populations.
In conclusion, the Global South is at the forefront of embracing tech megatrends and unlocking their potential for sustainable and inclusive development. Through strategies and initiatives, countries like China and Saudi Arabia are leading the way in harnessing innovation to drive economic and social progress. With a focus on human capital and inclusive policies, these nations aim to ensure that the benefits of technological advancement are accessible to all. As the world navigates the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the Global South is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable and inclusive future.