Our quest for laying optical fiber along the 143,000 kilometers of Asian Highway dates back to 2011. The objective is to liberate Asia’s increasingly digitized cross-border economy from exclusive dependency of submarine cables. Blending the overland and undersea telecoms infrastructure to solidify the continent’s competitive edge has been central to our mission. Thankfully the ESCAP, which fosters Asian Highway, has listened to us. Now it leads the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) initiative.
AP-IS is more than merely a pan-Asian telecoms infrastructure. It is the digital corridor of transcontinental trade and commerce. And it is certainly not a futuristic theme but a historical gap to be bridged urgently. Countries without a failsafe and affordable cross-border telecommunication connectivity are at the risk of falling behind the economic long march of 21st century. Abundance of natural resources and manpower gets dwarfed by poor connectivity. This is what a recent study of McKinsey Global Institute elaborates.
Remarkably, digital flows—which were practically nonexistent just 15 years ago—now exert a larger impact on GDP growth than the centuries-old trade in goods, according to a new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, Digital globalization: The new era of global flows. And although this shift makes it possible for companies to reach international markets with less capital-intensive business models, it poses new risks and policy challenges as well.
The world is more connected than ever, but the nature of its connections has changed in a fundamental way. The amount of cross-border bandwidth that is used has grown 45 times larger since 2005. It is projected to increase by an additional nine times over the next five years as flows of information, searches, communication, video, transactions, and intracompany traffic continue to surge. In addition to transmitting valuable streams of information and ideas in their own right, data flows enable the movement of goods, services, finance, and people. Virtually every type of cross-border transaction now has a digital component.
Read the report: Digital globalization: The new era of global flows.