LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 SERIES – DIGITAL SOCIETIES, BANGKOK: Every country aspires to become a digital society, but the road to get there can be very long and challenging for those lacking in resources and economic power, warned Rajnesh Singh, bureau chief for APAC at the Internet Society.

Singh (pictured, third from left) noted that within Asia there is great diversity in terms of the size of countries, economic capacity and how much investment can be made on infrastructure.

Beyond those factors, there are some basic issues which pop up when you try to move to a digital economy, he said. For example, the notion of what a digital society is in Singapore is very different than what it would be in Laos.

One of his concerns is countries which are moving down the digital path are accelerating their progress, but for those which are not quite there yet the gap seems too large to bridge.

Singh pondered what the world will look like in ten years and fears some countries won’t be able to cope with the rate of economic and technical change, which will cause the gap to widen.

“We have to recognise the realities. Some countries don’t even have the capacity to set up an independent regulator of the resources, to staff their ministries or regulatory units,” he said.

Affordability is also still a major issue in many countries, and Singh suggested operators and content providers can do more: “It’s a not a level playing field across the region when it comes to what a digital society is and what connectivity looks like in, say, Nepal,” he noted.