Recovery and Resilience: the Commonwealth Digital Opportunity


During the Chair of the UK, Commonwealth Heads of Government have recently agreed to work to address COVID-19 and its impacts; build resilience, particularly for developing economies and the most vulnerable countries; and ensure no one is left behind. On 03rd  September, Commonwealth Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Gender and Development meet virtually for the first time as while early indications suggest the disease itself seems to be slightly less deadly for women, the broader economic and social impact on women looks to be much more severe.


In this digital connectivity is key. The Commonwealth is home to one in three people on the planet with 60% of its population under 30 years of age. Add to that the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ that enables member states to trade up to 20% more with each other than with non-members, at a 21% lower cost, on average with research showing that these countries invest up to 27% more within the Commonwealth than outside of it - almost tripling investment levels five years ago, which stood at 10%.


The session will open with keynote remarks from Honourable Thesele John Maseribane, Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Lesotho to provide an African perspective on the digital challenges and opportunities from COVID-19. It will be followed by key findings from a recently published landmark report from Commonwealth Governments on digitalisation in the Commonwealth. The study fills an important gap by providing new knowledge on the state of the digital economy in the Commonwealth, the challenges posed by digitalisation, and the opportunities available for Commonwealth members to harness the benefits of digitalisation for development and to boost intra-Commonwealth trade.


The session will then focus on the opportunities and challenges in the Commonwealth from Over-The-Top (OTT) applications in the digital value chain, from work commissioned by Commonwealth ICT Ministers and just produced by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation. What are the myths vs facts in the OTT debate? What are the imperatives and implications for policy especially in the approach to meetings of Commonwealth ICT Ministers and Heads of Government in 2021?


The session will close from a leading female internet entrepreneur in Kenya on her approach to Recovery and Resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dr. Martin Koyabe

Manager, Technical Support and Consultancy Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

Honourable Thesele John Maseribane

Minister of Communications, Science, and Technology Government of Lesotho

Arif Zaman

Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network

Dr Karishma Banga

Senior Research Officer Overseas Development Institute

Rose Maghas

Founder & CEO Rova Digital

Gisa Purcell

Acting Secretary General/Director, ICT Development Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)