Thursday 22 August 2019

Multinationals make Ireland number one for global tech sales

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ireland exported a higher value of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services than any other nation, new data shows, highlighting the outsized impact of the tech sector to the economy here.

Last year Ireland exported over $71bn (€61bn) worth of ICT services, ahead even of India, its nearest competitor, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Those numbers are dominated by the output of a relative handful of US multinationals, whose non-US sales are typically channelled through Irish branches.

In fact, the report suggests that development of a domestic digital sector here is actually hampered by poor access to fibre and fixed broadband networks.

The report - entitled the 'OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017' - found that unequal access to digital opportunities and usage could hold back the potential of global digital economy.

While digital technologies continue to advance, with internet infrastructure improving and growth in the usage of digital tools, the report found that progress is uneven across countries, businesses, and within societies.

"We must empower our citizens and businesses for the digital world by providing everyone with affordable access to digital tools and the skills to use them fully," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, said at a meeting of the OECD Global Parliamentary Network in Paris last month.

In addition, the report found that government policy has not kept pace with digital innovation and the transformation of economies and societies led by big technology firms.

The OECD called on countries to up their efforts and encourage greater use of advanced technologies like big data analysis and cloud computing to make the digital shift more productive and inclusive.

Among the other findings was a relative lack of concern among Irish people about online privacy compared to the majority of our OECD counterparts. Just over half of individuals in Ireland expressed concerns about online activities being recorded to provide tailored advertising.

In comparison, in Germany this issue was a concern for 82pc of the population, while overall, an average of 60pc of the population in the EU are concerned about their online activities being recorded to provide tailored advertising. The publication called on governments of the OECD countries to work together to tackle the issue of digital security and privacy risks amid increasing concerns about data breaches and security incidents.

Access to the internet is growing, speeds are faster and prices are falling, yet mobile data usage - a key driver of the digital economy as people increasingly use mobile applications for messaging, transport, maps and video streaming services - is growing much faster in some countries than others, with Finland and Latvia in particular pulling far ahead of the pack.

Usage in Finland is 15 times higher than in the Slovak Republic, while Latvia, Austria, Sweden and Denmark also lie above the OECD average. Last year 83pc of adults in the OECD area had internet access, with three in four adults having daily access to the internet. These figures are much improved on 2005, when 56pc of adults in the OECD area had access to the internet, while just 30pc did so on a daily basis.

Irish Independent

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