Ireland exported a higher value of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services than any other nation last year, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report - entitled the 'OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017' - found that Ireland, which benefits from the presence of a high concentration of transnational corporations relative to the size of its domestic market, exported over $71bn worth of ICT services, ahead even of India, its nearest competitor with $55bn.
While digital technologies continue to advance, with internet infrastructure improving and growth in the usage of digital tools, the report also found that progress is uneven across countries, businesses, and within societies.
“The digital transformation is not happening at the same pace across countries, companies and households, and this translates into unequal opportunities,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “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.”
As well as revealing digital inequalities, the report recommends governments review labour laws, trade agreements and other legislation to take account of job displacement, the emergence of new forms of work and the evolving trade landscape. It calls on governments to also work together to tackle digital security and privacy risks amid increasing concerns about data breaches and security incidents that risk weighing on uptake of digital services.
In addition, the report found that access to the Internet is growing, average speeds are faster and prices are falling. However, the average share of fibre in fixed broadband networks across the OECD area is still low at 21%, with shares ranging from 2% or less in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Ireland and Israel to 74% in Korea and 75% in Japan.
Among the other findings was a relative lack of concern among Irish people about online privacy compared to the majority of OECD counterparts. Just over half of individuals in Ireland expressed concerns about online activities being recorded to provide tailored advertising.
Over 2010-16, the value of OECD export of ICT services increased by 40%. Ireland is the leading exporter of ICT services (over 14% of global services), followed by India (11%) and the Netherlands and the United States (both with 8%). China is also among the top ten exporters of ICT services, along with France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.