Digital technologies can help Maldives to bring about a more green, resilient, and inclusive development following the COVID-19 pandemic, says the latest World Bank Maldives Development Update released today.
The Maldives Development Update (MDU) highlighted the country is on the road to recovery, due to successful marketing campaigns and eased travel restrictions, after an economic standstill between March and July 2020. During this period, tourist arrivals were 70% lower which resulted in real GDP contracting by nearly 30% compared to 2019. However, the MDU states the country received more than 300,000 tourists in the first quarter of 2021 and expects real GDP to increase by around 17% in 2021.
World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Faris H. Hadad-Zervos praised the government saying, “The Government of Maldives has shown the world that a safe reopening to tourism is possible.”
“With active management of the current macro-fiscal situation, Maldives’ medium-term growth prospects can continue to be positive given its strong reputation as a luxury destination and ongoing investments in tourist infrastructure”, he added.
Furthermore, the Update states the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation in the country due to high broadband and mobile internet coverage. It also sheds light on how digital technologies can be game-changers for the growth and development of the country and the potential use to improve services such as health, education, and disaster risk management in outer atolls. Maldives recorded a higher proportion of Internet users compared to other South Asian countries, around 63% of the population used the Internet in 2019.
The MDU further states that the country needs to address policy, legal, and regulatory gaps that currently inhibit the adoption of digital technologies and ensure that all Maldivians can benefit from new technologies by boosting their digital capabilities and skills.
The lead author of the special focus section Junko Narimatsu said, “Wider use of digital technologies can help the government improve service delivery and allow smaller businesses and informal workers to expand access to markets.”
“However, for digital development to play a more prominent role in Maldives’ economic recovery, it is essential to close the digital divide between Male’ and the atolls.”