Where does Turkey stand in the digital revolution?
When Microsoft’s then-chairman Bill Gates visited Turkey in 2006, he said, “Turkey will experience the biggest digital revolution.”
Eight years have passed since Gates’ prophesy. Now, we must ask ourselves the question, “Has Turkey experienced its digital revolution?”
According to the Digital Turkey Platform formed in 2011, not only has it not made the revolution, but Turkey is in fact about to miss the digital train.
Unfortunately, the picture drawn by the Digital Turkey Platform is grim. According to several sources, our innovation capacity is mediocre. We are a technology importing country, rather than a technology exporting one.
For example, the volume of software services in the world is $70 billion. But Turkey’s contribution to this is only between 10 and 12 million Turkish Liras.
We are not a software producing country; we are software consuming one.
The informatics market, which has a volume of $160 billion, is estimated to reach up to $1 trillion within 10 years. But the way things are at the moment, it is difficult for Turkey to become a strong player in this market. According to the Digital Turkey Platform data, the share of Internet in the GNP is only around 0.09 percent. This rate is about 6.3 percent in Sweden.
There is a huge gap between Turkey and, in addition to Sweden, countries such as the U.S., South Korea, Japan and the U.K.
While the situation is this critical, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan still continues to make angry proclamations such as, “I am against the Internet more with every passing day.”
When the Digital Turkey Platform says, “These kinds of proclamations will have a heavy blow on our future,” they have a point. The price of such proclamations on the bureaucracy will be a heavy one.
As a matter of fact, head of Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV) Faruk Eczacıbaşı said escaping the “medium income trap” is only possible with informatics penetrating “the cells of the entire society,” including the public.
According to the Platform, there is one last opportunity for Turkey to catch the digital train: To harmonize with the European Digital Agenda.
Europe, which fell behind the U.S. in technology, has prioritized informatics as the locomotive of smart, sustainable and participatory growth and has thus formed a “digital agenda.”
Europe is prioritizing software, Turkey’s weakest point. To this end, the Digital Turkey Platform prepared a comprehensive report on how Turkey can harmonize with Europe.
Platform members said, “The European Digital Agenda is a socio-economic development plan. Turkey needs to join this development plan because our country has to be more competitive in the world; it has to focus on production and exports that have a higher added value. Every country in the world works to become more competitive.”
In short, what needs to be done for Turkey’s digital revolution to happen is in the report “European Digital Agenda and Turkey.”
This valuable report should be kept as a reference book, especially by state officials who focus on the 2023 targets.