This article was developed as a background paper for a presentation to delegates from developing countries at the South Centre, Geneva, in February 2017. It presents the key geo-economic elements of the digital phenomenon; how data is the new raw material that is extracted from developing countries by a few, primarily US based, corporates from the Global North, which is then ‘manufactured’ into ‘digital intelligence’. This digital intelligence is then employed to control various sectors like – urban transportation, health, education, agriculture, information access- across the globe.
Developing countries have not understood these deep social-structural implications of the digital phenomenon. Consequently, their global diplomacy in this area is conducted through narrow lenses of IT industry or ICTs for development. Developing countries need to develop competencies and skills in this area, and shape new geopolitical strategies based on them.