Digital Germany

Digital competence among Germans, 55 % Total
Gender, Women 51 %; Men 60%
Age, 14–29 Years, 72 %; 30-49 Years, 65 %; 50–64 Years, 54 %; 65+ Years, 35 %
Education, Low, 43 %; Medium, 51 %; Hight 64 %
Household income, Less than 2000 €, 45 %; 2000 to 3000 €, 52 %; 3000 to 4000 €, 58 %; More than 4000 €, 64 %
Employment status, Working, 62 %; Unemployed, 55 %; Retired, 37 %; Stay-at-home partner, 54 %; Student, 72 %
Digital competence among Germans, 55 % Total
Gender, Women 51 %; Men 60%
Age, 14–29 Years, 72 %; 30-49 Years, 65 %; 50–64 Years, 54 %; 65+ Years, 35 %
Education, Low, 43 %; Medium, 51 %; Hight 64 %
Household income, Less than 2000 €, 45 %; 2000 to 3000 €, 52 %; 3000 to 4000 €, 58 %; More than 4000 €, 64 %
Employment status, Working, 62 %; Unemployed, 55 %; Retired, 37 %; Stay-at-home partner, 54 %; Student, 72 %

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across many areas of society. At the same time, it has revealed that parts of the economy and public administration are sorely lagging behind in the adoption of digital technologies. The Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation and the SZ Institute have conducted a large-scale representative survey to find out how Germans see the state of digitalisation in their country.


Breaking the Chains?

Person in handcuffs with a broken chain

It is hard to think of a new technology that has simultaneously generated more enthusiasm and scepticism in recent years. Whether cryptocurrencies in the world of finance or NFTs in the art world, it seems that blockchain technology has prompted a digital gold rush. Yet it is far from clear whether its potential applications justify the craze or whether we are dealing with a speculative bubble. A study by the Center for Strategic & International Studies has now examined blockchain’s potential in the area of human rights: from voting and digital identity, to land rights management and supply chain transparency.


Social Media in Iran

Iranians have been living under an authoritarian regime for decades. The proliferation of the internet, and especially social media and messaging apps, has changed people’s lives in manifold ways. The Islamic Republic’s leadership faces unprecedented challenges to its attempts to control its citizens as a result of these changes. Even though neither the Green Movement of 2009 nor the protests of recent years have been able to bring down the regime, the government’s very efforts to censor the internet and social media prove their emancipatory potential. A recent study by the Atlantic Council examines both how Iranians use social media and how the clerical establishment restricts the use of the internet.


Freedom on the Net

Map of the world highlighting countries’ degree of internet freedom
Map of the world highlighting countries’ degree of internet freedom
Infographic on the percentage of internet users living in countries with different degrees of internet freedom

Faith in the internet as a global arena for the free exchange of ideas that would usher in a new democratic age has been displaced by a sense of disillusionment for some time now. Digital authoritarianism is on the rise around the globe and the increasing power of tech companies poses new challenges in democratic countries. Currently, we are witnessing the introduction of drastic restrictions on freedom of expression in Russia, both online and offline. However, last year already saw a decline in global internet freedom, according to the annual report of the Washington-based think tank Freedom House. The report “Freedom on the Net 2021” provides an overview of the state of internet freedom in 70 countries, home to about 88 per cent of the world’s internet users.


Imprisoned for a Post

A new digital security law came into force in Bangladesh on 1 October 2018. Restrictions on freedom of expression have increased since then in the country of 160 million inhabitants, the most densely populated of the world’s larger states. The law gives law enforcement agencies extensive powers and has become a tool for the government and its supporters to crack down on its critics. The mere sharing of a critical post on social media can now lead to arrest.

Two monitors with smileys facing each other on a long table

Diplomacy and Artificial Intelligence

Diplomacy and Artificial Intelligence

As the world has recently been reminded, the success of diplomatic negotiations can never be taken for granted. Trying to find answers to the question why diplomacy failed to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will without a doubt keep experts and policymakers occupied for quite some time. In light of the rapid developments in artificial intelligence, it is worth considering today whether AI could be a useful tool in the future for analysing the multitude of information diplomats are confronted with more quickly and reliably – and might thus ultimately lead to more successful diplomatic negotiations. A study by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs uses two case studies to explore the opportunities and limitations of the technology.


China’s Digital Yuan

A challenge to the dollar?

Coins jumping back and forth between the displays of two smartphones

Are digital currencies the future of money? Following the recent shake-up of the financial world by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, an increasing number of central banks are planning to introduce digital currencies. China has undoubtedly been at the forefront of this development among the world’s major economies. China has been experimenting with its digital yuan, also known as the e-CNY, in large-scale pilot projects in several cities and regions since 2019, most recently at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

China’s digital currency could enable it to establish a system of cross-border financial transactions that operates independently of the US dollar – making it possible, among other things, to circumvent economic sanctions such as those against Russia or Iran. A recent study published by Carnegie India examines the geopolitical consequences that China’s digital yuan could have for a global financial system so far dominated by the United States.


Internet Culture

Living in a digital society

Digitalisation is not only changing the material foundation on which our everyday lives rest, but it is also driving a profound cultural change. The March issue of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s magazine Die Politische Meinung sets out to explore this shift in society. As its title suggests, it is less concerned with technical aspects of the digital transformation, but rather with trying to understand the changing cultural environment. It includes articles on topics such as the culture of Silicon Valley, the consequences of digitalization for culture and the mind, the power of images in the public digital space, and an interview on recruiting, TikTok and Gen Z.


NFTs 2021 in Figures

  • 17.6 billion dollars Total value of all NFT transactions worldwide
  • 21,350 % Increase in total sales from 82.5 million dollars in 2020
  • 69 million dollars Price of an NFT work of art by the artist Beeple at Christie’s in March 2021
  • 5.4 billion dollars Total profit traders earned through buying and selling NFTs
  • 2 million Active digital wallets engaged in buying NFTs
  • 473 Number of digital wallets that generated at least 1 million dollars in profits
  • 8.47 billion dollars Sales in the most popular category of collectibles, followed by gaming (5.18 billion) and art (2.8 billion)
Zebras with barcodes as stripes

Digital ID systems in Africa

Evaluating ten countries’ policies

According to a World Bank estimate, 500 million people in Africa lack official identity documents. Without them, many African citizens are excluded from basic rights and public services, including access to healthcare and immunisation, being eligible for cash or aid relief, or being able to vote. That is why the provision of a legal identity for all is one of the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Efforts to improve national identification systems have coincided with the increasing deployment of mobile technology in Africa, just as elsewhere around the world. Digital IDs have become increasingly popular because of their relative ease, low cost and convenience compared to more analogue alternatives. However, their introduction carries risks, including the danger of exacerbating existing inequalities. In cooperation with local partners, two think tanks have jointly analysed and evaluated digital ID systems in ten countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Contributors to this issue:

Team KALUZA + SCHMID Studio, Bogdan Miftakhov, Johannes Sudau, Kristin Wesemann


(1) Stürz, Roland A., Christian Stumpf, Antonia Schlude and Hannes Putfarken. Das bidt-SZ-Digitalbaromenter. Bayrisches Forschungsinstitut für Digitale Transformation, January 2022.

(2) Crumpler, William. The Human Rights Risks and Opportunities in Blockchain. Center for Strategic & International Studies, December 2021.

(3) Dagres, Holly. Iranians on #Social Media. Atlantic Council, January 2022.

(4) Freedom on the Net 2021: The Global Drive to Control Big Tech. Freedom House, September 2021.

(5) Riaz, Ali. “How Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act Is Creating a Culture of Fear”. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 9. December 2021.

No Space for Dissent: Bangladesh’s Crackdown on Freedom of Expression Online. Amnesty International, July 2021.

(6) Stanzel, Volker and Daniel Voelsen. “Diplomatie und Künstliche Intelligenz. Überlegungen zur praktischen Hilfestellung für diplomatische Verhandlungen”. SWP-Studie 18, October 2021.

(7) Bansal, Rajesh and Somya Singh. China’s Digital Yuan: An Alternative to the Dollar-Dominated Financial System. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 2021.

(8) Netzkultur – Leben in der digitalisierten Gesellschaft. Die Politische Meinung 573, 25 March 2022.

(9) Quiroz-Gutierrez, Marco. “Bored Apes and CryptoPunks help jolt NFT market to over 21,000% growth and $17.6 billion in sales last year”. Fortune, 10 March 2022.

(10) van der Spuy, Anri, Vrinda Bhandari, Shruti Trikanad and Yesha Tshering Paul. Towards the Evaluation of Socio-Digital ID Ecosystems in Africa: Comparative Analysis of findings from ten country case studies. Research ICT Africa und Centre for Internet & Society, November 2021.