The industry representatives, government officials, and other participants in Barcelona are all convinced of the importance of the internet and mobile to improve the lives and prospects of people around the world. But many outside our technophile world do not share this view. They do not see how phone or internet connections relate to poverty reduction.
In developing countries, the typical challenge is not to convince the Minister of ICT, but rather the Ministers of Economy and Finance and the development partners of the importance of a technology strategy. Few international financial institutions or donor agencies focus their resources on the digital economy or ICT. Over the last ten years official development assistance from OECD members (ODA) to the communication technologies sector has hovered around a low 0.5% of total ODA.
A widely held view is that the private sector can take care of financing needs. Yet, the ITU has estimated the bill to bring the entire world online by the year 2020 at around US$500 billion. And the private sector is unable, or unwilling, to provide, unassisted, these huge sums of investment.
In many developing countries, especially small countries, landlocked and fragile states, as well as rural areas, the private sector views financial and operating risks as too high, in particular in view of market size. In these frontier markets, the private sector will only take the lead in expanding connectivity if governments establishes a conducive investment climate and offers risk sharing, investment sharing and other innovative business models. One such business model is the guaranteed prepurchase by government of connectivity capacity to meet the future needs of public services, including as local government, citizen outreach, school, health and agricultural extension services.
A new assessment of energy use in Nairobi and Accra shows that measuring and sharing data would improve life for people in both capitals by increasing energy access and efficiency.
The key is access to information. Releasing energy information such as data on power networks, energy usage and on the potential to switch to renewables could mean more efficient development and improved services for consumers. Access to data could bring many positive changes. It could speed up private sector and civil society engagements in the energy sector. For example, wind power companies could benefit from digital power network and wind resource data to find new markets. Or NGOs providing solar lamps for students could better target their operations by getting access to maps of off-grid communities and schools.
When I started working on energy access and biomass in Mozambique in 2007, the concept of “open data” wasn’t even on my radar. But the practical implications of not having that information was an everyday frustration. My colleagues in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energies and I would spent days searching for numbers we needed on basic trends, like key information on charcoal prices, with little success. For urgent needs, we would spend considerable amounts of time visiting line-ministries and other partners to see if we could pool our talents to come up with somewhat accurate data. And this was for truly basic information, for a picture, say, of biomass consumption in Sofala province, or a number for improved cookstoves in use across Mozambique. Back then, we couldn’t even imagine a national online portal that would publish all our missing data points in an easily accessible format. But the high cost of data gaps were apparent even then.
The 2016 World Development Report on “Digital Dividends” paints a clear picture of the remaining digital gap and of the barriers that are keeping countries from reaping the dividends associated with the digital revolution. One of the key points that the report makes is that, for digital technologies to benefit everyone everywhere, affordable access to high-speed internet is key.
- The quality and price of high-speed internet access still varies widely from country to country. For instance, the report shows that users in Pakistan pay less than US$1.50 per month per GB of mobile internet. But users in Africa can pay up to ten times that amount. These differences arise from policy failures as much as from differences in countries’ natural endowments.
- There is a need to enhance fixed broadband infrastructure. While mobile broadband has helped fill the gap for high-speed Internet access in developing countries, small screen devices are not necessarily suitable for running a digital business and mobile networks still need strong backhaul infrastructure.
- There is also a need to strengthen analog complements to digital technologies, such as regulations that create a vibrant business climate and skills that let firms leverage digital technologies to compete and innovate.
The 2016 World Development Report: Digital Dividends, the World Bank’s flagship report launched on 14 January 2016, presents a policy framework to assist governments in making the best use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development. Specifically, the policy framework, presented on the page 206 of the report, shows how policy interventions in the areas of market competition, public private partnership and effective regulation can help in addressing the digital divide and enhancing connectivity. The policy framework is structured around actions in the first mile, middle mile and last mile of the network as well as in the intangible parts, labelled the “invisible mile” (see “How networks are built”).
Missing birth registration certificates, often needed to obtain an ID, and other missing documentation hamper numerous daily activities: access to services such as social protection, education, and health care; entitlement claims; access to financial institutions, credit, and other economic opportunities and enablers, including many jobs; family and property transactions requiring certified individual legal status; and the exercise of basic citizenship rights, such as voting and participating in politics.
Among the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 16 aims to "promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels." To track progress toward meeting this goal, SDG16.9 sets the following target: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration. Sharply scaling up efforts to meet this goal is especially vital to achieving Goal 5, "Achieve Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls."
Jobs and assets are key levers of change for women in their communities and economies. Goal 5 aims to fulfill women’s equal rights to economic resources including access to and ownership and control over land and other forms of property, and inheritance. But this will require vastly more women to possess official proof of identity.
Statelessness is now a systemic challenge affecting over 10 million people in the world, with millions of children placed in vulnerable situations. Experts also note that the statistics on the number of stateless persons have to be revised to account for the intensified cross-border migration and massive refugee influx.
In the last couple of years alone, some fifty thousand Syrian refugee children have been born abroad and over 70 per cent of them have not been registered at birth, making it almost impossible for them to prove their citizenship later on. The issue is of growing concern. Development agencies worry that in countries hosting the 20 largest stateless populations, at least 70,000 stateless children are born each year. What sense and, more importantly, proof of identity will they have?
- Information and Communication Technologies
- identification for development
- ID4D digital
- digital ID
- #ict4d ICT4D
- information and communication for development (ICT4D)
- technology blockchain
- self-sovereign identity systems
- sovereign identity
- refugee crisis
Farming can be precarious. This is especially true if you are poor and living in an area susceptible to climate shocks. In sub-Saharan Africa, with approximately 1 billion inhabitants, agriculture still accounts for roughly 64% of employment. Moreover, more than 95% of its arable land relies solely on rainfall, without the luxury of irrigation. As a result, climate shocks such as drought frequently cause crop loss and livestock death across the continent, sending large parts of the population into turmoil. A changing climate is expected to make the situation worse.
Less than a month after the adoption of the new global development agenda – Agenda 2030 – the question “A Legal Identity for All by 2030: What Will It Take?” brought together 32 development practitioners and scholars for a three-day workshop to discuss an answer to this question, and how progress towards a legal identity for all could be measured. The workshop was co-hosted by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) based in New York and the Civil Registration Centre for Development (CRC4D) of The Hague, The Netherlands.
With the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the 70th United Nations General Assembly, it has been widely acknowledged that digital technology, the data revolution and the spread of broadband coverage will play a central role in accelerating data collection and measuring progress on the SDGs, as well as enabling governments to improve their decision-making capabilities, and delivery of critical services.In other words, digital innovation will be critical for achieving the SDGs. And if countries are focused on following a sustainable development path, they will have to get serious about reaping the digital dividends from the use of information and communication technologies.
The good news is that this is already happening. Digital technologies and data analytics, for example, have been used effectively to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa; and mobile phone networks have brought modern banking to unserved populations throughout the developing world.
These new technologies are empowering people – most notably the rapidly growing youth population – and creating new opportunities for alleviating poverty and boosting economic growth.
It is in this context that a couple of weeks ago we hosted at World Bank headquarters a one-day event titled “Estonia ICT Day –Smart Digital Solutions for Sustainable Development”.
Last week, I attended Borderless Cyber Forum 2015, hosted by the World Bank and organized in collaboration with OASIS, a non-profit, international consortium that creates interoperable industry specifications based on public standards. This week, the UN adopted Goal 16, Target 10, of the Sustainable Development Goals on public access to information. Could these two weeks be more contrasting? Both security and public access to information are integral to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies in support of poverty reduction and economic development.
Very often, public access to information and Cyber Security are portrayed in opposition to one another. Right to Information laws – also called Freedom of Information and Access to Information laws, which are now in place in over 100 countries worldwide – provide legislative guarantees of public access to information. Frequently, they are seen as being only about opening up government information to citizens. In reality the picture is more nuanced, and there are ways in which Right to Information laws can be seen as an effective means of supporting Cyber Security.