The World Bank's new Digital Development Partnership (DDP) helps operationalize the 2016 World Development Report on Digital Dividends and offers a platform for digital innovation and development financing. The DDP brings public and private sector partners together to catalyze support to developing countries in the articulation and implementation of digital development strategies and plans.
Digital technologies can help in addressing some of the toughest development challenges: providing access to information, overcoming remoteness, exclusion, and disconnects, and offering economic opportunity. World leaders, academics, the private sector, and development specialists agree on the tremendous potential of using digital technologies for development. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set the target to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the internet in least developed countries by 2020” (SDG target 9.c). More generally, the ambition of many SDGs such as target 5.c will require innovative, inclusive, technology-based solutions. Numerous initiatives led by civil society and the private sector call for a better use of digital technologies to achieve a breakthrough on some of the most persistent development challenges.
World Development Report 2016
The World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report on Digital Dividends (WDR 2016), published in January 2016, presents a balanced and nuanced analysis of the ‘Digital Dividends’ that developing countries can expect to reap. The report reviews the opportunities that digital technologies offer to developing countries, the risks that exist if the benefits of digital innovation accrue to those already better off, and the necessary complements (such as the country’s skills capacity, business environment, and governance) to ensure that digital development can work as a positive force for sustainable, inclusive development.
Digital Development Partnership
To help implement the SDGs and operationalize the WDR 2016, the World Bank has launched a Digital Development Partnership (DDP). This partnership makes digital solutions available to developing countries with an emphasis on the following areas:
The DDP has identified six priority work areas:
Data and Indicators
DDP scales up the use of data and indicators – including big data – to benchmark and advance the readiness of client countries to reap digital dividends. Toolkits combine information on the spread of digital technologies with an assessment of the regulatory environment. They inform all DDP reform priorities.
Digital Economy Enabling Environment
The convergence of ICT, media, and content technologies and platforms requires a regulatory framework in support of the digital economy. DDP funded activities seek to overhaul obsolete regulations, remove bottlenecks to the development of digital ecosystems, and foster competition. Issues of policy and regulation of the digital space to be addressed include: cloud services, local content creation, open data, consumer privacy and data protection, and, more generally, the interface between digital or ICT regulations and other sector regulations.
Cybersecurity concerns grow in parallel with the adoption of digital services and infrastructure. DDP will help advance the capacity of World Bank clients in the development of cybersecurity policies and standards, and support good practices in the use of cybersecurity tools, safeguards, and risk management instruments.
Internet Access for All
WDR 2016 argues that a new digital divide is emerging and constitutes one of the main hurdles to capturing digital dividends. DDP offers technical assistance to support client countries in enhancing their connectivity, covering matters of national policy and strategy, regulation and markets, technological standards, infrastructure sharing and development, spectrum management, taxation, gender aspects of connectivity, and regional ICT markets.
The WDR highlights the tremendous opportunities in using e-Government models to improve service delivery, foster transparency and efficiency in public administration, and empower all citizens and entrepreneurs. DDP supports client governments in the development of digital government infrastructure platforms and shared services. Work areas include digital government leadership, public sector IT architecture and governance, data and analytics platforms, and interoperability.
Mainstreaming Digital Services, Solutions, and Platforms
Digital delivery affects all fields of socio-economic activity. In the area of transport, for example, digital solutions can help increase efficiency, access, and reduce CO2 emissions. DDP fosters digital capabilities in a range of areas where collaboration with other World Bank Units, associations, firms, donors, and other partners can foster growth and inclusion. This implies jointly leveraging digital enablers such as Internet of Things, cloud computing, and mobile platforms and payment systems.
As digital progress is fast and primarily private sector driven, DDP draws on best practices from client countries and the private sector. To this end, DDP is bringing together traditional partners from the development community and leading global IT firms. Much of this digital development agenda is encouraged through loans and grants from the World Bank and other development partners.
Currently, DDP is in a partnership with Microsoft, GSMA, Finland, Japan, and Korea. DDP will further expand the partnership to catalyze multidonor funds to accelerate the engagement with country clients, roll out new approaches to ICT, and advance digital development.