The World Bank has launched the Digital Development Partnership (DDP) to help operationalize the 2016 World Development Report on Digital Dividends and to offer 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 by: providing access to information, overcoming remoteness, exclusion, 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) presents a balanced and nuanced analysis of the broader development benefits that developing countries can expect to reap from rapidly-expanding digital technologies. 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 the Digital Development Partnership (DDP). This partnership will make digital solutions available to developing countries in a range of different work areas:
The DDP has identified five priority work areas:
Data and Indicators
DDP will develop a diagnostic toolkit and a set of indicators to benchmark the readiness of client countries to reap digital dividends. This toolkit will combine information on the spread of digital technologies with an assessment of the regulatory environment. The diagnostic toolkit will build on the Digital Adoption Index developed for the WDR 2016. This will inform 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 will 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, development of a trust environment based on cybersecurity and consumer privacy and data protection, regulations for online payment systems and, more generally, the interface between digital or ICT regulations and other sector regulations.
Internet Access for All
The WDR 2016 argues that a new digital divide is emerging and constitutes one of the main hurdles to capturing digital dividends. DDP will offer 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 will support client governments in the development of digital government infrastructure platforms and shared services. Work areas will include digital government leadership, public sector IT architecture and governance, data and analytics platforms, as well as interoperability.
Mainstreaming Digital Services, Solutions, and Platforms
Digital innovation affects all fields of socioeconomic activity. Digital transport systems make logistics more efficient; digital energy applications allow for smart grids; e-health can support domestic health systems, and ecommerce platforms offer new economic opportunities for small entrepreneurs – to mention just a few. DDP will assist the mainstreaming of digital applications by leveraging digital enablers such as Big Data analytics, cloud computing, mobile platforms and payment systems, and location services for smarter development solutions.
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, and partnerships with bilateral partners are forthcoming. 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.