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FEATURE STORY April 24, 2020

Digital Development Partnership: Making Sure No One is Left Behind in the Digital Age



  • While technology is reshaping our world, too many people, in too many countries cannot yet reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.
  • The Digital Development Partnership (DDP) plays an important role in driving the global digital agenda forward.
  • With Norway, The Netherlands, Israel and Google joining the partnership over the past few months, DDP is now 12 partners strong.

WASHINGTON, APRIL 24, 2020—At Age 4, the Digital Development Partnership (DDP) has grown from a knowledge partnership dedicated to helping developing countries leveraging technology to solve their most pressing challenges to a fully operational platform supporting World Bank’s clients in their path to digital transformation.  DDP’s global footprint has grown exponentially over the past 12 months. DDP is currently working with 50+ client countries. This reflects a rapid expansion up from around 25 active client relationships just a year ago.

Africa remains a priority with DDP currently assisting 30+ client countries in the region. In 2019, the World Bank Group launched the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) Initiative In support of the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy. The initiative sets an ambitious and bold vision to digitally connect every individual, business and government in Africa by 2030. DDP supports the initiative through digital economy diagnostics mapping the strengths and weaknesses of a country’s digital economy and identifying challenges and opportunities for future growth as well as through technical assistance.

Our engagements across the globe are leading to tangible results. As highlighted in DDP’s 2019 Annual Report, our work supported the establishment of the first regulator in Ethiopia and more effective sector regulation in Peru that have significantly improved broadband offering. In Central Asia, with support from DDP, governments are aiming to establish digital platforms for improved public sector service delivery.

Seven cybersecurity assessments were carried out in Africa and 22 African countries were involved in the awareness raising and technical assistance that was offered alongside the assessments. Ten countries received cybersecurity-related training during training courses in Japan.

On the knowledge front, 2019 was a strong year for DDP with the release of flagship reports including a UN Broadband Commission Report on “Connecting Africa through Broadband” calling for urgent action to close the internet access gap as well as a report on the “Digital Economy in Southeast Asia: Building the Foundations for Future Growth.” 2020 will see the release of reports on harnessing Artificial Intelligence and 5G  for Development which will address the positive and negative impact of new technologies. “If we fail to recognize the promise of these new technologies for developing countries and the need to make them safe, affordable and inclusive, we will fail in our mission to promote equitable growth across the world,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure.

Through DDP, we are building strong partnerships with the private sector to foster the creation and implementation of digital development strategies for our client countries. In March 2020, Google joined DDP bringing the number of private sector partners to three (GSMA and Microsoft were founding partners of DDP). Three new partners joined DDP last year —Norway, Israel and The Netherlands—enriching the platform with their unique experience and bringing the total number of partners to 12. “The technical and thought leadership brought by our partners are a prerequisite to secure great development outcomes. I am immensely grateful to all our partners and donors for their collaboration and ongoing support,” says Boutheina Guermazi, the World Bank’s director for Digital Development.

In 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of DDP has never been more relevant.  Countries that do not have the infrastructure for widespread internet access are bracing for the worst. DDP is currently assessing the needs of our client countries to help them navigate the current crisis and connect the unconnected.

For more information about DDP, read the 2019 Annual Report.