The World Bank provides an extensive range of services and solutions to make sure client countries can harness the power of digital development.
Our activities in the sector is based on an ecosystem approach for digital transformation involving strong collaboration across the World Bank Group and focusing on five key elements which, combined, form the basis for strong and inclusive digital economies:
- Digital infrastructure (fixed and mobile broadband, fiber-optic cables, etc.) is the backbone of the digital economy. Access to digital connectivity should be universal, safe and affordable.
- Digital financial services and digital identification allow individuals, businesses, and governments to interact and conduct transactions.
- Digital innovation and entrepreneurship need a supportive ecosystem of government regulations and access to financing.
- Digital platforms, including e-commerce and e-government, drive usage and foster economic activity.
- Digital literacy and skills create a digitally savvy workforce and boost competitiveness.
Besides telecommunications expertise, building the five foundations of the digital economy requires capacity in multiple other fields, including finance, private sector development, education, labor, social protection, etc. As a result, the digital agenda mobilizes a wide variety of experts throughout the World Bank, IFC, and MIGA.
While multidisciplinary collaboration is essential to the success of digital development itself, it also creates opportunities to integrate cutting-edge digital solutions across sectors — whether it be using geospatial analysis to improve disaster risk management, deploying wifi-enabled sensors to monitor crops remotely, or using big data from mobile devices to design better public transport networks.
But even though technology has opened a wealth of new possibilities for global development, it does not come without risk. Cybersecurity and data protection, in particular, have become a growing concern. We work closely with client countries to help them implement the infrastructure, tools, and regulations that are necessary to address these challenges. We are also focusing on making sure that digital opportunities are inclusive while also managing risks of exclusion.
The number of World Bank operations with significant digital components has grown to nearly $5 billion in commitments in Fiscal Year 2021. In addition, digital development components are increasingly included in projects across different sectors such as transport, education, health, agriculture, and public sector management.
World Bank interventions in the digital sector are informed by in-depth research and analysis. Recent publications include:
In addition to direct financial assistance and analytical work, the World Bank leverages its convening power to pool knowledge and resources from a vast array of public agencies, experts, innovators, private companies, and investors.
To make digital solutions more easily accessible to developing countries, the World Bank hosts the Digital Development Partnership (DDP), a platform for digital innovation and development finance. The DDP brings together public and private sector partners to foster the creation and implementation of digital development strategies, and to facilitate global knowledge exchange on digital development. In 2021, an associated trust fund focused on integrating cybersecurity into the development agenda was launched as part of the DDP umbrella.
The Identification for Development Initiative (ID4D), hosted by the World Bank, catalyzes the creation of robust and inclusive digital identification systems through analytics, assessments, and financing. Digital technology has unprecedented potential to close the global identification gap and transform the lives of the almost one billion people who still lack an official ID.
Leveraging the same, synergetic, multi-global practice platform of ID4D, the Bank launched the Government-to-Person payments (G2Px) initiative. This effort focuses on digitizing cash transfer/social assistance payments as a means of contributing to the long-term development goals of individual agency/choice across providers, financial inclusion, and women’s economic empowerment. The initiative comes at a crucial time when governments around the world are scaling up social assistance and finding ways to directly transfer funds to individuals.
The Korea Digital Development Program (KoDi) leverages the experience and best practices of Korea, as well as other advanced digital countries, to develop national data ecosystems, spur green digital innovation, and create sizeable economic and social development opportunities in low-and middle-income countries.
In Africa, the World Bank Group is supporting the African Union’s efforts toward the digital transformation of the continent through the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) in support of the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy 2020-2030. Its sets an ambitious and bold vision to digitally connect every individual, business and government in Africa by 2030 and seeks to propel the continent forward and ensure that African countries reap the full benefits of the digital economy.
In the Middle East and North Africa, the MENATECH initiative aims to support MENA countries in accelerating their digital transformation, with a priority focus given to widespread affordable and good quality access to broadband as well as to financial services.
In South Asia, the Digital Economy for South Asia (DE4SA) initiative aims to support all eight South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) with digital economy assessments and targeted technical support and policy dialogue to identify bottlenecks in the foundations of the digital economy, and maximize benefits of the digital economy while mitigating the risks. This ambitious effort for South Asia will also include a deeper look at informality in South Asia, and the effects of digital technologies and digital business models, particularly digital platforms, towards it.
The Digital Development Global Practice is coordinating the cooperation with the development community on digital issues, including with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, and the UN Broadband Commission (BB Com). Under the Broadband Commission, we are currently supporting the efforts to improve school connectivity through analytical work and support to the Giga initiative, a global initiative to connect every school to the internet. Our teams are collaborating with Giga to map schools, assess their connectivity needs and identify technology and financing solutions to connect them.
Together with the Development Economics team, we are co- leading the Mobility Analytics Task Force, which aims at generating analytics on mobility to inform mitigation policies for preventing the spread of the virus. The Task Force will use data from Mobile Networks Operators (MNOs), smartphone applications and data aggregators. We are leveraging our close relationships with telecom operators worldwide in order to facilitate access to MNOs in the world.
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2022