Space to Innovate? How Technology Can Drive Transatlantic Development
— Aaron Sherinian (@ASherinian) July 22, 2015
Technology provides the potential for faster and more responsive communication, that develops emerging economies connect to the global economy. The way we communicate around the world has dramatically changed in the past two decades. In 2000, only 1 out of 25 people in developing countries had Internet access. Today, that number has grown to 1 out of 3 people. Thus, technology can connect development workers, give entrepreneurs access to global supply chains, and help minorities and marginalized populations stay informed. But only if utilized efficiently and supported by deft policy at all levels of government and civil society.
In a recent event co-hosted by the German Marshall Fund’s Young Transatlantic Network and Development Gateway and moderated by MSNBC anchor Richard Lui, discussants Nancy Choi of Development Gateway, Lovisa Williams of the State Department, and Aaron Sherinian of the United Nations Foundation agreed that with a solid policy-based support system, technology amplifies marginalized voices and changes the nature of government-citizen interaction.
— Chelsea Dascher (@ChelseaDascher) July 22, 2015
A wide variety of successful tech-related initiatives already exist in emerging countries, allowing aid and provisions to communities be delivered more efficiently. For example, the growing use of data visualizations and maps by development organizations has made vital information much easier to spread to the masses. Open Schools Kenya is an online tool that allows users to look up information on over 300 schools in the Kibera region of Nairobi. Platforms such as the U.S. Department of State’s International Exchange Alumni for students of government-sponsored exchange programs allows users to exchange ideas and bid for grants to implement those ideas. The Global Development Lab, established in 2014 by USAID, seeks to expand the role of technology in providing innovative solutions to challenges within development.
Technology will undoubtedly continue to play a vital role in shaping the future of emerging countries. In its recent release of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations includes building capacity for information and communications technology (ICT) into its overall goals. In particular, certain SDGs call for greater data on issues related to gender mainstreaming (5.b), supporting domestic technology development, research, and innovation (9.b), and providing universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020 (9.c).
To realize these SDGs, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done in order to alleviate barriers in communication. Whether that means creating something as high-tech as a new mobile app or as low-tech as a map, creating inclusive environments are vital in our hyper-connected world. Therefore, policymakers must expedite the development and implementation of technology policies that serve community interests, allowing freer and more efficient societies for the 21st century.
— james strickland (@jstrickland88) July 23, 2015
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.