Looking towards the new year and the close of the Obama Administration, it is motivating to reflect on the large strides made in digital inclusion. The rise of digital inclusion has transformed individual lives and communities across the world. Through mobile phones and the internet, remote communities once cut off from basic information and services can now access resources, education, local and international markets, and job opportunities.
In such ways, digital inclusion is helping millions climb out of extreme poverty.
“The ‘digitization’ of developing economies could yield as much as a $4.1 trillion increase in GDP among the 3.9 billion consumers at the base of the pyramid,” writes Ann Mei Chang, Executive Director of the Global Development Lab in a blog titled, Foreign Assistance in the Digital Age, with input from mSTAR’s Shailee Adinolfi, Technical Advisor.
“Imagine a world,” the piece continues, where “health workers in rural communities are not only sharing maternal health information videos with their patients, but sending and receiving payments using mobile money and consulting in real-time with medical experts. ‘Digital development’ can be a driver of more inclusive economic growth and is poised to be a critical component of global efforts to end extreme poverty.”
Although significant advancements in digital inclusion have been made, there are billions of people who remain unconnected. Chang, with inputs from Adinolfi, lays out six recommendations for the international community to address digital inclusion and move forward to close the digital divide:
- Catalyze increased connectivity
- Enable a digital workforce
- Expand the reach and usage of digital financial services:
- Rationalize investments in information and communication technologies for development
- Increase data-driven decision-making
- Harness innovation to accelerate development outcomes
Through coordinated efforts in digital inclusion, the international community can make critical progress in its goal to end extreme poverty. As the development community looks towards the new year and building a more resilient world, we must take these recommendations to heart.
To read the article published on Brookings in full, click here.