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  • Writer's pictureTimothy Laku

Digital4Development: How digital tools can accelerate inclusive & sustainable development in Africa

On XFM this week, we looked at how Digitalization can accelerate inclusive growth and sustainable development across Africa. Digital tools, when leveraged strategically, can be key to improving lives even in the poorest countries.

At the XFM studios in Kampala talking about Digital for Development

When we started the Digital series eight weeks ago, we focused on digital for the enterprise. We looked at why Going Digital is no longer an option for the enterprise but the only way to compete and survive.

It was clear, from that discussion, that Going Digital is not enough, organizations have to Be Digital. They must embody a strategy and a culture that puts digital transformation at the heart of their business.

We also looked at how enterprises are leveraging digitalization to gain a competitive edge in the market place. We did take some time and also looked at how governments can better serve it's citizens through e-services through e-Gov initiatives.

We concluded the first series last week with how digital tools can help businesses with scale, scope and speed.

So what is this development angle?

Innovations in areas such as mobile payments and remote healthcare in developing countries are helping to turn the old development paradigm on its head. There are many tools today that are being leveraged by different organizations for development.

What role can digitalization play in sustainable development?

This is one of the questions that listeners keep asking me on Twitter.

Yes, digital tools can accelerate inclusive growth and sustainable development across Africa. There are a dozen of organizations in Sub Saharan Africa that are leveraging these tools, in remarkable ways, to meet the SDG goals.

Digital tools, when leveraged strategically, can be key to improving lives even in the poorest countries, in particular by empowering women & girls, enhancing democratic governance & transparency, and boosting productivity and job creation.

What are some of these digital tools?

eHealth is a tool for healthcare that is more focused that gives more benefits to people. eGov is a tool for more transparency, more accountability, and less corruption. eEdu is a tool to be used in education. Emerging capabilities in AI, Big Data, Robotics, Cloud, Mobile, Cyber Security, and Blockchain can all add tremendous value to the work that organizations are already doing.

How do these tools come in when you look at the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Digital tools can be leveraged to meet these goals. Here is how:

  • Good Health & Well-being - SDG #3 E-health applications quickly transmit data between medical units and also provide the opportunity for rural patients to benefit from remote diagnosis.

  • Quality Education - SDG #4 E-teaching and e-learning provide for flexibility and the opportunity to access teaching material provided by leading education institutes.

  • Gender Equality - SDG # 5 New communication channels enhance women's participation in the workforce and everyday life and provide access to education, finance and social networks.

  • Decent Work and Economic Growth - SDG #8 The generation of new online services contributes to job creation. Short term contract work is increasingly being done through the gig economy.

  • Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life On Land - SDG #13 #14 #15 Digital technologies provide global data on weather, water flows, forest reserves, oceans, seas, and climate.

  • Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions - SDG #16 Digital technologies can enable registration of children at birth, promote access to public information & improve transparency of public institutions

  • Sustainable Cities and Communities - SDG #11 Open data and transparency are becoming more important. Transparency is the cornerstone of development work across the globe. Digital can be leveraged to improve the transparency of humanitarian resources

What about accountability to stakeholders?

Leveraging digital tools, funding can be easily tracked from donor down to the projects on the ground. Being able to ‘follow the money’ means organizations are becoming more accountable to their beneficiaries. The beauty of digital is that even with shrinking development budgets, technology has the potential to maximize the impact of these projects

What about policy? Is government & civil society ready?

In order for digital to drive inclusive growth and sustainable development, digital needs to be part of development policy. It's now time that government and civil society become part of the conversation.

Tune in to Digital Thursday on XFM 94.8 from 9 am to 10 am

Be part of the conversation on Twitter @timothylaku and follow the hashtags below



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