Tag Archives: Technology

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #16: USAID’s “Innovation Evangelist” Alexis Bonnell on How Innovation is Changing International Development

Alexis Bonnell (@alexisbonnell) from USAID’s Global Development Lab (@GlobalDevLab) talks about how innovation is changing the way development work is done around the world, harnessing 21st century technology to create more development impact, and how some of the most effective innovation tools can be both simple and inexpensive. Bonnell also talks about what it takes to have a successful career in international development today. Learn more at www.globalinnovationexchange.org.

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Using Mobile Technologies for Better Engagement with Stakeholders

it-toolkit

How can civil society organizations gather more data and information from its constituents for a better public private dialogue (PPD) process? Taking advantage of available free or low-cost mobile technologies is one answer.

Mobile technologies have transformed how people across the world communicate and access information. According to the GSMA, already 3.2 billion people around the world are online and out of them, 2.4 billion are accessing the internet via mobile.  And this number is expected to keep rising as mobiles and data services become more available and affordable in different parts of emerging markets. It’s obvious that, then, PPD conveners should leverage mobile tools to engage more with their stakeholders.

The International Training Centre of the International Labor Organisation (ITCILO) developed an interactive toolkit on mobile engagement for business member organizations (BMOs) and other civil society organizations to use to better interact with constituents. The online toolkit reviews:

  • Reasons for using mobile tools for engagement
  • Methods and strategies to use depending on delivering content, gathering feedback or providing support for an issue
  • Step-by-step demonstration on how to use 10 different mobile tools for engagement

Explore the toolkit and find new ways to improve your PPD process using mobile tools.

Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.

Promoting Advocacy with Technology Part 2: Two days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

tech4dem cambodia

By Micheal Gallagher, Panoply Digital

This blog post was originally published by Panoply Digital, who are helping CIPE partners around the world improve their digital capabilities. Read the first part here.

In an ongoing collaboration with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), an organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform, Panoply Digital recently conducted a two day technology training workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This is the second training we have done in this regard, with the first being a recent event in Lagos, Nigeria which my colleague Lauren wrote about here.

The participants were from two of CIPE’s partners in the region SILAKA is an organization dedicated to promoting good governance and gender equality in rebuilding Cambodian society; nurturing networking and cooperation to engage both demand and supply sides; and sharing knowledge and experiences to help advancement Cambodian’s development, and peace building. The second,CAMFEBA (The Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations), represents the private sector with over 2,000 employers and business associations in Cambodia with legal, strategic, or training consultation.

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Making Digital Development Projects Work

Photo: United Nations

A farmer checks market information on a mobile phone. Photo: United Nations

In the last decade, countless development projects have piloted new tools to reach more beneficiaries or to make current systems more efficient. While the intentions of such initiatives are good, often the results are not stellar.

This is because digital development projects often favor one-off activities, like hackathons. The best solutions are focused on identifying an immediate solution for a particular sector and location. As such, products are developed in silos and many never go beyond the pilot phases.

A good example of this disaster is what happened in Uganda with mHealth initiatives. In 2008 and 2009, Uganda had 23 similar mHealth projects led by different development organizations that failed to scale up and ended shortly after the initial funding. The problem got so bad that Uganda’s Ministry of Health declared a moratorium on pilot mHealth initiatives.

map-of-mhealth-pilots-in-uganda

Map of Mhealth Pilots in Uganda. Source: Sean Blaschke, Technology for Development Specialist at UNICEF Uganda

To prevent such failures, leading global development practitioners, including the Gates Foundation and UNDP, have endorsed the Principles for Digital Development. What exactly are the Principles? They’re a community-developed set of guidelines to help the development community integrate best practices into technology or digital-based projects.

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Disruptive Development: Harnessing the Power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa

2015 TechGirls at iD Tech Camp at American University

Many say that we are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by rapid and transformative technological advancement on a scale the world has never seen before. This Fourth Industrial Revolution has already radically and fundamentally altered the way we live, work, and interact with one another, and, unlike the ones that preceded it, is evolving at an exponential, rather than a linear, pace. Its possibilities are nearly endless.

And while previous industrial revolutions were slow to spread to certain areas of the world—thus engendering spheres of “industrialized” and “non-industrialized”—the technological nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has meant that the playing field has evened somewhat; industry in virtually every country has been disrupted, and transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance is all but inevitable, if it hasn’t already started.

From cell phones to self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaking up what we know—or think we know—about almost everything. This presents an opportunity to recalibrate the lens through which we view and approach critical development issues, and provides a challenge to traditional mechanisms for delivering key goods and services.

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Promoting Advocacy with Technology

panoply

By Lauren Dawes, Panoply Digital

This blog post was originally published by Panoply Digital, who are helping CIPE partners around the world improve their digital capabilities.

In a previous blog, Michael wrote about the work we have been doing with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) for almost a year now – developing a training programme to teach partners of CIPE’s network how to better communicate and carry out their advocacy efforts via the use of technology. The programme is the brainchild of Maiko Nakagaki, Programme Officer (Global) at CIPE who identified a need and opportunity to bolster their partner’s capacity to better serve their members through the integration of technology. The initial phase of our project consisted of surveys and in-depth interviews to assist us in identifying several high-need countries to conduct the training workshops. The first of those, Nigeria, took place on February 15-16 where I was hosted by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) to deliver four modules: Research, Polling and Tracking, Communication, and Online Presence.

Many of the ANWBN coalition was represented across the two days including International Women Society of Nigeria (IWSN), Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), and NACCIMA Women Wing (NAWOG). The training consisted of live demos and hands on activities which was great fun given the how keen the group was to learn. Of course there were the obvious concerns when preparing to deliver the training – limited bandwidth and power outages being the main ones – but the internet held strong and the outages kindly timed themselves with our scheduled breaks! One of the key outcomes was to ensure that there would be uptake of some of the tools that we trained the attendees on. For that to be a viable option, they needed to be free or low-cost, require minimal bandwidth, be accessible across multiple devices and easy to implement and use. With that in mind, we opted to use a couple of Google tools: Alerts and Forms; BulkSMS and SMS Poll to cover communication and capturing data on basic devices; and Feedly.

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The secret of economic growth

The search for the ultimate secret of economic growth consumes many great minds and reformers. Theories abound from endogenous to exogenous economic growth models.

One of the latest trends, at least in the development community, is to look more closely at the role of technology in spurring economic growth. For instance, USAID has recently set up the Development Innovation Ventures program and there is a new initiative that seeks to empower women through mobile technologies. There are successful examples – take, for instance, mobile banking, which has transformed Africa.

Yet, as Bill Clinton reminded us earlier this week – technology alone is not enough. It is a necessary component of development, yet without focus on institutions – the success will be limited:

“Do we need technology? Yes,” he said. “But it needs to be in the service of building functioning institutions. The big problem in poor countries is they don’t have the institutions we take for granted.”

Moreover,

Clinton cautioned that while technology holds much promise to help bring progress, technology in itself isn’t sufficient to elevate the condition of the world’s poor, and in some cases (particularly in developed countries), technology is often part of the problem.

One of the founders of the modern institutional economics field, Nobel Prize Laureate Douglass North, has a similar take on new technologies. He argues that institutional and organizational restructuring are key if one is to take advantage of new technologies.

In other words, what allows market economies to succeed is their flexibility and the resulting ability to adapt and adjust to new challenges. Further, North concludes that it is indeed “the economic and political institutions in a society (together with the technology employed) that determine the efficiency of markets.”

One way to look at this debate is from the point of view of innovations rather than new technologies alone. Development is not only about countries being able to import new technologies, it is also about countries’ ability to innovate, create, and embed new technologies in formal and informal practices.

As long as that innovation is restricted by poor rule of law, weak contract enforcement, lacking investment, and insufficient real and intellectual property rights, successes with the use of new technology to alleviate poverty and drive growth will be an exception rather than the norm. Just ask the UN.