BALTIMORE, Maryland – Bill and Melinda Gates are betting that technology will end global poverty by 2030 thanks to improvements in development work. “The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any time in history,” they wrote in the 2015 Gates Annual Letter. “And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.”
They state that innovation and technology will lead to breakthroughs in health, farming, banking and education in the next 15 years that will end global poverty.
The couple’s predictions are not without merit. Already there are numerous examples of technology improving the lives of impoverished people around the world. For example, Melinda Gates says that mobile banking will allow people “to save what they earn or borrow what they need cheaply.”
In Kenya, the money transfer service called M-Pesa, gives poor people access to basic financial services that improve their livelihoods. The initiative was launched by Safaricom, one of the biggest mobile networks in Kenya, in 2007 and has secured more than two-thirds of Kenya’s adult population as customers. Moreover, 43 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) flows through M-Pesa.
The Gates Annual Letter also explains how technology helps Africa feed itself. Currently, food imports cost Africa $50 billion annually, according to the World Bank. However, with technology African farmers will be able to get the information they need in order to increase their productivity.
“With the right investments [in mobile communications], we can deliver innovation and information to enough farmers in Africa to increase productivity by 50 percent for the continent overall,” says Melinda Gates.
“One promising trend is that, as more farmers have access to mobile phones, they will be able to receive all sorts of information, from weather reports to current market prices — via text messages.”
The letter also emphasizes the importance of digital schooling to improve global education initiatives. The couple predicts, “Online education will reach hundreds of millions of people.” According to Bill Gates, technology will close the literacy gap between men and women across the world.
The husband and wife also stated that closing the education gap and gearing tools towards women is important because if women’s levels of employment matched men’s employment in Africa, then the GDP would go up 12 percent by 2030.
The letter concludes by calling upon the international community to join in the effort to eradicate global poverty. “We want to break the cycle of poverty,” the letter states. “And if we all work together, we bet it can be done.”
Sources: HuffPost, Gatesnotes, CSmonitor