SEATTLE, Washington — Over the past two decades, the world has transitioned into a new digital age of development. Across the globe, technology has redefined the way countries are working and the way people are living. Technology has created a new digital landscape that allows for stronger connectivity between people and more effective outreach of nations. These technologies can improve a country’s economic growth, poverty and access to information. However, there are still four billion people, about half of the world, who do not have access to the Internet. USAID’s Digital Strategy is aiming to improve digital access to further humanitarian aid.
USAID’s Digital Strategy
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) unveiled its Digital Strategy on April 20, 2020. It outlines future plans to assist these nations whose people do not have access to the Internet. USAID believes that digital tools are the best means to help oppressed nations and people out of their situations. The agency wants to create digital communities in these less prosperous areas to promote societal growth. USAID’s new digital strategy is part of a continuous effort to provide less-developed nations with foreign aid and assistance so eventually, they can become self-reliant.
The agency hopes that by giving developing nations better technological tools and practices it will accelerate development and improve the living standards of these countries. Reports show that implementing mobile phones can increase a country’s annual GDP growth by 6% by 2025. That could be more than $3.5 trillion. Additionally, 60% of lower to middle-class women say having a phone and services saves them money.
USAID’s Digital Strategy Goals
USAID’s new digital strategy can be broken down into two main goals. The first goal is for USAID to responsibly use its digital tools to improve the current programs and approaches already being used and the outcomes of its aid to other nations. The second goal is to improve and promote digital communities in other country’s so that all people have access.
The agency’s first goal is more focused on its internal workings as an agency. USAID wants to better understand the digital tools it is using by becoming more responsible in the way they use them. This increased knowledge gives the agency a better scope, which helps current programs become more productive and useful. Once the agency is better versed in the tools it needs to creates a successful digital community they can apply that to other nations.
USAID’s second objective is more external as it focuses on the communities in other nations. This goal is more connected to the agency’s overall goal of decreasing a country’s need for foreign aid. USAID believes it can do this by giving tools to improve digital communities in other nations. However, USAID doesn’t only want to give other nations these tools but make sure the communities the agency creates are sustainable and inclusive while still respecting the personal rights of citizens.
Ways Digital Inclusion Helps Societies
USAID wants to create strong and independent digital communities these nations from which their people can benefit. It is through these communities that places can use the resources and opportunities provided by technology to improve their impoverished situations. Digital money systems like M-PESA, for example, aided 194,000 Kenyan families out of poverty.
Increased technology will allow people to access the internet which can provide thousands of different resources available for personal growth and achievement. For example, with access to the internet, children could learn to read and write with free learning programs. Furthermore, 68% of women in low and middle-income countries say that having a mobile phone makes them feel safer. At least 60% of women reported having more money thanks to mobile phones.
USAID’s digital strategy will begin in a small group on nations before expanding to the rest of the countries affiliated with the agency. Over a 5 year period, USAID will release materials and continuously monitor the progress of the nations to make sure the application of new tools is successful in improving growth and development in communities.
– George Hashemi