The goals of multilateral development agencies, United Nations and World Bank Group are laser-focused on the post-2015 development agenda, calling for transformative change by eradicating extreme poverty and raising economic prosperity for all. This vision for a new era in development is rightly bold and ambitious, but cannot be delivered without fully embracing the transformative power of technology and innovation
, including information and communications technology or ICT.
Most would agree that technology solutions exist for most every seemingly intractable problem. Yet often our greatest challenge is to match the problem with the solution. In my various “technology for development” and trade promotion roles with the United Nations and World Bank, it is so clearly evident that government leaders know what problems they need to solve, but are simply unaware of the technology solutions available to them. Even the most highly informed development experts are not aware of the technologies being produced for their particular area of expertise, and technology firms are often unaware of the vast and specific challenges developing countries face.
Thus, it is critical to first identify specific, not general challenges in areas such as access to capital, business creation, countrywide connectivity, education and training, employment, environmental protection, government administration, health, housing, hunger, infrastructure, pollution, population growth, trade expansion, waste, water scarcity, and women’s empowerment. These are but a fraction of problems facing the developing world.