Digitalisation offers development opportunities by facilitating access to education, income and political participation.
Digital services are indispensable for development. They make processes more efficient, offer a basis for informed decision-making and allow more people to access otherwise inaccessible services.
For rural development, digitalisation enables networking and easier access to external expertise. New markets can be explored and digital financial services used.
In politics, digitalisation can increase efficiency; it makes it easier to gain an overview of complex processes and can therefore lead to better decision-making. Not least, it offers citizens new opportunities for political participation. State administrative processes can be monitored more easily, making them less susceptible to corruption.
In fragile contexts, where state institutions cannot fulfil their role properly, digitalisation offers opportunities for collecting and publicising information. This means that, even in crisis situations, the people can receive vital information, especially when this information is disseminated quickly and accurately through crowdsourcing.
Decentralised access to data enables social protection systems to work more smoothly and efficiently. In practice, this means that more people receive access to social services, particularly in remote regions. Telemedicine improves medical care for this group, and digital training courses offer greater equality of opportunity, regardless of location. Thanks to digitalisation, experts the world over can be contacted from any location.
The economic effects of digital change can be felt by micro-entrepreneurs, who benefit from easier access to markets and market information, and extend to the inclusion of entire economies in global value chains. New management systems enhance the efficiency of work flows, reduce costs and enable large-scale automation in production facilities.
Digitalisation also paves the way for the responsible use of resources – through intelligent electricity networks, for example. Smart cities use millions of sensors and a variety of communication channels to control traffic flows efficiently and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Large volumes of climate data can be collected, analysed and used for climate risk management, regional early warning systems and climate risk insurance.
However, not everyone can benefit from these advantages: Four billion people around the world, some 90 per cent in developing countries, are ʻoffline’. The digital divide is widening – between industrialised and developing countries, between social strata and between urban and rural areas. Improving digital participation is therefore a key objective of German development cooperation.