Digitalisation and sustainable economic and social development

© GIZ/Florian Kopp

Digitalisation is already having a substantial impact on social and economic prospects worldwide. GIZ offers innovative approaches for exploiting the opportunities offered by digitalisation to promote sustainable development.

Digitalisation will have a major impact on the future economic and social development of countries and regions. Because digital solutions make it possible to skip traditional development steps, digitalisation has the potential to drive sustainable development and promote a better quality of life in developing and emerging countries. One specific example of this is e-payments (mobile payment systems), which enable easy access to financial services for marginalised population groups. The same applies to approaches to mobile learning and to health services and the establishment of new business models.

 However, digitalisation also brings considerable challenges. Firstly, greater efforts are needed to bridge the digital divide and teach people how to use new technologies, thereby enabling them to harness the full potential of digital applications. Secondly, far-reaching changes in government, society and the economy may result in increased potential for conflict. Political power structures are being disbanded and reconfigured, institutional structures are being weakened in part, and new risks are emerging in connection with the misuse of technology. Labour markets and requirements in terms of future professional capacities are evolving rapidly, putting additional pressure on underdeveloped vocational training systems.

Given the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation, GIZ’s clear objective is to leverage the enormous potential of digital solutions, mitigate any adverse effects and work to ensure that everyone in its partner countries benefit from these developments. GIZ seeks to achieve this by providing advice on the design of viable training courses (using ICT-based methods and instruments), strengthening sustainable and responsible financial inclusion, and promoting digital approaches for improved access to health care and social protection.

Moreover, GIZ develops innovative approaches and formats for implementing digital applications in the private sector and for supporting companies that do business on the internet. A large number of ICT-related projects are already being implemented to this end worldwide. These range from e-learning in Honduras, Albania and Pakistan to an indigenous university network in Bolivia, and from the promotion of digital-start-ups and app development in Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia and Yemen to digital financial services in Ghana, Jordan and Mozambique.

At the same time, digital change is also affecting the realisation of development cooperation and opening up opportunities for implementation and evaluation using new methods, new actors and new formats. To drive forward this development, GIZ is networking with a wide variety of stakeholders such as incubators, private companies, consulting firms and research institutes, and is thus constantly expanding its digital ecosystem.