Development Co-operation Report 2021

The report sheds light on the digital realities in low- and middle-income countries and gives an overview of financing trends in development cooperation.

The Development Co-operation Report 2021: Shaping a Just Digital Transformation was published by the OECD in December 2021. The authors recommend policies that maximise the gains and reduce the risks of digital transformation. They conclude by outlining various development cooperation strategies and financing approaches.

Global digital transformation is at a tipping point, according to the report, with low- and middle-income countries struggling to gain a foothold in the global digital economy. This is the result of limited digital capacity and skills as well as fragmented global and regional rules. Political stability, democracy, human rights and equality also risk being undermined by weak governance and the abuse of digital technology.

Most of the 2.9 billion people who are still offline live developing countries, often in rural areas. They either do not have internet coverage or face barriers to use. Closing the coverage gap is essential but not sufficient: nearly half of the people with broadband access do not use it. The report says that closing the usage gap must now be the focus.

Barriers to internet use include lack of electricity to power digital devices and the high costs of data and digital devices. In developing countries, the most frequently cited reason for not using the internet is lack of digital literacy.

According to the report, development cooperation can help achieve a just digital transformation by

  1. Ensuring policies and partnerships power an inclusive digital future
  2. Supporting national and regional building blocks for sustainable digital ecosystems
  3. Making digital financing fit for purpose with greater scale, innovation and flexibility

Development policymakers need to acknowledge that not all digital interventions lead to positive outcomes. In the digital transformation, we need to be mindful of unintended negative consequences when drawing up strategies, implementing safeguards and conducting risk assessments, the report says.

(OECD/ile) 

Read more and download the report from the OECD website 

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