How does the digital transformation affect development cooperation and politics?
The presence of digital technology in all aspects of human society is rapidly changing the way individuals, organizations, businesses, governments, and cultures interact.
Digital tools can lead to greater efficiency in institutional efforts to provide public and collective services, including by facilitating exchanges and collaboration across long distances, but they also create new challenges and risks. Digitalisation will change the global economic division of labour and working conditions around the globe. Social media acts as an important resource for popular mobilization against regimes; yet, it can also be used by those same regimes to target dissidents and wage information warfare. Trade policy 4.0 offers the chance to make globalisation more participative and inclusive – but so far much potential goes untapped. Technologies like blockchain could provide low-income individuals with easier access to the financial system, but technical factors like energy demands and digital security are still a large hurdle for development actors to overcome. In areas such as climate change mitigation, new technologies offer opportunities to rethink how we power our homes and economies, but governments struggle to develop equally forward-looking energy policies.
The tension between our digital potential and current politics and procedures poses opportunities and challenges to development policy and cooperation. The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) addresses this tension through innovative, policy-relevant research.