We all live in the digital age. No matter whether in South Sudan or the Philippines – digital technologies influence the everyday life in developing countries as well as in Europe. Some people might use simple coding programs like Scratch, to convey digital skills without Internet access. Others might order a Tuk Tuk via Uber. At the same time, digital technologies are used to keep human rights defenders under surveillance or to manipulate elections through Internet shutdowns, as it occurred in Cameroon.
The digital transformation is full of controversies, digital divides and (in the global North) cat videos. However, it is also full of ideas, ideals and innovations. Many of these digital innovations originate from Africa, Asia or Latin America and are already conquering the world. Ranging from a digital payment systems like M-Pesa to drones that deliver medicine and banked blood. In this regard, Europe can learn from countries such as Rwanda, where solutions like these are already being applied.
We want to harness the potential of digital technologies together with our local partners in order to solve the world’s most urgent challenges. We stand for Tech for Good! We want to use digital technologies to include the poorest of the poor and to leave no one behind, to decrease the digital divides and not to worsen them. We want to promote futureproof opportunities of employment and make information, knowledge and public services more accessible in developing countries!
But how? We live in a connected world. All of us need to ensure that the Internet and digital technologies are used for good.
As the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) we already utilize digital technologies in our projects – from simple apps for pest detection on plants in Tunisia to the use of Internet of Things solutions in order to generate reliable weather data and hence to contribute to the prevention of food shortages. Simultaneously we want to include people from developing countries more into the global debates on digital topics and issues. Not everyone is part of the conversation yet.
Hence, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development fosters nine sessions within the Topic Tech for Good and hosts three sessions. We want to make the voices heard especially of speakers from developing countries, display innovations created in developing countries and present various use cases of digital technologies. Under the umbrella of the Tech for Good topic, a diverse and exciting set of topics will be discussed –for instance, digital skills for women and girls, using data for development, community-based Internet access, cyber security, maker movement and blockchain.
The digital transformation is full of opportunities and controversies. That is why – Tech for Good! Cat videos alone won’t do it.