Digital strategy for development policy

‘The World Bank has made it clear that we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 without the use of new technologies in development cooperation. This is the starting point for the digital strategy for development policy that has been drawn up by the Government,’ said Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup.

Today, Mr Astrup launched the first ever digital strategy for Norwegian development policy. The aim of this strategy is to achieve better results and more effective development assistance through the systematic and targeted use of digital technologies.

‘Norway is one of the world’s most digitised societies, which means that we can make an important contribution in this area. We have cutting-edge research communities, a broad range of ICT companies, and numerous examples of successful technology development. However, we have not yet fully managed to use technology to the benefit of people in the world’s poorest countries. The time has come for digital technologies to be employed for better and more effective development for the world’s poor,’ Mr Astrup said.

‘The goal of the strategy is to enable more people to live better lives and to have the opportunity to realise their dreams. If we grasp the potential inherent in new technology, developing countries can leapfrog expensive, analogue infrastructure. If we are to succeed in reaching the strategy’s goal, we must draw on the expertise of the Norwegian business sector, civil society and academia,’ said Mr Astrup.

Digital solutions can help poor countries attain higher levels of development and make it easier to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

‘Digital technologies can make an enormous difference in the lives of the world’s poor. For example, a child refugee with a mobile phone can learn to read. However, not only do the new technologies provide opportunities for developing countries, they also offer opportunities for Norwegian companies, which are well positioned to compete in the new, emerging markets,’ Mr Astrup said.

The strategy therefore places great emphasis on the involvement of the private sector, academia and civil society. 

A number of Norwegian actors are already using new technologies to promote development. Satellite data is used to monitor deforestation and natural disasters. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute is helping sister organisations in developing countries to use data for weather forecasting. The weather forecasting services and flood warnings on the website yr.no can be used by developing countries. The fertiliser company Yara has free apps for farmers wanting to identify possible nutrient deficiencies in their crops, and Telenor has used mobile technology to promote development and provide new opportunities for poor people. However, a coherent approach to the use of digital technologies in development work has so far been lacking.

‘I look forward to cooperating with Norwegian research communities on translating the strategy into meaningful action for the people who need it the most. The technological revolution has given us many new opportunities, and it is now time that we use the new technologies to achieve better results in the field of international development and more effective development assistance,’ Mr Astrup said.

Link to the strategy (in Norwegian only)

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