Afghan women sit in a class and study using mobile phones in Kabul
Afghan women sit in a class and study using mobile phones in Kabul
Jawad Jalali/AFP

The Digital Opportunity

Digital technologies have transformed the ways in which we interact with businesses, governments, and each other. While much of the world has access to a basic mobile phone, the full potential for digital technologies has not yet been realized. Right now, four billion people in developing countries still do not have access to the internet, including a staggering 93 percent of households in the least developed countries. And women are, on average, 14 percent less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts. This ongoing digital divide decreases stability, reduces resiliency, and heightens the need for continued development assistance.

As part of USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab, the Center for Digital Development (CDD) works to address gaps in digital access, affordability, and advance the use of technology and advanced data analysis in development. Taking a multi-pronged approach, we leverage the resources of USAID, its implementing partners, and other actors, in three main ways:

Catalyze Inclusive Digital Economies: Leveraging multi-stakeholder alliances,we support the enabling environment that serves as a foundation for inclusive digital infrastructure and services.

Build Agency Capacity: Through a suite of technical trainings, a series of toolkits and guidance documents, and growing network of Mission-based specialists, CDD cultivates a strong community of practice around Digital Development at USAID.

Accelerate USAID Programming: we work to foster market-led innovation and integrate digital technology, advanced data and geographic analysis, and align digital development best practices into the strategic planning and design of enterprise-driven programs.

Recent Publications

Fast Facts:

  • As a co-founder of the Better Than Cash Alliance, USAID’s Digital Finance Program has helped digitize payments in over 25 countries, increasing transparency and reducing wasteful spending while expanding financial inclusion.
  • Working with USAID, the Digital Inclusion Program launched the WomenConnect Challenge with a goal of finding innovative solutions to close the digital gender divide.
  • Through YouthMappers, the GeoCenter helps create new geospatial data in support of USAID programs and empowers youth to address development challenges in their communities.
  • Following the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015, USAID’s Development Informatics Program worked to support global health by developing mHero, a communications platform that links health workers to their country’s Ministry of Health.

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Last updated: November 29, 2018

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