Digital development

The challenge:

To date, digital technologies have contributed only incremental benefits in economic, social and political development, and a step-change will be required if they are to deliver the transformational ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Given the growing embedding of the technology in all development sectors and processes, digital technology is moving from being a tool to achieve development outcomes to being the platform through which development processes are mediated.

Digital development can provide new routes out of poverty. But unless digital alternatives are developed, we risk foregoing the development benefits of new technology; entrenching new digitally-enabled systems of inequality; and enabling digital harms that damage rights and promote injustice.

How we are addressing it:

GDI has the specialist research of the Centre for Digital Development and teaching of the Human and Digital Development group.

The constancy of technological change creates knowledge gaps and a broad digital development research agenda for GDI at all stages of the innovation cycle:

  • Infrastructure: supporting systemic policy and strategic actions that develop inclusive digital ecosystems (human, technical, institutional infrastructure)
  • Innovation: supporting new digital technologies that promote the achievement of the SDGs
  • Implementation: identifying and promoting good practices in design and operationalisation of digital technology
  • Impact: tracking the emerging development implications of digital technologies at micro-, meso- and macro levels

Research Projects

Our teaching agenda:

People and publications:

Click on the names below to read their latest publications or read the latest publications from the Global Development Institute and from the Digital Development working paper series.

News and insights:

PhD Researchers and Post-Doctoral Fellows

  • Pfavai Nyajeka - Using Mobiles in Low-Income Countries For Development: Women-Led Enterprises in Zimbabwe
  • Jiaying Li - The Impact of Financial Sector Development on Total Factor Productivity in Developing Countries
  • Hao Peng- The Impact of E-learning on Chinese Elementary Students
  • Luis Rivera Illingworth - Using microdata and big data to measure the digital divide
  • Bookie Ezeomah - Digital platforms disrupting agricultural value chains in Nigeria
  • Basma Albanna - Leveraging Positive Deviance through the Use of Big Data
  • Epiphania Kimaro - ICT4D champion support as a seedbed of ICT4D leadership
  • Godfred Amankwaa - From policies to practicalities? Digitisation of urban water services in Ghana 
  • Kaiyu Xu - Using the system of innovation framework to analyse impacts of policy instruments on fintech system in China
  • Mengfei Zhou - Managing innovation ecosystems to co-create value in a service-dominant platform: multiple case studies in Chinese universities
  • Ritse Erumi - Inclusive innovation intermediaries as agents of development: the case of inclusive digital innovation targeting women entrepreneurs in East Africa
  • Xinlun Jiang - Studying the innovation ecosystem transition of IT start-ups in China: government and venture capital perspectives
  • Yue Zhai - Governance and stakeholders of smart cities: the case of “X Smart City” projects in China