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CGD in the News

February 6, 2019

Spread of China’s State-Controlled Internet Model Raises Concerns (The Epoch Times)

From the article:

China’s censorship-enabled internet model is spreading beyond its borders, at a time when more and more people in the world are gaining access to the internet, according to a new report.

Michael Pisa, a policy fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) and former senior adviser to the U.S. undersecretary for international affairs in the Department of the Treasury, published a Feb. 5 report on worrying developments as the internet becomes more readily available to developing countries.

While the number of internet users around the world increased to more than 3 billion in 2015 from 1 billion in 2005, the report pointed out that “today, more than 65 percent of the roughly four billion people in the world without internet access live in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $3,895 a year.”

Facebook and Google, in particular, have made inroads in developing nations. Facebook now has 2.3 billion monthly active users who live in Africa and Asia, while Google operates domains in about 200 countries and territories, with an estimated global market share of up to 92 percent.

In addition, more than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google’s Android operating system, according to the report.

But a more pressing concern is that those countries could be attracted to China’s restrictive internet model. “An increasing number of governments have shown an interest in adopting China’s authoritarian [internet] model, which uses digital tools to support surveillance and stifle dissent—and Chinese officials appear eager to share their expertise,” the report stated.

Chinese officials have taken active steps to spread its model overseas. The CGD report, citing a 2018 report by U.S.-based independent watchdog Freedom House, said that in 2018, “Beijing took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings of foreign officials [from at least 36 countries], providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations, even when operating outside of China.”


The demand by governments such as India and Vietnam for “data localization,” a policy pioneered by China that requires international companies to store data in local servers, is also a concern, given that it will “raise the cost of doing cross-border business,” the CGD report stated. It also questioned the validity of a cybersecurity claim for having such policies.

August 9, 2018

Podcast: Which technologies are helping development? (CDC Group)

The potential of technology in supporting development is huge.

We’ve already seen that, particularly through examples such as mobile money and off-grid solar systems, which have been adopted by millions of people in developing countries and are used every day.

So, where else are companies using technology to help development? In this podcast, we look at examples across a range of different sectors, from education to gas and services. We also get an understanding of the potential limitations of technology by speaking to an academic who has concerns over the impact blockchain might have on development.

This episode features interviews with:

Fausto Marcigot, Chief Technology Officer, PayGo Energy Adam Grunewald, CEO, Lynk Adesuwa Ifedi, Vice President, Policy and Partnership, Bridge Academies Michael Pisa, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development

Listen to the podcast here.

May 24, 2018

Blockchain For Social Good Hype Requires 'Recalibration,' Ex-Treasury Official Argues (Forbes)

From the article:

Blockchain technology has generated enormous buzz in the international development community recently, being touted as an elixir to the thorny issues that economic theorists and World Bank technocrats have trudged away at for decades. 
Whether it’s solving climate change, curing poverty or bringing financial inclusion and digital identities to billions -  no problem is so great that it can’t be tamed by the blockchain, the narrative goes. 
But Michael Pisa, a fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., argues that while blockchain offers the development community an important and powerful new tool, a never-ending echo chamber of hype and unrealistic expectations aren’t going to help anybody. 
In a forthcoming essay for CGD, Pisa calls on the blockchain for social impact community to “recalibrate” its expectations of what the technology can and can’t do, to direct focus toward the use cases that offer the most true potential and to deploy greater efforts toward overcoming the substantial barriers to adoption that still exist even in the low-hanging fruit areas. 

Read the full article here

January 18, 2018

Bitcoin Mining's Energy Use Won't Eat The World -- If Prices Stay Below 19% Annual Growth (Forbes)

From the article:

...stepping back to consider how Bitcoin works helps explain these effects of the crypto-currency phenomenon.  Bitcoin is a distributed encrypted ledger list consisting of data blocks (the blockchain), each about 1 megabyte in size.  To extend the blockchain, a miner (or a pool of miners) solves a difficult computation with computers.  The first one to crack a given problem gets to add the next block to the chain and collect revenues for processing transactions into that block; if validated they also get a fixed number of Bitcoins.  This is the “proof-of-work” scheme for allocating new Bitcoins.  Today that amount is 12.5 Bitcoins per block, but it gets halved every 210,000 blocks (this explains why only about 16 million Bitcoins will ever exist).  The Bitcoin code is set up to create about one block every ten minutes by adjusting the difficulty of mining as a function of the overall network rate.

Read full article here.

July 31, 2017

New Initiative Aims to Deliver on the Promise of Blockchain for Identity (Devex)

From the article:

The key constraints to blockchain moving forward will extend beyond the scope of technology, reads a report released by the Center for Global Development earlier this month.

“For blockchain-based solutions to reach their full potential in this space, governments and development organizations first need to take steps that they have often resisted in the past,” reads the report. “The good news is that excitement about the technology has already generated more interest (and investment) by some of these organizations in addressing these underlying challenges.”

Read full article here.

July 31, 2017

Aid & Development Links: Rohinyga Asylum Seekers, Blockchain Tech Potential and More (The Lowy Institute)

From the article:

Michael Pisa and Matt Juden discuss how Blockchain Technology can be harnessed for development, and what impediments remain in the way.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde sat down with Masood Ahmed at the Centre for Global Development to discuss the most pressing global economic challenges. Video here.


Read full article here.

July 20, 2017

Non-Profits See Blockchain Vision, But Face Harsh Realities (Coindesk)

From the article:

Although Wall Street pundits and big bank proofs-of-concept often steal the bulk of the attention, they're not the only global groups with an interest in blockchain technology.

In fact, behind the scenes, the world's largest and most influential non-profits and multilateral organizations are turning to blockchain solutions as a way to improve social and economic outcomes in the developing world...

"Everyone is kind of in the same place in the development community: everyone wants to be on the cutting edge, but they’re making what can be life or death decisions in terms of aid distribution, so they have to get these things right,” said Michael Pisa, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.

The author of a soon-to-be-released research paper on how development organizations should be approaching blockchain, Pisa highlights the multiplicity of use cases for blockchain as a development tool.

These include how it could be applied to aid disbursement, international payments, digital identity and property rights, but he argues that a premature utilization of the technology could have adverse consequences.

Read full article here.