Lee Robinson, Euan Ritchie, and Charles Kenny explore how the UK can heighten its R&D official development assistance spend.
This paper outlines the broad rationale for approaches beyond patents to support the development of technologies specifically useful to developing countries and the role for aid-funded approaches within that
This paper examines the impact of Ukraine’s ambitious procurement reform on outcomes amongst a set of procurements that used competitive tendering. This paper examines the impact of ProZorro and reform on contracts that were procured competitively both prior to and after the introduction of the new system. It finds some evidence of impact of the new system on increasing the number of bidders, cost savings, and reduced contracting times.
How much innovation will be needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Our results suggest that (i) best performers are considerably outperforming the average performance at a given income level, suggesting considerable progress could be achieved through policy change but that (ii) the targets set in the SDGs are unlikely to be met by 2030 without very rapid, ubiquitous technological progress alongside economic growth.
Just as the evidence suggests that a more gender-inclusive political system may lead to better policies for women and girls and integrating women into corporate boards may mean reaching new consumers, there is a case to be made for increasing women’s presence in developing technology and innovation. Incorporating more women into technology sectors is likely to 1) increase productivity, 2) offers women a source of high-quality jobs, and 3) may have knock-on benefits for female consumers of technology, whose needs are more likely to be taken into account.
Funding the global public good of technology is a useful way for donors to leverage the impact of their aid. Different types of technologies appear to be important to development progress, and to spread, in different ways. ‘Lab coat technologies’ (inventions) spread easily and improve quality of life, ‘process technologies’ (institutions) spread with difficulty and are important to economic growth. For all donor interventions, however, it appears that context matters—the same technology or investment has varied impact in different environments. Donors should take the importance of context on board when designing their technology interventions.
This paper focuses on invented or created technologies of the type that could (theoretically) be subject to patents and the potential for international agreements including the Addis Financing Conference to better create and share such technologies.
Overselling Broadband: A Critique of the Recommendation of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is an ITU (UN International Telecommunications Union) and UNESCO–backed body set up to advocate for greater broadband access worldwide. The commission’s Declaration of Broadband Inclusion for All and other reports call for governments to support ubiquitous fixed broadband access as a vital tool for economic growth and to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Examining the evidence, however, shows that the benefits of broadband are being oversold. Several points stand out: (i) the evidence for a large positive economic impact of broadband is limited; (ii) the impact of broadband rollout on achieving the MDGs would be marginal;(iii) there is little evidence ubiquitous broadband is needed for ‘national competitiveness’ or to benefit from opportunities like business process outsourcing; (iv) the costs of fixed universal broadband rollout dwarf available resources in developing countries; (and so) (v) the case for government subsidy of fixed broadband rollout is very weak. There are, however, some worthwhile policy reforms that could speed broadband rollout without demanding significant government expenditure.
Charles Kenny investigates the complex role development agencies have in promoting technology overseas.
The Best Things in Life are (Nearly) Free: Technology, Knowledge and Global Health - Working Paper 252
In this paper, background to Kenny’s book Getting Better, the authors investigate the cross-country determinants of health improvements and describe the implications for development policy.
In his latest essay, Charles Kenny seeks to revive Solow's model of exogenous growth; growth driven by the global diffusion of new technologies and ideas. He suggests that when it comes to quality of life improvements, institutions may be less important than exogenous factors, like new vaccines, oral re-hydration therapies, or improvements in hygiene and education practices.