Many countries have launched unprecedented relief packages to cushion the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This short review considers some initial lessons emerging from selected countries around the use of digital technology to implement these government-to-people (G2P) social transfer programs.
Following the launch of M-Pesa in 2007, Kenya has emerged as a global leader in the development of mobile money and in increasing rates of financial inclusion. This paper shows how M-Pesa’s success has led to a series of endogenous innovations that have shaped Kenya’s digital space, placing it ahead of other developing economies in the region in the deployment and use of digital technology.
Fuel Subsidy Reform and Green Taxes: Can Digital Technologies Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?
Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. The paper outlines how the use of digital technology can help accomplishing those reforms, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward.
The UK’s recently launched GOV.UK Verify service relies on a novel federated approach for digital identity verification that offers insights that will become more valuable with the spread of digital societies and economies.
Bolivia, like many other fuel producers, subsidizes the domestic consumption of energy heavily, particularly oil and natural gas. This paper estimates the magnitude of the subsidies and offers an approximate picture of their incidence by income decile.
Fuel Subsidy Reform in Developing Countries: Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG Cooking Gas Subsidy in India
India’s reform of household subsidies for the purchase of LPG cooking gas stands out for a several reasons. The paper provides a detailed picture of the reform through its various stages, including how the process was conceptualized, coordinated, and implemented. It analyzes how such a reform must be able to adapt to concerns as they arise and to new information, how digital technology was used and how it is possible to use a voluntary self-targeting “nudge” to defuse potential resistance to income-based targeting.
Increasing attention is being paid to the potential of blockchain technology to address long-standing challenges related to economic development. This paper provides a clear-eyed view of the technology’s potential in the context of development. It focuses on identifying the questions that development practitioners should be asking technologists, and challenges that innovators must address for the technology to meet its potential.
Historical data shows that large natural resource endowments have not translated into better quality of life in Sub-Saharan Africa (“Africa” for short).
Biometric identification is spreading rapidly across the developing world, where it is helping to close the “identification gap” that separates poor countries from rich ones. India’s Unique Identification (UID) project offers important lessons for other countries.