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CGD’s work in technology and development focuses on the macroeconomic implications of technology change as well as technological applications for specific development challenges.
Technological advances are a driving force for development. But policy choices determine who benefits. CGD focuses on three key questions around innovation, growth, and inequality: How can governments use existing technologies to deliver services more effectively to citizens? How can international institutions help create and spread new technologies to tackle shared problems like climate change and pandemics? And how can policymakers ensure advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and communications bring shared benefits and not greater global inequality?
India has emerged as a leader in building on its biometric digital ID to reform service and program delivery. It moved quickly to consolidate the rollout of Aadhaar, and then to embed the unique Aadhaar number into program databases. A range of applications, including digital signature and payments, was then constructed on top of the Aadhaar foundation (the India Stack). Together with partners, the Center for Global Development is analyzing the effects of Aadhaar-based reforms. The three programs we discuss below highlight achievements as well as challenges that need to be overcome for greater efficiency and inclusion.
Please join the Center for Global Development for this conversation with Devex’s president & editor-in-chief, Raj Kumar, to discuss his book The Business of Changing the World, which has been called the 'go to primer' on the people, ideas and tech disrupting the aid industry. Caroline Atkinson, former head of global policy at Google, will moderate the conversation on how nontraditional models of philanthropy and aid are empowering the world's poorest people to make progress.
One of the questions reportedly from the Presidential transition team to the State Department was: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?” During the nomination hearings for Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Senator Rand Paul provided one answer: seventy percent of aid is “stolen off the top.” The question is a fair one to ask. The bad news is that the short answer is “we don’t know.” The better news is that the slightly longer answer is “nowhere near 70 percent.” And the best news is that if we spent more time tracking the results of aid projects, we’d have a much better idea of where corruption was a problem and if our efforts to reduce it were working.
The authors argue that many reform initiatives in developing countries fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because they are merely isomorphic mimicry. They present a new framework for breaking out of capability traps.
Tariq Malik, former chairman, National Database and Registration Authority, Pakistan
Pakistan is a leader in the application of identification systems and technology to a range of development issues. The National Database and Registration
Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan has become a central player in a number of program areas and has been internationally recognized for its expertise, including
winning many awards for excellence.
“This important book sets a sensible and specific way forward. It should be read by all involved in economic development and international action on climate change.”
—Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review
This paper surveys 160 cases where biometric identification has been used for economic, political, and social purposes in developing countries. One primary conclusion is that identification should be considered as a component of development policy, rather than being seen as just a cost on a program-by-program basis.