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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?
How do you give over a billion people a digital ID within five years? How do you improve learning for 200 million children in India and countless millions worldwide within a decade? How do you improve health outcomes for billions of poor people and achieve the goals of Universal Health Coverage within a generation? How do you solve the world’s most pressing challenges, not incrementally, but with the urgency they demand?
As the evidence of mobile money’s ability to improve financial access continues to grow, some in the development community are exploring whether a new wave of digital innovation, including digital currencies and blockchain technology, can play a similar role. To date, however, only a small number of start-ups using these technologies have been able to develop profitable business models, while others have struggled to overcome some of the same hurdles faced by more traditional financial actors. For this reason, some are skeptical that these new technologies will significantly improve financial inclusion. This event, which is co-hosted by the Center for Global Development and World Bank’s Blockchain Lab, will bring together policy experts working on the forefront of financial inclusion and technology, along with the CEO of BitPesa, a company that uses blockchain technology to facilitate payments between Africa and the rest of the world. The panel will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing start-ups seeking to use blockchain technology to expand financial access in emerging and frontier markets. CGD Policy Fellow Michael Pisa will moderate the discussion.
Transactional sex (sex for money) is a common risk-coping behavior in sub-Saharan Africa and is believed to be a leading driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In her upcoming paper, Kelly Jones and her coauthors examine whether access to precautionary savings can mitigate the use of transactional sex as a response to negative shocks. In a field experiment in Kenya, half of the over 600 vulnerable women participants were randomly assigned a savings intervention that consists of opening a mobile banking savings account labeled for emergency expenses and individual goals. They find that the intervention led to an increase in total mobile savings, reductions in transactional sex as a risk-coping response to shocks, and a decrease in symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.
Global Burden of Disease (GBD) country rankings can strengthen the case of advocates at global and national levels for prioritising investment towards the major drivers of mortality and morbidity. But as discussed in our earlier blog post, when it comes to informing specific investment cases within these broader priorities, GBD data alone are not enough to allow consideration of trade-offs and of opportunity costs of alternative investment choices addressing the same problem. The next step in using data to trigger action ought to be the generation, in conjunction with domestic stakeholders, of what we call below “super-local data.”
Earlier this month, the first analysis of countries’ progress towards attaining the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was published in the Lancet. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) used Global Burden of Disease Data (GBD 2016) to create an index for 37 (out of 50) health-related SDG indicators between 1990–2016, for a total of 188 countries. Based on the pace of change recorded over the past 25 years or so, the researchers then projected the indicators to 2030. The punchline: if past is prologue, the median number of SDG targets attained in 2030 will be five of the 24 defined targets currently measured. Not very inspiring.
Germans have given Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term as chancellor, but once again without a parliamentary majority. It seems likely that Merkel will now try to negotiate a black-green-yellow “Jamaica coalition” (referring to the parties’ colors) with the Greens and the pro-business Liberals replacing the Social Democrats as coalition partners. Despite the gain in vote for nationalists, our analysis suggests the Jamaica coalition could actually strengthen Germany’s role in accelerating global development, as well as benefitting Germany.
In recent years, regulators have raised their expectations for what counts as adequate AML/CFT compliance. At the same time, they have cracked down on institutions that have fallen short. While arguably necessary, this more stringent enforcement has produced some unintended side effects. In particular, it has put pressure on banks’ ability and willingness to deliver certain types of services, notably correspondent banking services.