Svenja Schulze

Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

Climate change, the corona pandemic, and the war of aggression on Ukraine with its consequences for food and energy supply are clear reminders: the challenges of our time mark a turning point, also in international cooperation. Digitization can help us better manage these global crises: Pandemics can be tracked and contained through digital epidemic management systems. Digital identities and electronic money transfers enable states to provide their populations with basic services – and also to respond quickly in emergencies. Artificial intelligence can help in the fight against climate change to recognize impending droughts or extreme weather in good time and prepare for them.

Our approach is also to shape digital transformation with our partner countries in a fair and sustainable way. In this way, both sides can leverage their potential and also catch up digitally.

Around five billion people worldwide use the Internet. However, more than one-third of the world’s population remains cut off from the social and economic advances that come with digitization – women and girls are particularly affected.

German development policy advocates an international digital policy that seeks to balance interests and is underpinned by European standards. In this way, we provide a genuine alternative to the offerings of autocracies. Our guiding principle is a social-ecological digital transformation that gives our partner countries sovereignty over the most important resource of the digital age: their data.  Our offering does not lead to new dependencies but is intended to reduce existing dependencies on commercial software, for example. We, therefore, offer our partner countries solutions that benefit both sides – for example, with digital public goods.

I look forward to working with you and invite you to learn more about the contribution of development cooperation to the German government’s international digital policy and the actors involved.

Yours, Svenja Schulze

Working together for a fair and sustainable digital transformation

Digitalisation can help us to better manage global crises: Pandemics can be tracked and contained using digital systems. Digital identities and electronic money transfers enable countries to provide financial support for their populations – and to react quickly in emergencies. In the fight against climate change, artificial intelligence can help to recognise impending droughts or extreme weather in good time and develop new solutions.

Digital technologies are also changing the way we live, do business and communicate with each other – and they are a powerful lever for realising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The United Nations estimates that data and digital technologies play a crucial role in achieving at least 70 per cent of the 169 SDG goals. To date, 37 per cent of the world’s population, especially women and girls, have no internet access. German development cooperation aims to reduce these inequalities and access barriers – the so-called “digital divide”. The most important goal is to close the digital divide between the sexes: Only three out of ten women in the least developed countries, for example, have access to the internet. This means that they are also cut off from the opportunities of the digital transformation: access to knowledge, education, jobs and financial services.

We must also face up to the risks of digitalisation: Unequal access to digital technologies has a negative impact on the economic development of entire countries, regions and social groups. And digitalisation is already causing as much CO2 emissions as all air traffic worldwide, and the trend is rising – partly due to energy-hungry artificial intelligence. AI has the potential for ground-breaking changes as well as risks and dangers that are still hard to foresee: in the wrong hands, AI can shake democracies to their foundations and give autocrats a free hand for disinformation and manipulation. As the BMZ, we therefore have a duty to help shape a technology now in the interests of our partner countries that is perhaps more disruptive than anything we have seen before.

We can only do this by further strengthening and supporting our partner countries on their path to digital transformation and making them offers that build on our European values.

Our goals

As German development policy makers, we are committed to an international digital politics that enables a fair balance of interests based on European standards and universal human rights. We involve our partner countries in a globally open, secure and inclusive internet and fair data markets and consciously distance ourselves from both a purely state-centred model as well as a purely market-centred model.

Our commitment is closely aligned with the priorities of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The focus is on using the potential of digitalisation and data to reduce poverty and hunger worldwide. In doing so, we combine green and digital transformation – for example by converting energy-intensive data centres into sustainable, green data centres with a neutral carbon footprint.

Reduce hunger and poverty

Using the potential of digitalisation and data to reduce poverty

Promote a just transition

Making digital transformation greener and using digital tools for more climate protection

Combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences

Overcoming pandemics and strengthening healthcare systems with data and digital eHealth applications

Establish a feminist development policy

Closing digital gender gaps

Digital solutions can also make a contribution in the healthcare sector: Their targeted use makes it easier to prevent or control the spread of diseases and enables inclusive medical care for people in remote regions.

With our commitment, we also want to make an important contribution to feminist development policy: digital learning opportunities for girls, women and other marginalised groups should reduce the gender digital divide.

Anyone who wants to shape the digital transformation must live it themselves. That is why we at the BMZ are leading by example: we are strengthening data expertise at the BMZ and expanding our database to enable us to make evidence-based policy decisions. We are also modernising the flow of information with implementing organisations, funding recipients and partner organisations.

Our implementation

In order to achieve the greatest impact, we have clearly defined the digital policy areas of action in which German development policy wants to set priorities. The BMZ implements political initiatives in these fields of action that support partner countries in achieving their digital development goals:

Fair Regulations

The BMZ supports international regulations and capacity building in partner countries that exploit the potential of digital technologies for the benefit of all – while minimizing potential risks. An important step is the development of appropriate regulatory provisions for the digital space.

Digital Skills

The BMZ is paying particular attention to improving digital skills along the entire education chain and access to IT infrastructure as a prerequisite for exploiting the opportunities of digitalization.

Digital public goods and infrastructure

In order to promote the digital sovereignty of states, economy and society, the BMZ is strengthening open source solutions, uniform standards and digital solutions that are compatible with each other. In this way, we contribute to the development of a secure and sustainable digital infrastructure in countries of the Global South.

To ensure a uniform approach with our national and international partners, we are joining forces in the European multi-stakeholder platform D4D-Hub and in our [] network.



We have created a physical venue for networking – the digilab. We regularly bring stakeholders and partners together for a cooperative exchange in these modern premises.

Image 1/3: Webinar with Members of the German Bundestag Armand Zorn and Tobias Bacherle at digilab
Image 2/3: The techDetector offers a strategic and analytical assessment of innovative technologies and their potential relevance for sustainable development.
Image 3/3: The network regularly organises discussion and exchange formats.

Together with our partners, we want to exploit the enormous opportunities of digitalisation and prevent the risks. In doing so, we are primarily guided by the sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. At the same time, the Strategy for an International Digital Policy of the Federal Government serves as a compass for shaping digitalisation worldwide.

In our concrete planning and implementation of effective digital approaches, we are guided by the Principles for Digital Development, which are based on the broad experience of international development partners. The aim is to design digital solutions that are sustainable and people-oriented.

Our solutions at a glance

On our dialog platform, we present the digital policy measures of the BMZ and the broad digital policy partner network – in articles, success stories and current news. We want to pool our strengths, present our joint work for the global digital transformation and invite you to get involved. Find out more about our polical initiatives here:


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