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.
The Network for Digital Transformation in Development Cooperation is an important step in this direction. It is the first result of the comprehensive dialog with internal, national, and international stakeholders. In this broad network between development policy, the digital economy, civil society, and academia, we will join forces in the future and together lay the foundation for a new form of digital development policy in the sign of the changing times.
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