At a glance
The digital transformation is changing the way individuals, societies and states interact worldwide. The benefits of digital technologies and methods are manifold. They help to make knowledge accessible and open up opportunities for exchange, cooperation and new markets. They make the archiving, management and processing of data more efficient and transparent. In this respect, the digital trans-formation is also playing an increasingly important role in development cooperation in the various sec-tors. The promotion and dissemination of digitization is therefore an independent development policy goal, which the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is pursuing in a special way together with its partners.
At the same time, there are new challenges for development cooperation that need to be addressed. The unequal access of different population groups to information and communication technologies has created digital divides – between women and men, urban and rural areas, social classes. These population groups are at a considerable competitive disadvantage in a globalized world. In addition to the individual population, many partner countries are at the mercy of commercial and geopolitical interests in the digital realm, in some cases without countermeasures, negotiating leeway or know-how on complex special issues. Fair and sustainable offers are still lacking in many areas – for example, almost 30 African countries have no data protection legislation.
The Digital Transformation Centers address these challenges and focus on democratic and participatory processes to strengthen local structures, the economy and society. Along the BMZ Digital Strategy and its field of action of promoting local innovations, Digital Transformation Centers provide connecting structures in BMZ partner countries. Here, innovation, technical know-how, participation, IT knowledge, research and entrepreneurship are bundled. In addition, the local and regional operating centers share their experiences in a global network. This enables them to respond quickly to the continuously changing challenges in the field of digitalization in line with the demand.
Digital Transformation Centers operate with a modular structure based on the building block principle. Up to nine modules can be combined with each other, building on existing approaches and taking into account country-specific conditions. This structure enables the conception and centralized as well as decentralized implementation tailored to the needs and “digital readiness” in the partner country.
According to the vision of the Digital Transformation Centers, all modules follow the principle “Digital Inclusion by Default” to pursue the goal of addressing social issues of digital transformation, facilitating access to and use of digital technologies for marginalized groups, and reducing digital divides.
Unlike private-sector offerings, which mostly promote elites, the work of the BMZ Digital Transformation Centers focuses on promoting women and girls as well as people affected by the digital divide. The Digital Transformation Centers also work with new political partners, such as ICT and digital ministries, tech companies, and the digital ecosystem across countries to set a sustainable and broad-based course for digital transformation in partner countries.
Our goal is the sustainable strengthening of local, digital ecosystems. In doing so, a balance must be struck between social and political responsibility, ecological equilibrium and economic performance. This is the only way to enable current generations to meet their needs without endangering future generations. Digital competencies and capabilities in our partner countries must be strengthened in such a way that they can shape the digital transformation toward a sustainable society themselves.
This sustainability can only be achieved if good political, legal, social framework conditions can be created and active networks, efficient organizations and institutions, and competent individuals can be promoted. We understand digital transformation in the context of development cooperation as a collaborative learning process that brings added value for both German development cooperation and its partners. Capacity development is the key to success in this context.
To achieve this goal, the network of the BMZ Digital Transformation Centers will be continuously expanded in the coming years. Special attention will be paid to the digital ecosystem partners and their respective target groups. This aims to strengthen sustainable digital ecosystems in the BMZ partner countries. Examples of Digital Transformation Centers cooperation are the development and scaling of digital tools and digital approaches. Furthermore, they provide the civil society with information on the digital policy discourse.
Digital Transformation Centers and Fairwork
In order to counteract the precarious working conditions in the gig economy, the Digital Transformation Centers are actively involved as Fairwork supporters. Working on platforms like Uber, Diliveroo and similar generates important income for many people. However, as there is often little protection under labor law or collective institutions, many platform workers face unfair and dangerous working conditions.
As Fairwork supporters, we advocate for a transformation of the gig economy. The Fairwork project’s findings highlight the best and worst practices in the platform economy, helping to make better choices. These guidlines are reflected in our daily activities.
In doing so, we set an example and encourage other organizations to make the gig economy a fairer and safer place to work.