U.S. Global Development Lab
Center for Digital Development

Like railways and roads before it, the internet is unleashing waves of innovation and transforming the way in which businesses, consumers, and governments operate and interact with each other. The rapid growth in mobile phone ownership and mobile broadband usage is serving only to accelerate this digital revolution.

This new found access to digital information and services is empowering individuals, opening new channels for delivering more effective and scalable services from governments and the private sector, and enabling a more adaptive, data-driven approach to decision making.

The opportunity is clear, but it is not a forgone conclusion that digital technologies will benefit those who arguably stand to gain the most.

Four billion people in developing countries still don’t have access to the internet, including a staggering 93 percent of households in the least developed countries. And women are, on average, 14 percent less likely to own mobile phones than their male counterparts.

Harnessing the power of technology and the expertise of its four teams specializing in Development Informatics, Digital Finance, Digital Inclusion and Advanced Data and Geospatial Data Analysis, the U.S. Global Development Lab's Center for Digital Development works to improve the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable people throughout the world by supporting the development of an inclusive, responsible, and sustainable digital economy and the adoption of digital tools and data-driven approaches that improve development effectiveness.

 

Our Teams

 

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Digital Inclusion

The Digital Inclusion team helps bridge the digital divide by expanding access to the internet in countries where USAID works to accelerate the Agency’s development objectives and ensuring the most marginalized have the skills and resources to be active participants in the digital economy.

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Digital Finance

The Digital Finance team works to create inclusive, pro-poor financial sectors that serve the needs of governments, underserved populations, and industry, ultimately helping the world’s financially excluded and underserved populations access and use financial services that meet their needs.

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Development Informatics

The Development Informatics team seeks to make development more adaptive, efficient, and responsive to citizens and decision makers by helping transform the use of data and technology throughout development. 

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GeoCenter

The GeoCenter applies geospatial technology, creates new data and builds mapping expertise to solve international development challenges.

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News & Updates

Want to learn more about the 2017 Digital Development (Digi) awardees? Read about their projects and use of digital tools in development here!

 

Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture

Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in AgricultureSmallholder farmers are the frontlines of every developing country’s food supply. They serve as the linchpin in poverty-reduction strategies, such as Feed the Future. However, most farmers lack access to financial services and products to enable them to invest in their farms. Evidence suggests that there is a $430 billion shortfall in serving this population’s demand for finance. Farmers face a range of roadblocks in managing their farms as a business, from purchasing inputs, to accessing financial services, to storing and selling produce. Digital financial services (DFS) present a promising opportunity to address some of these pressing needs and complement USAID’s past and current portfolio of work to achieve greater impact.

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Mission Critical: Enabling Digital Payments for Development


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The world is going digital. World-wide, digital technologies are enabling the creation of cheaper, faster, safer, and increasingly ubiquitous tools to tackle intractable development challenges. As a new, global digital economy emerges, the question is no longer if the digital ecosystem is relevant to USAID’s objective to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies, but how. This USAID Opportunity Brief is a guide to help USAID and other government employees deepen their engagement with policy makers and regulators in emerging markets to advance inclusive access to affordable, convenient and safe financial products and services.

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​Fighting Ebola with Information

 

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What can be learned from the use of data, information, and digital technologies, such as mobile-based systems and internet connectivity, during the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa? What worked, what didn't, and how can we apply these lessons to improve data and information flows in the future? This report details key findings and recommendations about the collection, management, analysis, and use of paper-based and digital data and information, drawing upon the insights of more than 130 individuals and organizations who worked tirelessly to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and 2015.

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Gender and Information Communication Technology (ICT) Toolkit

 

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The Gender and ICT Survey Toolkit provides a set of resources for obtaining a landscape assessment of gender and ICT, providing implementing partners currently operating and planning on-the ground programming with practical, well researched tools they can use to obtain data on women’s access and usage of mobile phones and other connected devices. This data can be used to inform project design or create a baseline to understand the efficacy of an ICT intervention. The Toolkit instructs users on how to understand the implications of landscape assessments and apply learnings to their projects and program portfolios. It is important to note that, while this is an ICT toolkit, and references several different forms of ICTs, the primary focus is on mobile.

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Policy Guidance for Collecting Data by Geography

 

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This document will help managers and CORs/AORs/GATRs make decisions about disaggregating indicator data by geographic location, and provide information about how to collect and use the geographically disaggregated data.

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Rapid Assessment Framework: Pay-As-You-Go Solar as a Driver of Financial Inclusion

 

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This Rapid Assessment Framework is designed to guide users through an initial assessment of new markets to provide insights into where Pay-As-You-Go Solar may be a driver of financial inclusion. The framework outlines five key questions related to existing electrification, mobile money practices, and the local business environment. In addition, the framework points to several data sources to inform the each part of the assessment. While not intended to produce full market research, the framework aims to facilitate analyses of new markets in ways that highlight the opportunity to advance both off-grid electrification and financial inclusion.

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