UK Technology Pledge to Help World’s Poorest
21 November 2012 at 12:09 pm
Justine Greening speaking at the DFID/Omidyar Network Open Up! conference in London. Some rights reserved by DFID UK.
The UK Government has pledged to give millions of the world’s poorest the power to improve their lives through mobile technology.
The UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening made the pledge at the recent Open Up! Conference in London.
Speaking at the conference hosted by philanthropic Investment firm, the Omidyar Network and the UK Government, Greening explained that Britain will help six million of the world’s poorest people to benefit from innovative new projects across Africa and Asia.
Greening committed to use mobile and internet technology to make governments more effective and transparent and help the poorest to have a say in the future of aid.
“With more than a thousand new mobile connections every minute in the developing world, we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure the voices of the poorest are heard. Mobile and web technology has the power to transform lives and improve the way governments work, but too often it has been overlooked.
“I am determined to use Britain’s aid to help citizens have a say in their future, speak up when they face crime or incompetence and make it easier to trade and grow businesses.”
The UN estimates that 80 million people across the world have no access to an electrical grid but use a mobile.
Stephen King, from the Omidyar Network said: “Responsive and accountable government requires openness and an engaged citizenry.
“At stake are greater accountability of government to its citizens, improved service delivery, and economic growth and prosperity.”
Greening said Britain will promote mobile and internet technology by:
- Helping the poorest to decide their future: Working with the UN, mobile technology company Kirusa and others, DFID will support MyWorld – a mobile survey to allow at least two million in the poorest countries to have a direct say in the future of international aid through their mobile phones.
- Making aid more transparent: Britain will launch a new Open Aid Information Platform to allow anyone to trace spending from Whitehall down to specific aid projects on the ground across the developing world.
- Helping poor countries to harness the power of the internet: Working with the World Wide Web Foundation, Britain will help to close the ‘digital divide’ by researching internet use in poor countries and provide a solid evidence base to find new ways to use the power of the web to improve the lives of the poorest.
- Kick-starting innovative new tech ideas: Britain will launch a new partnership to help six million people in the poorest countries to benefit from new technology. Making All Voices Count is collaboration between DFID, Omidyar Network, USAID and the Sweden Government to spot innovative ideas and make them work. All software devised through this programme will be open source, allowing others to use and adapt it as necessary.
- Fight corruption and improve services: Britain will help the people of Pakistan to report poor performing or corrupt local officials direct to senior Ministers through their mobile phones. Every citizen who contacts the Punjab province’s local government, tax office, police, health or education services will receive free automated calls or text messages where they can report if they were forced to pay a bribe or experienced bad customer service. During a three-year pilot, several corrupt officials were suspended or sacked.
The UK and Indonesia are currently co-chairs of the Open Government Partnership, a global effort to make governments more transparent, effective and accountable.