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Mobilizing Technology for Development

Chapter 2 | Harnessing DTT for Development: Key Bank Group Enablers and Links with the Twin Goals


Key World Bank Group Enablers

The Bank Group’s traditional areas of strength, such as its support for global public goods including development data, honest broker role, production of quality advisory services and analytics, and ability to mobilize International Development Association resources and trust funds, have enabled its support for disruptive and transformative technologies for development.

Links between Two Bank Group Disruptive and Transformative Technology Corporate Priorities and the Twin Goals

Country Diagnostics

The Bank Group has given increased attention to digital economy issues in a few recent country diagnostics and strategies. However, the Country Partnership Frameworks are not always informed by the digital economy findings in the Systematic Country Diagnostics, and there has also been insufficient effort in the latter in linking the support for digital technologies to the broader development agenda, including the twin goals (for example, when identifying key constraints). Furthermore, the newly introduced digital economy diagnostics do not adequately address issues of poverty and inclusion.

Skills and Capabilities for the New Economy and the Role of Education

The Bank Group’s top corporate initiatives in education—the Human Capital Project and the Learning Poverty initiative—spotlight “necessary” skills, such as literacy and numeracy. The Bank Group has an opportunity to move the narrative forward from necessary skills to also include twenty-first century “sufficient” skills, such as advanced cognitive skills, digital literacy, and socioemotional skills, in particular a growth mindset or the ability to “learn to learn” and adapt. Both necessary and sufficient skills are critical for ensuring that a workforce is well prepared for the future labor market.

Key Enablers of the Bank Group’s DTT Support

The Bank Group’s comparative strength on global public goods has enabled its DTT support. The Bank Group is well positioned to provide leadership on global public goods using a mix of knowledge, financing, and technology. It has created an important niche in global public goods through which it is increasingly deploying DTT (Kanbur 2017). For example, it is applying digital technologies to regulatory harmonization through the Single Digital Market for East Africa. It is also using new technological tools, such as machine learning, to predict the onset of famines and the displacement of populations resulting from food shortages and conflicts, for example through the Famine Action Mechanism, a global partnership, discussed in appendix G. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, also a global partnership, enables DTT support through open-source technology and geospatial data-sharing platforms to help people worldwide gain access to risk information.1 In addition, IFC has aimed to be a thought leader in applying technologies to development, with initiatives such as the Investor Guidelines for Responsible Investing Digital Financial Services (IFC 2017a), reports such as How Technology Creates Markets (IFC 2018), recent analytical work on DTT and COVID-19, and several global upstream platforms (which, given their recent introduction, have not been evaluated for this report).

The Bank Group has established an international reputation in development data, a global public good, which has enabled its DTT support. As the demand for development data increases, new technological developments are revolutionizing data production, analysis, and use. For example, the internet of things and social media are contributing to an explosion in the quantity of data for machine learning and AI and are improving the quality of insights from those data. The Bank Group is helping clients take advantage of these opportunities through innovative data initiatives such as the Geospatial Operations Support Team, GEMS, and the Development Data Partnership (formerly Data Collaboratives). Appendix D discusses these initiatives.

The Bank Group is an honest broker between the public and private sectors, which has also enabled its DTT support. The Bank Group’s perceived neutrality with regard to technology solutions, reputation among global technology players, access to international technological knowledge (academic and other), and seat at the government table underpin its role as an honest broker (Kanbur 2017; Skoll World Forum 2013). In particular, the Bank Group’s honest broker role in providing clients with technical expertise, especially on policy and regulatory matters related to DTT support, was highlighted by Bank Group staff working on digital connectivity and the GovTech Global Initiative who were interviewed for this evaluation. The Bank Group leverages regulatory reform as it expands connectivity infrastructure in lower-income countries and uses its honest broker role to help countries address privacy and other risks. For example, the 2017 Uruguay Improving Service Delivery to Citizens and Businesses through e-Government project aims to address DTT risks by issuing guidelines for data architecture platforms on governance structures, security tools, and data privacy protocols. Interviews with clients for IFC projects in Nicaragua and Turkey indicated that they appreciated IFC’s knowledge about technology, long-term focus, and ability to connect clients with the right vendors. However, clients also noted ways in which the Bank Group’s honest broker role may be compromised: (i) lengthy bureaucratic processes, especially in procurement (for example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, and Turkey); (ii) lack of understanding of local context and technology, as well as poor coordination, especially in fragility, conflict, and violence contexts (for example, the Central African Republic and Somalia); and (iii) staff who are not trained in the latest technology that clients demand (for example, in Vietnam).

In addition, the Bank Group has leveraged its honest broker role to adopt a problem-driven approach in the Identification for Development (ID4D) program. The Bank Group has raised awareness about and encouraged foundational ID systems because they can help more efficiently deliver multiple services (such as social protection and taxation) through interoperable systems, although foundational ID systems carry risks (see the Building on the Bank Group’s Existing Strengths section in chapter 6). The ID4D program aims to address long-standing challenges in targeting the right beneficiaries—digitizing unified social registries can reduce the likelihood of inefficiencies in transfers, for example. Appendix I lists key ID4D activities within the World Bank, and box 2.1 presents lessons from the Bank Group’s experience with ID4D on meeting development challenges and the operational needs of clients by taking advantage of the opportunities created by digital solutions.

Box 2.1. Lessons from Identification for Development

Adoption and scaling of digital technologies work well when the operational needs of clients identified by the Global Practices converge with the opportunities created by digital and technological solutions. This appears to have been achieved, for example, in the case of the World Bank Group’s support for the Identification for Development program. The Bank Group has been well positioned to provide its borrowers (where there is demand) with the knowledge and technical assistance to develop or upgrade existing identification systems that can enable delivery of a wide range of social and e-governance services.

Leadership support for Identification for Development has been important. The Jobs and Social Protection Global Practice and the Governance Global Practice were at least partly responsible for developing services that demonstrated the immediate value of improved identification to governments (for safety nets, conditional cash transfers, and government-to-person salaries and pensions), which generated client interest in foundational ID systems. Important for effectiveness has been the flexibility in sequencing the various interventions and services that are digitized and in establishing the links to foundational ID systems when the opportunity and demand arises among country clients.

Source: Independent Evaluation Group interviews.

The Bank Group’s DTT support has been enabled by its ability to undertake quality ASA. Bank Group interviewees reported that ASA place the Bank Group at the cutting edge for supporting clients with the needed actionable recommendations to ensure a firm footing for their digital economies. For example, ASA for the Kyrgyz Republic in the wake of the 1990s telecom reforms highlighted the need to move from a fragmented to a consolidated regulatory framework and focused on regional connectivity, attracting private investment, and building up the demand side (for example, data centers, digital platforms, identification systems, and cybersecurity). Another example of ASA that can enable World Bank support to DTT is the forthcoming ASA The Converging Technology Revolution and Human Capital: Potential and Implications for South Asia (Bashir and others, forthcoming), which assesses what the World Bank can do to further build, protect, deploy, and empower human capital in the South Asia Region.

The World Bank’s ability to mobilize IDA grants, credits, and trust funds has enabled its DTT support. IDA financing facilitated open access to all providers in the Benin telecom sector as part of the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program, making the sector more competitive and potentially enabling Benin to market excess capacity to neighboring landlocked countries. Trust funds, which offer more flexibility, are a frequent and popular source of financing for DTT, especially for innovative and risky projects, such as those in fintech and digital entrepreneurship. In the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project, local start-ups were not producing what local industry needed. Using trust funds, the World Bank launched a competition among the start-ups; the winner would work with an agricultural company on concrete solutions. This helped the World Bank team to better understand local issues such as intellectual property rights. Going forward, the World Bank would benefit from monitoring whether its financing for DTT relies too heavily on trust funds, affecting budget predictability or skewing organizational priorities toward what trust fund donors want.

IFC’s Disruptive Technologies and Funds department is working with both start-ups and established companies to support innovation in developing countries. IFC seeks to support entrepreneurship ecosystems in developing countries. IFC’s investments cover a broad spectrum of disruptive technologies, including fintech (BKash in Bangladesh and GoPay in Indonesia), e-commerce (Twiga in Kenya and TradeDepot across Africa), e-logistics (Kobo360, a digital platform connecting truck drivers with freight companies, initially in Nigeria), and HealthTech (Clinicas Azucar in Mexico). IFC advisory services have similarly supported the DTT agenda. For instance, through its Digital2Equal initiative, in close partnership with the European Commission, IFC has sought to bring together technology companies to promote opportunities for women in expanding access to jobs, assets, and business across online platforms.

Links between the Bank Group’s DTT Support Relating to Two Corporate Priorities and the Twin Goals

These links were assessed for two of the five Bank Group DTT corporate priorities, noting that all DTT corporate priorities are relevant for achieving the twin goals: (i) country diagnostics that help chart the new drivers of growth (corporate priority 1) and (ii) skills and capabilities for the new economy (corporate priority 5) and the role of education.2 The corporate priority of country diagnostics was selected because it can provide a basis for designing country level (rather than ad hoc) DTT support for addressing the twin goals. The country priority of skills and capabilities for the new economy and the role of education was selected because it is a powerful driver of development, and education is one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and inequality.3

Country Diagnostics

Core country diagnostics such as SCDs, the newly introduced digital economy diagnostics, and ASA can help the Bank Group identify potential DTT opportunities and risks. Even when there is no specific client demand for such an identification, these diagnostics can allow the Bank Group to effectively exercise selectivity in programming and to nudge the client toward greater focus on the role DTT can play to further country development agendas and the risks such technologies may present.

The Bank Group has begun to address the digital economy in its country diagnostics (in SCDs) and strategies (in CPFs). The Mainstreaming paper referenced the digital economy discussion in the CPF for Morocco and the SCDs for Poland and Senegal (World Bank 2017b, 2018e, 2019h, 2019i). This evaluation found that both the Morocco and Senegal CPFs addressed the digital economy gaps identified in their respective SCDs. Digital technologies referenced in the Morocco CPF were linked to financial inclusion, social protection, and environmental sustainability of agrifood value chains (World Bank 2019i, 23, 26, 33, 35). The SCD had noted the nascent stage of digital payments in Morocco, highlighting that better access to a diversity of financial services, including digital payments, would help vulnerable households manage emergencies, build up assets, and invest in health and education (World Bank 2018c, 20). Similarly, the 2020 Senegal CPF, following up on the findings of the SCD, highlighted the transformative role that digital technologies could play in education, digitizing commercial and financial transactions in the agriculture sector, and improving the transparency and efficiency of delivery mechanisms in social protection (World Bank 2020c, 28).The Senegal SCD had noted that many vulnerable people had difficulty accessing basic services and acquiring the necessary skills in school, such as lifelong learning or technical and soft skills (World Bank 2018e, 101). By contrast, the Poland CPF did not mention the digital economy, even though the Poland SCD had identified the digital economy as a key constraint (World Bank 2017b, 6, 77; World Bank 2018d, 29, 30). Although the CPF cannot be expected to address all the constraints identified in the SCD, it would be important to ensure that the CPF’s prioritization and selectivity are well justified. IFC, for its part, sees the creation of its Upstream units in FY20 as strengthening the corporation’s ability to interact with the World Bank on country diagnostic and strategy work as well as policy and regulatory interventions. IFC has also created the Country Private Sector Diagnostic, which is a tool to assess opportunities for and constraints to private sector led growth.

To date, there has been insufficient discussion in SCDs of the link between digital technologies and the broader development agenda, including the twin goals (for example, when identifying key constraints). The World Development Report 2019 pointed out that digital technologies have been spreading, but their dividends have not (World Bank 2019m). This evaluation found that the discussion of poverty in the two SCDs mentioned in the Mainstreaming paper (World Bank 2019h)—the Senegal SCD (World Bank 2018e, 23–38) and the Poland SCD (World Bank 2017b)—did not consider the opportunities and risks posed by DTT.

A review of the Bank Group’s newly introduced digital economy diagnostics found that none of the sample pilot countries made poverty reduction and inclusion a focus for the digital economy strategy (Hanna 2019).4 The Bank Group has recently introduced new digital economy diagnostics, which can help assess client capacity for digital solutions. These include the Digital Economy Country Assessment, DE4A Country Diagnostic, and Digital Government Readiness Assessment. The Bank Group’s review of these digital economy diagnostics found that they often failed to explain the persistence of bottlenecks in achieving inclusion. It also highlighted some of the key questions to address in this regard; for example, What explains nonadoption when there is internet coverage? Is low usage the result of high cost, lack of local content, lack of hardware, or missing platforms? When there is usage, how effectively does it contribute to poverty reduction and shared prosperity? Such a focus was clearly absent for the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation Digital Economy Country Assessment pilot did not address the effectiveness of internet usage in contributing to poverty reduction and shared prosperity, even when assessing foundations or use cases like digital government, small and medium enterprises, finance (micro, payments), and innovation and entrepreneurship (Hanna 2019). This was also true for Malaysia and for low-income countries like Senegal (Hanna 2019). Although the DE4A diagnostic focused on the foundations of the digital economy, sectoral issues (in addition to the digital economy foundations) are important for the twin goals. Recently, the Bank Group has undertaken more diagnostic work pertaining to the digital economy.5 It has also updated its methodology for digital economy diagnostics with version 2.6

The reasons for the inadequate treatment of inclusion and poverty in digital economy diagnostics are twofold (Hanna 2019). First, relevant Global Practices have limited participation in the preparation of digital diagnostics. For example, the lack of participation by the Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice may have resulted in failing to account for major spatial inequalities (important in a large, diverse country like the Russian Federation, where national averages for digital economy indicators miss local variation). Other Global Practices that also tend to be excluded are the Poverty; Education; Health, Nutrition, and Population; and Governance Global Practices. Participation by the regional chief economist’s office would also be important for the inclusion agenda, which may be neglected if left solely to ICT specialists. Second, disaggregated data are lacking. The International Telecommunications Union, for example, generates data on the number of households with internet access but not necessarily on internet usage or how this varies across income groups or across dynamic and lagging Regions.7 Given its expertise in development data, this is a gap the Bank Group could help fill.

Finally, there has been insufficient attention to linking the support for digital technologies to the twin goals in two Bank Group regional initiatives: the Bank Group’s MNA Tech program and the DE4A Moonshot/Accelerate. The MNA Tech Concept Note did not mention how it would help contribute to the twin goals or discuss links between digital connectivity and poverty (poverty is mentioned twice in the 61-page Concept Note and is left out of the theory of change) (World Bank 2019b).8 The Concept Note for the DE4A Moonshot/Accelerate did not discuss some of the big risks from DTT, such as income inequality resulting from automation (World Bank 2019a).

Skills and Capabilities for the New Economy and the Role of Education

The fast pace of technological change likely means that individuals will have more than one career in their lifetime, which in turn means that they will need to continually learn new skills. Individuals will need to adopt a growth mindset, or the ability to “learn to learn” and to adapt to new jobs (box 2.2). The Bank Group’s FY20–22 Human Resources Strategy has recognized the need for staff to embrace a growth mindset for continuous learning. The garment industry illustrates how the nature of jobs will change. Sewbots are likely to replace at least some garment factory jobs, and new jobs of the future will involve using and producing sewbots. Those who cannot transition from manual sewing will likely lose out. According to the World Economic Forum (2018), access to economic opportunities will require individuals to remain competitive so that businesses have the talent they need for the jobs of the future.

Imparting skills that allow children to acquire a growth mindset or the ability to “learn to learn” and adapt will be key, given the rapidly changing job market. The Inter-American Development Bank has pointed out that students who begin primary school today will graduate from university in the mid-2030s, and their careers will last through 2060 or beyond (IDB 2018).9 The Bank Group has recognized the necessity of students continually acquiring new skills. A recent Technology for Youth Empowerment and Value Exchange (Evoke) project in Colombia takes a “sandbox” approach and uses blockchain and crypto-tokens to improve the process by which students are incentivized to develop the skills necessary to create innovative solutions to local challenges. Three recent World Development Reports dealing with digital dividends, education, and the changing nature of work identify the need to provide future workers with cognitive, technical, and socioemotional skills (World Bank 2016e, 2018h, 2019m). Other World Bank publications have also contributed to the literature on the importance of socioemotional skills (see, among others, Cunningham, Acosta, and Muller 2016; Cunningham and Villaseñor 2016; Guerra, Modecki, and Cunningham 2014; Puerta and others 2016). In its Step by Step Social and Emotional Learning Program for children and teens, the World Bank outlines six core life skills for children ages 6 through 17 that foster social responsibility, autonomy, and resilience.

Box 2.2. The Unpredictability of the Future Job Market and the Importance of a Growth Mindset

According to historian Yuval Noah Harari:

“The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms. Since we do not know what the job market will look like in 2030 or 2040, already today we have no idea what to teach our kids. Most of what they currently learn at school will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40. Traditionally, life has been divided into two main parts: a period of learning followed by a period of working. Very soon this traditional model will become obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives, and to reinvent themselves repeatedly” (Harari 2016).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has observed that “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment” (Dweck 2006).

Dweck argues that when people believe that their intellectual abilities can be developed, they have a desire to learn and, therefore, a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as a path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others—all of which help people reach even higher levels of achievement.

People who operate with a fixed mindset are more likely to stick to activities that use skills they have already mastered rather than risk embarrassment by failing at something new. People focused on growth make it their mission to learn new things, understanding that they won’t succeed at all of them—or at first.

Source: Dweck 2006; Dweck and Yeager 2019; Harari 2016; Yeager and others 2019.

DTT have a critical role to play in education to equip workers and children for the jobs of the future. Key intersections between education and DTT include the following:

  • The “application” of DTT to improve education (for example, by using computers in the classroom).
  • The use of education as a “response” to DTT to prepare people for a world disrupted by DTT, imparting twenty-first century skills, by
    • Preparing people to develop or produce DTT (for example, by teaching advanced cognitive skills, including higher-order problem solving and creative thinking);
    • Preparing people to use or consume DTT (for example, by teaching digital literacy); and
    • Preparing people for new jobs in which humans have the comparative advantage (for example, by teaching socioemotional skills, including empathy, curiosity, intrinsic motivation, grit, communication, teamwork and collaboration, leadership, global awareness, self-regulation, conflict resolution, relationship management, and, in particular, a growth mindset or the ability to “learn to learn”—to be lifelong learners and adapt to change).

The World Bank’s education lending and ASA over the past five years have focused more on the application of DTT and less on the response to DTT in preparing children for the twenty-first century (appendix A provides details on the identification of lending projects and ASA):10

  • Regarding lending, of the 163 education projects approved during FY15–19, 57 projects (35 percent) had at least one DTT-relevant objective, component, or indicator.
  • Of these 57 education projects (35 percent) with at least one DTT-relevant objective, component, or indicator, 79 percent provided support for the application of DTT to improve education, 11 percent provided support for preparing people to develop or produce technology in the new economy, 4 percent provided support for preparing people to use or consume technology in the new economy, and 21 percent provided support for preparing people for new jobs in which humans have the comparative advantage (italics show the key intersections between education and DTT discussed in the previous paragraph).11
  • Regarding ASA, of the 403 education-related ASA approved during FY15–19, only 15 percent had at least some DTT-relevant discussion in ASA abstracts or ASA documents. The scarcity of DTT-relevant analysis in ASA is of particular note, as it is in such analysis that new areas or innovations reflecting future educational and labor market needs and the role of DTT can be explored.

The Bank Group has an opportunity to spotlight twenty-first century skills and highlight both necessary and sufficient skills. The Bank Group’s flagship Human Capital Project (adopted by 77 countries in 2020 from just 28 early adopters in 2018) and Learning Poverty initiative (which includes an ambitious new learning target that aims to cut by at least half the global rate of learning poverty by 2030) seek to address fundamental gaps in learning outcomes.12 The Human Capital Index focuses on reading and math and the Learning Poverty initiative on reading and understanding a simple text.13 The Bank Group has an opportunity to move the narrative forward from necessary skills such as literacy and numeracy to include twenty-first century sufficient skills such as advanced cognitive skills, digital literacy, and socioemotional skills, particularly a growth mindset or the ability to “learn to learn” and adapt.14 Both necessary and sufficient skills are critical for ensuring that a workforce is well prepared for the future labor market. There are strong reasons for imparting these skills simultaneously—not sequentially—from early childhood itself, recognizing the profound positive effect on brain development and lifetime capabilities. Imparting sufficient skills may also serve the nascent demand from developing countries that are aspiring to grow and catch up by becoming knowledge-intensive economies and for reducing the North-South divide (UNESCO 2015).

DTT are emerging as an important mechanism in the context of COVID-19, given their relevance for social distancing and online learning. The Bank Group estimated that because of the pandemic, close to 1.6 billion children and youth in 161 countries were out of school as of April 2020. To minimize disruption to learning while schools are closed, countries are using various online learning technologies (for example, computers, tablets, or mobile phones) and off-line distance learning technologies (for example, TV or radio) to reach children remotely. World Bank support in this regard comprises (i) providing (on its EdTech website) guiding principles for short and long-term distance learning plans; (ii) maintaining a catalog of emerging approaches that documents how education systems are responding around the world; and (iii) maintaining a list of resources and platforms that identifies helpful technological solutions to support remote learning, covering off-line distance learning and online learning. Box 2.3 discusses the Bank Group’s experience with off-line distance learning and online learning. IFC has supported education technology clients through its venture capital investments, such as Byju’s in India, with the objective of providing solutions to adapt education and learning to COVID-19.

Box 2.3. Leveraging World Bank Group Experience with Off-Line Distance Learning and Online Learning in Responding to COVID-19

The World Bank Group’s experience with off-line distance learning and online learning provides pointers in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19). A review of a sample of recent education projects for this evaluation highlighted Bank Group experience with online learning, which has been used so far to (i) improve teacher training; (ii) reach spatially diverse populations; (iii) improve assessments in the classroom; and (iv) support blended learning, combining traditional face-to-face teaching methods and resources (textbooks, for example) with digital resources (such as tablets and e-learning). Follow-up interviews with key staff working in education and technology provided insights about the Bank Group’s use of both off-line distance learning and online resources and how these may be leveraged in responding to COVID-19.

The Bank Group’s experience with off-line distance learning and online learning points to the following challenges, which it will need to address as it ramps up its COVID-19 response and continues to provide ongoing education support:

  • Developing high-quality digital content in a format that follows pedagogical principles. Bank Group interviewees noted that although some open-source digital content is available, a key challenge is to prepare and make available pedagogical material that captures the attention of all students. They pointed to a shortage of digital curriculum expertise in the Bank Group.
  • Training teachers to effectively deliver digital content. Although online learning has been increasingly deployed for this purpose, this needs to keep in step with the capacity and connectivity of the receiver.
  • Ensuring a systems approach that develops all the necessary complements for digital education. This includes developing digital content, digital teaching, assessment data, infrastructure and device financing, and connectivity, since just distributing laptops does not improve learning outcomes.
  • Ensuring equitable access to infrastructure for connectivity through, for example, access to tablets, computers, wind-up radios, and TVs. This remains an issue in several countries and in several parts of each country.
  • Effectively delivering blended learning, which combines face-to-face teaching with digital instruction. This may be highly relevant in the short term, as children may be sometimes in and sometimes out of school, depending on progress in controlling the pandemic.
  • Building back better. The development literature suggests that crises often tend to galvanize support for change and make reforms easier. The COVID-19 pandemic presents the Bank Group with an opportunity to take bold action (for example, in strengthening curriculums to address job markets of the future), so that the education system that emerges after COVID-19 will be more relevant to twenty-first century needs than it might otherwise have been.
  • Strengthening networks and partnerships. Great strides in online learning are occurring through governments, educational institutions, the private sector, and others. Collaboration and partnerships can keep the Bank Group’s work state of the art.

Source: Independent Evaluation Group review.

  1. Details about the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery can be found at
  2. The overall discussion of skills and capabilities for the new economy and the role of education, especially in the context of the Human Capital Project, covers Bank Group support, whereas analysis of the education lending and advisory services and analytics (ASA) over the past five years covers the World Bank only.
  3. For more information about the Bank Group’s education programs, see
  4. Hanna (2019) assessed a purposive sample drawn from the Digital Economy Country Assessment, Digital Economy Country Assessment 2.0, Digital Economy for Africa, and Digital Government Readiness Assessment of pilots that were at a sufficiently advanced stage of implementation or drafting to generate important lessons, covered different Regions, included countries at different levels of development, or adopted different assessment tools and processes. The countries were the Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, Senegal, and Tunisia; there was also a multicountry assessment of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Assessment reports and documentation for several other countries and regional initiatives that were reviewed in less depth included those for Kenya, Lesotho, and the MNA (Middle East and North Africa) Tech Initiative.
  5. IEG has not evaluated the recent digital diagnostics.
  6. Version 2 is available on the Digital Economy for Africa public webpage: .
  7. Household surveys and administrative data of the kind the Bank Group collects will likely be required to address such questions.
  8. MNA Tech is part of the Middle East and North Africa Strategy, and the latter emphasizes the achievement of the twin goals.
  9. “To prepare for the 2030s and beyond, emerging economies have an opportunity to leapfrog, to prepare their youth for the careers of the future. Our schools should teach the curriculum of the future, not just the curriculum of the past” (IDB 2018).
  10. The International Finance Corporation is also engaged in education through venture capital education technology companies, but these were not evaluated here.
  11. One project could fall into more than one category.
  12. The Human Capital Project notes that children in many countries are struggling to learn in school (with nearly 60 percent of primary school children in developing countries failing to achieve minimum proficiency in learning) and that countries often underinvest in human capital (Gatti and others 2018, 2, 14). Furthermore, the learning poverty indicator (the percentage of children who cannot read and understand at age 10) stood at 53 percent of children in low- and middle-income countries. See also Saavedra 2020.
  13. The Human Capital Index is a tool designed to measure how well a country is doing in terms of fulfilling its human capital potential. It converts core indicators on survival, schooling, and health into measures of worker productivity (World Bank 2020b).
  14. Recent initiatives of the Bank Group for promoting digital literacy include technology efforts in the Education Global Practice portfolio. There are increasing efforts to support the development of digital skills both in basic and higher education for teachers, principals, and learners. This encompasses support for the enabling environment, including digital infrastructure, data systems, and digital learning resources. Together with the technology and innovation team, the Education Global Practice has developed an external Community of Practice in this area, engaging partners such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, Microsoft, Lego, the UK Department for International Development, and the US Agency for International Development. Furthermore, as part of the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology program, the World Bank and its partners are supporting the development of a Digital Skills Action Plan that will guide Country Action Plans for digital skills in Africa. Digital skills comprise both digital literacy skills, which are required by citizens and workers in many occupations, and specialized digital skills for the information and communication technology professions. The Digital Skills Action Plan will support five strategies: (i) enabling policies and a digital skills framework; (ii) reforming digital skills programs; (iii) using technology in teaching and learning; (iv) connecting institutions to high-speed internet; and (v) building capacity and reengineering business processes.