New UK strategy aims to improve lives through digital technology

A new UK digital development strategy published today (Monday 18 March) sets out how the UK will lead the way and partner with countries around the globe, so no-one is left behind in a digital world.

Digital technologies can support development, for example, mobile money and financial technology have had a huge impact by including people around the world in the digital economy. Likewise artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to boost health research and reduce the cost of drug development.

However, there are 2.6 billion people globally without internet, including 65% of homes in poorer countries. There is also a stark gender divide, with women about 20% less likely than men to access the internet on a mobile phone.

The UK’s new strategy, launched by Development Minister Andrew Mitchell today, will support countries to maximise the opportunities and minimise the risks of a rapidly changing digital world.

Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said:

Digital technologies are central to our daily lives but currently a lot of countries are missing out on the opportunities they provide.

Our new digital adevelopment strategy will promote affordable connectivity, harness the potential of AI for development and help tackle online violence against women and girls.

The strategy is focused on 4 priority areas in digital development:

  • last-mile connectivity: promoting basic connectivity in remote, low-income areas. By 2030 the UK will have supported at least 20 partner countries to halve the gap between people who have connectivity and people who do not, for example by facilitating regulatory reforms and building capacity of local organisations
  • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI): DPI is the technical term for society-wide digital services, such as e-government and national payment systems. By 2030 the UK will have supported at least 20 partner countries to bring in national digital services
  • artificial intelligence: the rapid evolution of AI presents both opportunities and risks, especially for developing countries that risk being left behind due to their weaker digital foundations. By 2030 the UK will have created or scaled up at least 8 AI research labs at African universities and helped create regulatory frameworks for responsible AI
  • women and girls: the gender divide limits women and girls’ ability to benefit from digital technology. By 2030 the UK will have supported at least 50 million women and girls to participate safely and meaningfully in the digital world by providing online safety advice and digital training

Publication of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s first digital development strategy follows the UK’s white paper on international development, published last year, which demonstrated the need to make digital transformation inclusive, responsible and sustainable.


Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

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