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Up Front

Disrupting development with digital technologies

Kemal Derviş

The emergence of a new digital economy is changing the ways in which businesses and development organizations engage in emerging and developing countries. Transaction costs have been radically driven down, enabling greater inclusion. And technology is driving efficiency improvements, and permitting rapid scaling-up and transformational change.

Three trends in particular have the potential to redefine how global development occurs and how efforts will support it over the next 10 years: (1) the growing adoption of digital payments serving people everywhere with near-frictionless transactions; (2) the spread of Internet connectivity and digital literacy; and (3) the harnessing of data to better serve the poor and to generate new knowledge.

On August 5-7, the 12th annual Brookings Blum Roundtable will convene senior policy and technical experts from the government, private sector, and research communities to explore and scrutinize some of the big innovations that exemplify these trends before exploring the implications for investors and governments, in terms of both the huge opportunities and the considerable challenges and risks attached to these disruptive technologies.

The roundtable will be guided by three overarching questions: How can we expect these trends and innovations to affect business and development organizations’ approaches to development? What policy challenges and risks will the new digital economy pose? What are the constraints to making these innovations fully inclusive and scalable?

Ahead of the roundtable, Brookings commissioned six essays to set the scene for the discussion. As these essays present some of the most current information and thinking on what might be termed “digital disruption,” we are making them publicly available to stimulate wider discussion. The six essays and their authors are:

Read the essays and follow the conversation around this year’s roundtable on Twitter, using the hashtag #Blum2015.

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