President Obama’s September 2010 Presidential Policy
Directive on Global Development identifies innovation
and technology as a key component of the government’s efforts to alleviate global poverty. This focus makes
sense, given that it draws on the comparative advantage of
the U.S. economy.
Of course, the U.S. does not have a monopoly on good
ideas. There is a growing recognition that some of the best
recent innovations for development have emerged from within
the developing world. Innovators there use their proximity
to development challenges as an advantage, ensuring that
their inventions respond precisely to local needs and are
compatible with local behavior, culture and the environment.