Pathways for Prosperity: Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development was launched today in Nairobi to discuss the need for a global conversation on the role of technology in driving progress and inclusion in developing countries.
Pathways for Prosperity was launched by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, minister of finance of Indonesia; and Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.
The new commission will provide evidence and analysis, along with concrete policy recommendations, to help developing country governments navigate this rapidly evolving landscape and will be led by the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.
“As an entrepreneur, technology underpins everything I do, and I am fascinated by what is coming down the line. But I know that there are also potential pitfalls and risks,” said Strive Masiyiwa. “This commission gives us a way of working together to understand how to harness technology for good, use it to enhance opportunities for all and drive inclusive growth.”
The commission’s academic directors will be Blavatnik School’s Stefan Dercon, former chief economist of the UK Department for International Development (DfID), and Benno Ndulu, former governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania.
Other commissioners include Kamal Bhattacharya, CIO of Safaricom; Shanta Devarajan, senior director for development economics at the World Bank; Minister Sigrid Kaag, minister for foreign trade and development cooperation of the Netherlands; Nadiem Makarim, founder and CEO of Go-Jek; Maria Ramos, CEO of Barclays Africa Group; Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT; and Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO of Tala.
“Innovation can help people transform their lives, but only if they have access to it,” said Melinda Gates. “This commission brings together diverse thinkers and doers committed to ensuring that everyone, no matter how rich or poor, can take advantage of technological innovation.”
The commission hailed the contribution of digital financial services such as M-Pesa to Kenya where it enabled 75 percent of the people over 15 years old to have access to bank accounts (up from 10 percent in 2005), and lifted 2 percent of the population out of poverty.
Bringing together a diverse range of leaders from government, business and academia, the commission will focus on frontier technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, energy generation and storage, and biotechnology. The commission will also discuss tools to strengthen the relationship between citizens and governments.
Over the past 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty being halved to about 800 million, the commission will hold several events around the world over the next two years focussing on different thematic issues and countries, with the common aim of helping governments in developing countries take advantage of the opportunities technology brings.