The Tech Revolution: Can Development Policy Keep Up? – Podcast with Raj Kumar of Devex

February 16, 2017

Digital technology is changing the way we do development. Viral videos, crowdsourced donations, digital cash transfers for refugees—what opportunities do these technologies present, and how can those of us working on policy innovation make better use of them?

For one thing, technology “has changed the way we look at projects and their effectiveness. It’s now getting more possible to have real-time results on initiatives,” Raj Kumar, founder of the online development hub Devex, tells me in this week’s podcast. “We can know pretty quickly what’s working and what’s not… and hopefully make mid-course corrections.” 

But Kumar says we could be doing a whole lot more: “Our systems are still generally set up for the old world and we are not really anticipating the opportunities that the growth in digital technology provides.” 

Example: when I say "development technology," do you think of mobile phones? If so, you're not alone. While that’s a great start, "this revolution was not a mobile phone revolution and now it’s over," Kumar says. "We’re at the beginning of a massive shift in terms of digital technologies . . . . What’s it going to be like five years from now?’”

"There’s quite a bit that has to happen on the policy front to match the digital technology revolution, and the opportunity that presents, with the way [development] actually functions.”


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