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Technologies for sustainable development

More effective development cooperation through digitalisation


Issakha Youm uses digital solutions to ensure that solar energy is being used efficiently in Senegal.

The digital transformation affects all sectors of development cooperation: agriculture, climate, education, health, the economy and modernising the state. By using promising new technologies, the BMZ is able to achieve its goals better, faster and more sustainably. Consequently, it is increasingly embedding information and communication technologies (ICTs) in all areas of development cooperation and allocating more resources for this purpose.

However, ICTs are not a universal remedy for every problem. Technologies are only used in German development cooperation when there is clear added value to be had. If used correctly, ICTs can make development in our partner countries more efficient, more equitable, more participatory, more transparent and more sustainable. The focus of the BMZ is on using ICTs in those areas where they promise measurable development achievements. The areas in question are:

  1. ​ICT infrastructure (connecting people and expanding networks)
  2. ​Access to education and vocational education and training
  3. ​Skills for the digital world, training of IT professionals
  4. ​Good governance and modernising the state
  5. ​Health
  6. ​Food security, rural development and agriculture
  7. ​Climate and energy
  8. ​Sustainable economic development and financial system development
  9. ​ICTs as an opportunity for migrants, displaced persons and host communities

Harnessing potential


The following table shows how ICTs can be deployed within various thematic areas and the potential impact they can have.

Priority areaPossible ICT applications
Access to education and vocational training Computer-supported learning (e-learning) enhances training and further education opportunities.
Affordable digital media and applications improve access to educational and training materials.

Easier access to educational and training courses for disadvantaged population groups, for example, lessons broadcast on the radio to people in remote rural areas.

Enhancing their digital skills (IT, information and media skills) enables people to take part in the global knowledge society.
Good governance and modernising the state Information about opportunities for political participation and new means of communication increase people’s active involvement.

Electronically supported administrative procedures are easier to verify and therefore boost transparency.

Accountability requirements are fulfilled by publishing information on political decisions, such as budget plans, or on the procedural status of applications.

Swift provision of information at a low cost, transparent and understandable processes, and secure data management enhance the efficiency of public administration.
Health ICTs facilitate the provision of training for healthcare professionals.

​Information, including on sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS or family planning, is made more readily available using websites, mobile phone apps or telephone hotlines.

Easier communication between the various actors in the healthcare sector (for example, between rural health facilities and specialist staff in distant hospitals).

Better knowledge management and exchange of data (for example, patient information such as medical records or vaccination cards).

Better provision of care for chronically ill patients (for example, via text messages reminding them to take important medication).
Food security, rural development and agriculture Access to weather forecasts or information about new cultivation methods, seeds and pest control (for example, via text-message-based information services or internet forums) boosts productivity in agriculture.
Climate, energy and the environment The use of geographic information systems (GIS) and electronic cadastral administration services supports sustainable land use.

GIS technology facilitates the monitoring of environmental changes and impacts.
Sustainable economic development and financial system development

Improved access to key market information (such as prices) over the internet or via mobile communication (text messages) boosts the income of farmers and micro-entrepreneurs.

Continuing education and training on topics like business models for IT services support and promote SMEs and micro-enterprises.

The introduction of ICT-supported management systems increases the efficiency of work processes.

Access to ICTs boosts the competitiveness of micro-enterprises; online trading opens up new sales opportunities.

Standardised ICT applications strengthen integration into global supply chains.

ICT-based services (such as information kiosks or leasing shared mobile phones) unlock new income-generating opportunities.

Financial services become more accessible, in particular through mobile banking and other mobile phone technology.


Creating an enabling environment

Women using a smartphone

To ensure that development projects have an optimal impact and are sustainable, the BMZ places particular value on staff and organisational development (capacity development), on providing training courses in the national languages of the countries concerned and on partners on the ground taking ownership.

It is also important that the right political environment is created for the use of information and communication technologies. This means

  • opening up markets that are often still characterised by monopolies;
  • creating access points; and also
  • promoting relevant local information content, fostering freedom of expression and strengthening the potential for innovation within a society.

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