New USAID Digital Ecosystem Framework for International Development

Article by ICTWorks: “USAID’s Digital Strategy explains that a digital ecosystem comprises stakeholders, systems, and an enabling environment that, together, empower people and communities to use digital technology to access services, engage with each other, and pursue economic opportunities. Building on this concept, the Agency created a framework that refines the ecosystem into a practical structure for development practitioners.

USAID’s Digital Ecosystem framework is distinct from the concept of a digital economy – and the distinction is an important one that USAID has iterated and worked to define. It is an environment, system, and culture all at once; it is the starting point for any digital interaction, and understanding it is crucial for development practitioners.

The Digital Ecosystem Framework is organized around three separate, overlapping pillars:

  • Digital Infrastructure and Adoption: the resources that make digital systems possible and how individuals and organizations access and use these resources.
  • Digital Society, Rights, and Governance: how digital technology intersects with government, civil society, and the media.
  • Digital Economy: the role digital technology plays in increasing economic opportunity and efficiency

USAID’s Digital Ecosystem framework encompasses four cross-cutting topics:

  • Inclusion: reducing disparities in access and the “digital divide”
  • Cybersecurity: protecting information against damage, unauthorized use or modification, or exploitation.
  • Emerging Technologies: encompassing artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain, 5G and other new technologies.
  • Geopolitical Positioning: the influence of authoritarian states that are actively working to shape the global digital space….(More)”.