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DFID Names Top 10 ICT4D Trends for 2019

By Wayan Vota on January 24, 2019

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) recently launched the Frontier Technology Livestreaming programme to help UKAid apply emerging technologies to international development challenges.

Frontier Technology Livestreaming offers DFID programmes:

  • Seed funding of £100,000 to enable small-scale technology pilot testing
  • Matching DFID Advisors with local technology entrepeneurs and innovators.
  • Supporting DFID to work in new, agile and lean impact methodologies

Frontier Technology Livestreaming is currently operating 16 pilots in 9 counties in South Asia and Africa. These demonstration projects emerged from three calls to DFID Advisors globally for ideas as to how frontier technologies might solve development challenges.

DFID Advisors’ Top 10 ICT4D Trends for 2019

DFID advisors were surveyed recently to understand how technology perceptions have shifted, which technologies are thought to be the most promising and to get a sense of what has changed in fast moving world of tech.

137 votes from 37 countries revealed these top 10 trends in ICT4D for DFID:

  1. Big Data
  2. Circular Economy
  3. Financial Technology
  4. Blockchain
  5. AI & Machine Learning
  6. Satellite Technology
  7. Refugee Applications
  8. Micro-Grid Batteries
  9. 3D Printing
  10. Alternate Internet Delivery

In the voting, Big Data lead the field by a wide margin, as DFID advisors believe that Big Data will help DFID see trends and make better resource allocations. Yet there is also a massive risk that Big Data could get hijacked by others before the development sector fully understands its potential.

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I was surprised to see Circular Economy ranked so highly, as I don’t really see it as ICT4D, yet DFID staff think of it as a way of promoting recycling, reusing and reducing emissions to promote environmental improvements and the broader socio-economic aims of DFID’s funding.

I also edited their top 10 list slightly. I combined artificial intelligence and machine learning (which DFID had separate for some odd reason) into one line, thereby graduating alternate Internet delivery into the top 10.

DFID 2016 ICT4D Trends vs 2019 Trends

2016 ict4d trends

DFID conducted a survey of ICT4D trends in 2016, and there is a remarkable shift from the previous DFID survey to this 2019 survey.

Only Two Stalwarts Remain: Big Data and mico-grid batteries are the only two technologies that stayed in the top 10 for both surveys. In addition to Big Data, DFID advisors still believe that new battery technology and smart grids can improve renewable energy usage and reduce climate change.

From Hardware to Software: In 2016, DFID was interested in hardware applications like condensers, desalinators, solar powered batteries, and smart grids. Yet, fast forward three years and most of those hardware ideas are replaced by software and processing.

What is Not an ICT4D Trend for DFID in 2019

One interesting aspect of the survey are the ICT4D trends that DFID advisors did not rank as high-profile technologies for international development. The bottom 10 technologies included:

  • 5G Wireless Spectrum
  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Wearables
  • Smart Dust

The lack of interest in these technologies could be due to the lack of tangible evidence of their efficacy and (potentially related) lack of hype of these technologies in the news and tech media.

What ICT4D Trends Do You See?

Now that you’ve read about the ICT4D trends that DFID advisors are excited about, what trends to do you see? And what trends do you want to see on ICTworks?

We are continuing our multi-year tradition of asking you what you want to read about on ICTworks in using information and communication technologies to accelerate social and economic advancement in the developing world.
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Please click here to let us know what you want to see in ICTworks this year. We promise to read and reflect on your submission and use every entry to improve your experience over the year.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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