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Digital Technology

Digital technology has boosted growth, expanded opportunities, and improved service delivery in much of the world. ADB's initiatives are empowering the poor to use digital technology to help lift themselves out of poverty.

ADB's Work to Improve Access to Information and Communication

Global recognition of the benefits of digital technology but also of the risks of digital divides suggests more investment is needed in policy and regulatory frameworks, infrastructure (including connectivity), applications (including contents and services), and capacities and skills.

We live in a digital age in which business and societal interaction increasingly takes place online. Ever faster and cheaper, when it is not entirely new, digital technology allows people to seek, acquire, and share expertise, ideas, services, and technologies locally, nationally, regionally, and around the world. It boosts efficiency and productivity; reduces risks, transaction costs, and barriers to entry; provides the means for sweeping reorganization of business; and generally makes governments, markets, and networks work better. Nevertheless, success does not come out of nowhere: everything points to the need for enabling policy and regulatory frameworks in line with well thought-out investments in digital technology infrastructure at local, national, and regional levels; development of applications; and capacities and skills for development, implementation, and sustainable operation and maintenance.

Computer graphics and multimedia research laboratory, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the National University of Mongolia.
Computer graphics and multimedia research laboratory, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the National University of Mongolia.

Digital Technology for Development springs from the desire to leverage digital technology to propel economic and social progress and enhance its effects. Because digital technology can help achieve the aspirational, transformational, and universal objectives of the post-2015 development agenda, four targets of the newly approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals make direct reference to it.

Between 2000 and 2015, ADB extended 402 digital technology-related loans, grants, and technical assistance projects to the value of $11.9 billion to help develop and maintain:

  • Digital technology infrastructure, e.g., telecommunications networks, mobile and wireless networks, broadband cable networks, data centers, last-mile internet connectivity, etc.
  • Digital technology industries, e.g., digital technology centers of excellence, research/computer laboratories, digital technology-enabled industries such as business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, software parks, digital technology incubators, etc.
  • Digital technology-enabled services, e.g., digital technology applications for education, finance, governance, health, etc.
  • Digital technology policy, strategy, and capacity development, e.g., digital technology policy and strategy, telecommunications policy reform, universal access and service, digital technology road maps (national and local), digital technology regulations and laws, digital technology skills training and capacity building, etc.

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  • Thomas ABELL (Mr)

    Advisor and Chief of Digital Technology for Development
    Digital Technology for Development Unit
    Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department

Digital Technology in Key Sectors

The potential of digital technology as a development tool rests on its ability to improve the way people do things. The rapid changes and advancements in modern technology present a unique opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog intermediate steps in development while improving the quality and broadening the reach of public services.

The strategic and effective use of digital technology—combined with a reform-oriented mindset, necessary set of skills, institutional structure and capacity, appropriate business models, as well as policy and regulatory environments—can facilitate fast and efficient delivery of public services in key sectors.

ADB has incorporated innovative strategies for the application of digital technologies in its policies for key sectors

Digital Technology in Agriculture

Agriculture and Food Security

ADB’s digital technology efforts are raising agricultural productivity and the quality of life of farmers and the rural poor by improving information flows, communication, and access to reliable, up-to-date information.

Digital Technology in Education


Digital technology can improve the efficiency and quality of education at all levels. Part of ADB's strategy to support its education policy principles is promoting "experimentation with, and dissemination of, innovative strategies and technologies in education."

Digital Technology in Health


Digital technology can be a powerful tool for improving health and related services. ADB projects are helping to improve dissemination of public health information, bridge the gap in consultation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Digital Technology in Public Sector

Public Sector Management

ADB encourages governments to adopt both innovative approaches and modern technologies to promote good governance.

Digital Technology in Telecommunications


ADB is helping to expand telecommunication networks, provide shared digital technology access facilities like Community e-Centers (CeCs), and develop innovative and relevant digital technology applications.