Greening: Technology at the heart of development (UK DFID)

Britain will give millions of the poorest the power to hold their government to account and improve their lives through mobile technology, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has pledged at the Open Up! Conference in London's tech city.

Speaking at the conference hosted by Omidyar Network and Department for International Development, she set out how Britain will help six million of the world’s poorest people to benefit from innovative new projects across Africa and Asia.

She also committed to use mobile and internet technology to make governments more effective and transparent and help the poorest to have a say in the future of aid.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “With more than a thousand new mobile connections every minute in the developing world, we have tremendous opportunity to ensure the voices of the poorest are heard. Mobile and web technology has the power to transform lives and improve the way governments work, but too often it has been overlooked. I am determined to use Britain’s aid to help citizens have a say in their future, speak up when they face crime or incompetence and make it easier to trade and grow businesses.”

Stephen King, partner, Omidyar Network said: “Responsive and accountable government requires openness and an engaged citizenry. Open Up! will showcase the technology tools that foster transparency and also share the experiences of leading social entrepreneurs who are doing the hard, day-to-day work to bring governments and citizens closer together.  The conversations that begin today are meant to encourage greater collaboration, inspire new innovations, and accelerate the pace of the open government movement.   At stake are greater accountability of government to its citizens, improved service delivery, and economic growth and prosperity.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee said: “I am delighted that the UK government is supporting The Web Index, so that policymakers and others can come to fully understand the political, economic and social impact of the web’s growth and utility on poor people and nations. I commend the leadership and commitment of the UK in the open data effort. Opening up data is fundamentally about more efficient use of resources and improving service delivery for citizens.”

Britain will promote mobile and internet technology by:

Helping the poorest to decide their future: Working with the UN, mobile technology company Kirusa and others, DFID will support MyWorld - a mobile survey to allow at least two million in the poorest countries to have a direct say in the future of international aid through their mobile phones.

Making aid more transparent: Britain will launch a new Open Aid Information Platform to allow anyone to trace spending from Whitehall down to specific aid projects on the ground across the developing world.

Helping poor countries to harness the power of the internet: Working with Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation, Britain will help to close the ‘digital divide’ by researching internet use in poor countries and provide a solid evidence base to find new ways to use the power of the web to improve the lives of the poorest.

Kick-starting innovative new tech ideas: Britain will launch a new partnership to help six million people in the poorest countries to benefit from new technology. Making All Voices Count is collaboration between DFID, Omidyar Network, USAID and the Sweden Government to spot innovative ideas and make them work. All software devised through this programme will be open source, allowing others to use and adapt it as necessary.

Fight corruption and improve services: Britain will help the people of Pakistan to report poor performing or corrupt local officials direct to senior Ministers through their mobile phones. Every citizen who contacts the Punjab province’s local government, tax office, police, health or education services will receive free automated calls or text messages where they can report if were forced to pay a bribe or experienced bad customer service. During a three year pilot, several corrupt officials were suspended or sacked.

The UK and Indonesia are currently co-chairs of the Open Government Partnership, a global effort to make governments more transparent, effective and accountable. Through the partnership, the UK encourages governments across the world join and demonstrate their commitment to open government and transparency, with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations.

Notes to editors

  • The UK’s Department for International Development and Omidyar Network will host the Open Up! conference on the use of technology and development in London’s “Tech City” on Tuesday 13th November 2012. Join in at  and using #OpenUp12.
  • The event will be hosted by the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening and Stephen King, Partner of the Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
  • Through Making All Voices Count, Start-up funding will be awarded to projects which prove they can help the poorest to hold their governments to account, building on the success of the projects such as the Indian site which is uncovering bribery in India.
  • The MyWorld survey will allow people in Africa, Asia and Latin America to tell world leaders their priorities the future of the Millennium Development Goals which are due to run out in 2015. Working with the UN Millennium Campaign, the World Wide Web Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, UNDP and ONE to develop the MyWorld global survey to give people everywhere a say in what should be at the heart of the post-2015 development framework. The UN's High Level Panel on the future of aid and development is co-chaired by the UK's Prime Minister David Cameron.
  • The Open Aid Information Platform will be a new open source website which will open up DFID’s data to show where we spend aid and how we deliver it from start to finish – and what results we are delivering on behalf of British taxpayers in specific schools, hospitals or projects.
  • There are now over five billion mobile connections in the developing world, increasing by 18 per second. At the same time, the UN estimates that 80 million people across the world have no access to an electrical grid but use a mobile.

UK Secretary mentions about Kirusa participating in UN My World Survey at 11:01 minutes 

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