Why Just Digital Transformations

At DPA, we want to help reduce the barriers and democratize the process by which organizations, institutions, and other groups can become digitally mature. We critically assess the enabling conditions for just digital transformations, and support civil society, as well as public and private organizations to understand and reach digital maturity. To accomplish this objective, we help institutions reduce waste, better utilize resources, and access new and existing technologies, making development more equal and helping practitioners create more impact.

"Digital technology does not exist in a vacuum —it has enormous potential for positive change, but can also reinforce and magnify existing fault lines and worsen economic and other inequalities. In 2019, close to 87% of individuals in developed countries used the Internet, compared with only 19% in the least developed countries." (UN, 2020)

Methods

DPA applies a mix or one of the following methods to conduct projects falling under this program: Strategic evaluation of digital-related policies, digital maturity assessments, mixed-methods digital ecosystem research, tailored recommendations, and action data plans.

Products

Product 1

Evaluation of Digital Initiatives

Product 2

Digital Maturity
Assessments

Product 3

Digital Ecosystem
Research

Product 4

Data and Digital
Strategy

Strategic Evaluation of Digital-Related Policies

Feasibility Study for the Establishment of a Category 2 Center under the auspices of UNESCO on Artificial Intelligence

DPA conducted a feasibility study that included a full assessment and a recommendation. The final report summarized the findings and conclusion on whether or not the proposed Center should be created as a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO. DPA´s approach and methodology were based on three steps, 1) Identification of key documents and stakeholders. 2) Collection and analysis of relevant data and information: This second step involved the collection and analysis of key data and information. 3) Development of deliverables and recommendations in a final report.

Strategic Assessment of the European Commission’s Work in Digitalization in Sub-Saharan Africa

This study, produced in collaboration with ADE, assessed the European Union’s external cooperation for development in the cross-cutting field of digitalisation in SSA, with a view to issuing a series of lessons learnt and recommendations to inform current and future cooperation work. In particular, this evaluation focuses on understanding and analyzing DEVCO’s investments and projects in the region, the extent to which these projects are strategically promoting the pillars, objectives and values of the EU frameworks, and to identify complementarities or (lack thereof) with other relevant national, regional and international stakeholders.

Evaluation of the EU Cooperation with the United Nations in External Action

This evaluation, led by our partner ADE, provided an independent assessment and evidence on the EU-UN cooperation in external action-building through the analysis of five thematic areas: 1) Green Deal; 2) Sustainable, economic, social, human development; 3) Governance, security and governance; 4) Migration and forced displacement; 5) Transition to a new digital era (led by DPA). The evaluation assessed the EU’s influence and visibility in the UN system in relation to achieving EU priorities and EU support of multilateralism. It examined the mechanisms for actual implementation and delivery of support, as well as their effectiveness and efficiency, including mechanisms for policy dialogue, programming, and cooperation. Additionally, the evaluation provided inputs on how to further improve cooperation between the EU and the UN.

World Bank Crisis Risk Finance Analytics (CRFA) Strategic Review, Dissemination, and Technical Design on Big Data and Technology for Financial Resilience

In collaboration with the Global Risk Financing Facility, the Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance (CDRF) team at the World Bank, and the European Space Agency (ESA), DPA reviewed the work of the CRFA program, specifically from an outreach and data management perspective, to ensure dissemination and uptake of their technical work, highlighting the most promising applications and anticipating opportunities and challenges. The resulting publications outlined the potential for AI, ML, Earth Observation, and Big Data to improve disaster risk finance and management. 

Evaluation of the Contribution to the Implementation of SDGs by the EU External Action Between 2016-2021

The main objective of this evaluation, led by our partner ADE, is to provide an independent, evidence-based assessment of the contribution of the EU’s external actions in support of the implementation of the SDGs – not only as a set of individual goals, but also in relation to their integration into the EU’s external policy framework. In line with EU policy, this evaluation seeks to be a stock-taking, lesson-learning, and forward-looking exercise, as well as an accurate assessment of achieved results.

Evaluation of the WFP´s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and Climate Change Policies

DPA, in collaboration with ADE, aims to examine the WFP´s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRR\M) and Climate Change (CC) policies under one evaluative framework, as well as in synergy with the current evaluation of WFP Policy on Building Resilience for Food Security (2015). This evaluation follows WFP OEV’s methodological approach for policy evaluations, with the objective to provide a global analysis of the quality of design and activities for implementation of the two policies. DPA is using mixed, participatory, and innovative methods, including country case studies with field visits, desk reviews (with text analysis), a global staff survey, and a comparative learning exercise.

Evaluation of the EU Cooperation with the World Bank

This evaluation, led by our partner ADE, provides an overall independent assessment and evidence on the WB cooperation in external action building via an ex-post and prospective analysis of the partnership. Among other research objectives, the evaluation assesses the achievement of EU objectives and priorities in the field of international cooperation and development as a result of this partnership; the reinforcement of the role of the EU as an international actor and a global player; the promotion of multilateral dialogue, solutions, and cooperation; and the effective and efficient delivery of development support to countries and development partners. It also provides a roadmap to gauge the opportunities and constraints the EU faces in relation to its partnership with the WB.

Consulting Services on International AI-policy and Data Governance Policies, Data Protection, and Privacy for GIZ Fair Forward

FAIR Forward Artificial Intelligence is a GIZ initiative aimed at promoting and achieving a more inclusive and sustainable approach to AI at the international level. This is done through three pillars of work: 1) strengthening local AI technical know-how 2) removing entry barriers to AI by improving access to AI technologies and data; and 3) developing policy frameworks including ethical AI, data protection, and privacy guidelines. DPA provided consulting services in the form of reports, guidelines, and advisory assistance under the aforementioned pillars of work throughout 2021. As a result, reports and tools on subjects as diverse as the ethical use of machine learning for earth observation; a gender-sensitive approach to AI; operating and business models to sustain Open AI resources; available data governance models for AI initiatives; among others, were produced for and incorporated by the GIZ FF initiative in its projects.

Strategic Evaluation of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Use of Technology in Constrained Environments

This evaluation, developed in collaboration with ADE, looked at the extent to which WFP has effectively and efficiently deployed the most appropriate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and how, why and under which conditions the use of technologies has contributed to management and program objectives. The team designed a mixed methods approach consistent with WFP’s proposed analytical framework and outlined the factors affecting technological innovation and diffusion. In addition, six case studies were conducted in Jordan, Niger, Iraq, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bangladesh.

Digital Maturity Assessments

Digital Maturity Assessment: Methodology Development and Implementation

DPA developed a Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA) framework to provide Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Country Offices with a tool to self-assess their digital transformation journey based on the perceptions and experiences of its staff. The DMA framework is the analytical background guiding the calculation of a Digital Maturity Score that measures the level of digital transformation in the COs based on qualitative data on: Digital ecosystem, data, and tech management; User-centricity and digital inclusion; Digital mindset, literacy, and innovation; Strategy, governance, policies, and frameworks; Investment and partnerships. The DMA was tested in the COs in Bangladesh and Sudan. The results and outputs of these pilots were made available in an interactive dashboard created to facilitate the visualization and extraction of insights.

Digital Ecosystem Research

Technical Assistance Facility for Africa-EU Relations in the Field of Economic Development

DPA supported INTPA Headquarters (HQ) in its strategic approach to Africa-EU relations by providing technical assistance through policy material, including study, analysis and policy briefings, to strengthen the service’s capacity in “knowledge-based” policymaking, taking into account EU political interests towards Africa, as well as relevant existing legally-binding agreements, political declarations and strategic documents. The main objective of the technical assistance facility was to provide the service with reliable and comprehensive policy material on Africa-EU relations in: (1) Transport and Infrastructures, (2) Digital technologies and services, (3) Sustainable Energy and climate change and (4) Private sector and Trade. The project was funded by OCA Global Consulting and Technical Advisory Services.

Report “Digital Technology Shaping Green and Sustainable Lifestyles: Exploring Alipay Ant Forest”

This report analyzes Alipay’s Ant Forest’s exponential growth and its trajectory and vision to unlock the power of individual behavior change for climate change mitigation. It explains how this green initiative (via digital functions) has managed to encourage users to engage in low-carbon activities in their daily life. It estimates that the market size for an innovation such as Alipay Ant Forest is roughly 3 times the current population of the United States, noting that up to 8.6% of emissions tied to public transportation could be avoided across seven high emission countries if similar green initiatives were to be implemented over the 2020-2030 period. This project was carried out with the support of the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance and UNEP Inquiry.

Support to the Inter-American Development Bank in the Identification of Technological and Big Data Tools for Current, Ongoing, and New IDB Projects

This project aimed to support the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) in the preparation of the IDB Andean Summit event (November 29, 2018) in Quito, Ecuador. A study was generated identifying new Big Data tools that are being developed and/or used by academic institutions, international organizations, public or private sector that would concretely benefit current and future IDB projects. Based on DPA’s experience, the consultancy’s goal was to contribute to the IDB’s knowledge, identification and capabilities on available technological tools that provide observable material improvements at different stages of current or future projects. The study was based on IDB projects in 5 countries in the region.

Data and Digital Strategy

Development and Launch of a Data-driven Platform

DPA will develop a data-driven tool that will provide the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) with access to key information on global and regional trends relevant to its work in Africa. This tool will support the foundation’s future investment decisions with an evidence-based and system-change approach. Additionally, the tool will grow the organizational awareness and understanding of  issues shaping important social debates in Africa.

Technical Assistance to UNDP Togo’s Open and Big Data Activities and Plans

Data-Pop Alliance (DPA) offered to provide technical assistance to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Togo Country Office (CO) to support its efforts to leverage open and Big Data for the country’s development, including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) monitoring and promotion. The consultancy aimed at contributing to advancing the state of knowledge, know-how, awareness and capacities to harness the potential of Open Data and Big Data in Togo. In particular, UNDP CO’s ability to contribute to the recognition that data ought to matter; that the access and analysis of personal data must not be done at the expense of people’s privacy, safety and agency; that without a significant upgrade in local awareness and capacities, the “Data Revolution” may fail or simply reinforce existing power dynamics and inequities; that algorithms determining or informing an increasing number of public decisions must be open, fair, transparent; that the most impactful and lasting way to bring about change is to build capacities and connections locally, through pilot projects, experimentations, dialogues, capacity building and awareness raising etc., and according to strategies informed by a sound understanding of the local context. 

The African Union-European Union (AU-EU) Data Economies

In collaboration with the European Union and the African Union, and support from German development agency GIZ, DPA developed an overview of the Data Economy Framework between Europe and Africa in a concise report focused on the potential of the data economy in Africa, and its potential to boost the African-European data market exchange. The final report discussed the landscape of the African data economy and mapped the potential fields of common interest between the African and European Unions. It further synthesized findings from recent in-depth studies, as well as from indices on inclusive internet, affordability drivers and network readiness.

Mobile Data for Development (MD4D) Interactive Handbook

This interactive handbook, developed in collaboration with the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) serves as a hands-on resource to help mid-to-senior level staff of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and other interested parties understand and develop MD4D projects. DPA’s contribution to the handbook involved structuring key content and presenting use cases, lessons and experiences developed in different contexts (e.g. our work with cell-phone metadata in Colombia, Senegal, Lebanon, and the Maldives). The project also took into consideration the new demands and challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for the operationalization of these data.

GIZ Customized Data Sharing Toolbox and Recommendations for GIZ’s Data Strategy

The GIZ FAIR Forward (GIZ FF) Artificial Intelligence initiative aims to promote and achieve a more open, inclusive and sustainable approach to AI at an international level. With partners in Uganda, the initiative seeks, specifically, to 1) strengthen local technical know-how on AI; 2) to remove entry barriers to AI by improving access to training data and AI technologies for local innovation; and 3) to develop policy frameworks ready for AI including ethical AI, data protection and privacy. In the framework of this consultancy, Data-Pop Alliance supported GIZ FF in the creation of fact-sheets and reports, and contributed to GIZ partnerships and events, including virtual working group meetings, events, and study trips, among others. In addition to this, DPA supported the creation and implementation of a data governance model in Uganda.

Project Cycle Hacking Toolkit: Leveraging Non-Traditional Data Sources Along the GIZ Project Cycle

In partnership with the GIZ Data Lab, this project sought to create a Toolkit to guide GIZ in the use of nontraditional data sources throughout the project lifecycle. The tool was designed and developed from a thorough analysis of GIZ processes, aiming to understand how and where non-traditional sources of data can be leveraged in the formulation, design, implementation and evaluation of their projects. The Toolkit, which has an user-centered design, was tested and tried during two workshops to support GIZ Ecuador’s “Ciudades Intermedia Sostenibles” II.

National Big Data Strategy for Colombia

The MIT Media Lab and DPA provided technical assistance to iNNpulsa—Colombia’s entrepreneurship and innovation agencyand to the National Planning Department (DNP), in the design and development of the country’s first national Big Data strategy, which was presented to the President of Colombia in 2020. After intensive research, DPA produced nine diagnostic documents that were used to identify priority areas and specific actions that would generate the necessary synergies to achieve 4 strategic objectives of the project: 1) strengthen the Big Data ecosystem in the country, 2) develop analytical capabilities for greater and better use of data, 3) foster the digital economy, and 4) promote the adoption of Big Data solutions and AI for public administration. In that sense, an implementation proposal and two pilot projects in Colombia were completed, along with an impact evaluation and two training workshops.