Digital destiny for development, says Secretary-General

Game-changing innovation has a key role in supercharging the sustainable development of Commonwealth member countries.

Opening the latest in a series of Data, Technology and Digitalisation workshops organised by the Secretariat, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland emphasised how transformative technologies, combined with good quality accessible data and digital skills, are part of the Commonwealth’s vision and practical action towards a more inclusive world.

The Secretary-General said: “I am delighted to open an event with such distinguished experts, who will guide us through the process of applying transformative technologies in all kinds of situations – whether tackling entrenched inequalities, sudden crises, natural disasters or the pandemic.”

Ground-breaking technology

The Secretary-General cited examples of how ground-breaking technologies have the potential to improve the design, implementation, and evaluation of public policies.

In Nigeria, it is estimated that a move by the government to digitise payments could save nearly 2% of the country’s entire GDP.

“When governments put technology into practice millions of people can be helped,” she said.

The Secretary-General said this was particularly evident in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak when some emergency responders had to leave their patients for days to collect payments from a regional office.

“By introducing a mobile wallet system, the government was able to save lives and better allocate resources where they were needed most.”

Other transformative technologies speeding up the pace of change across the Commonwealth include the use of Chatbots to improve national Covid response in South Africa, drones to deliver medical supplies in Rwanda, digital identity to enhance government service provision in India, 3-D printing in various sectors in Jamaica and blockchain in supply chains in Canada.

Benefits for all citizens

The Secretary-General said: “These technologies are there for our member states to exploit in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the delivery of national and regional priorities. And I can assure you that the Commonwealth Secretariat is totally committed to supporting our member states to harness transformative technologies – for the benefit of every one of the Commonwealth’s 2.5 billion citizens.”

The webinar was delivered virtually through panel discussion, expert presentations, and impact stories, with aim to contribute to the Secretariat’s agenda on technology and digitalisation and outputs to be used to enrich discussions leading up to CHOGM 2022.

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