USAID’s first-ever Digital Strategy charts an agency-wide approach to development in a rapidly evolving digital age. The Strategy seeks to achieve and sustain open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems that contribute to broad-based, measurable development and humanitarian assistance outcomes.
To help achieve this goal, USAID developed the Digital Ecosystem Framework, a practical structure that identifies the core and cross-cutting elements of a country's digital ecosystem and guides USAID's digital development work. The Framework is organized around three separate, overlapping pillars:
- digital infrastructure and adoption;
- digital society, rights, and governance; and
- digital economy.
It also encompasses four cross-cutting topics: inclusion, cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and geopolitical positioning.
Digital Frontiers is implementing activities across all three pillars and supporting USAID to strengthen open, inclusive, and secure digital ecosystems around the world. Digital Frontiers buy-in activities have engaged USAID Missions around the world in the design and implementation of programs that support the Digital Strategy and the strengthening of digital ecosystems. Through our work, Digital Frontiers is making a concerted effort to help USAID seed Digital Strategy-aligned approaches throughout the Agency.
The flagship initiative of the Digital Strategy, the DECA identifies development opportunities and risks in a country’s digital ecosystem and informs decision-making about digital programming and investments. The DECA helps Missions and the broader U.S. Government have a common understanding and approach toward engaging partner country digital ecosystems.
In countries where USAID operates, governments, private sector, civil society, and individuals are increasingly adopting digital tools and services without the necessary resources to combat cyber vulnerabilities that come with increased digitalization. Strengthening cybersecurity is a guiding practice of USAID’s 2020 – 2024 Digital Strategy, which identifies cybersecurity as a first-order strategic and operational priority for the Agency’s programming to mitigate the risks stemming from accelerated digital technology adoption.
USAID will continue its commitment to advancing women’s social and economic empowerment by closing the gender digital divide. This initiative has developed tools and training resources to design programs that help close the gender digital divide.
Digital literacy is an essential component of efforts to expand the use of digital technology in developing countries. USAID’s approach to digital programming must extend beyond access to physical devices and infrastructure and ensure that users possess a nuanced set of skills to meaningfully, responsibly, and safely participate in their digital ecosystem. Incorporating digital literacy into development programming is central to the Agency’s approach to strengthen the security and resilience of partner country digital ecosystems.
This initiative ensures the Agency and its partners are routinely identifying and answering pressing digital development research questions. In collaboration with private, academic, governmental, and non-governmental institutions, USAID will use the DRLA to gather evidence, test interventions, coordinate and enhance research, and continually adapt best practices for existing and emerging digital technologies.