The private sector plays an important role in providing and using digital technologies such as e-health services or blockchain applications to enhance supply chain transparency, which can contribute to sustainable development. Development partners are therefore engaging with the private sector to support developing countries in their digital transformation processes. This briefing note looks at the Digital for Development (D4D) strategies of the European Union (EU), Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, and draws lessons for the design and implementation of private sector-related dimensions of such strategies.
Different D4D interventions require different levels of ‘digital readiness’. There are tradeoffs between prioritising countries with the greatest needs to help close digital divides and supporting more digitally developed countries. Considering and weighing these tradeoffs is important. Strategies should also take into account the pros and cons of working with and supporting different private sector actors. For instance, while start-ups can promote innovative digital solutions, working with them may pose greater risks than working with more established companies. Finally, D4D agendas need to be embedded throughout development partners’ governments, and communication and coordination between relevant actors, including the private sector, is vital.