Retrospective: Digital Strategies for Development Summit 2015

If you ever asked yourself ‘how can digital technology be used for social good’, then you probably have not heard of the Digital Strategies for Development Summit, or better known as DSDS. The summit acknowledges the importance of creating relevant strategies and tools that will deliver solutions related to technological strategies and development.

After the success of its first run in 2014, DSDS 2015 has brought together delegates and speakers from various organisations to discuss, debate and develop new ideas to ‘accelerate inclusive development through innovative ICT solutions’; which just so happens to be the theme this year.

With over 600 participants from more than 25 countries, the conference held in Cebu City’s biggest indoor event hall at the Waterfront Hotel, had 6 plenaries that centered on various sectors and communities.

Let’s break some down for you:

Plenary 1 – Innovative ICT for Education, Employment, SME and Entrepreneurship (EESE)

This session highlighted the best practices in using ICTs in the promotion of EESE. With key individuals from international agencies, successful corporations and civil societies, the discussion further explored the current trends around the globe and in the Asia-Pacific region.

ICT is also changing the quality of education – and this was discovered through successfully identified strategies that can be adopted among the governments, industry and academia to support youth employment and entrepreneurship.

Plenary 2 – Addressing Gender Equality

As with most social issues addressing the genders, the ICT sector also faces a gender divide. This panel discussion acknowledged the efforts made by the industry to lessen the existing inequalities, however the gender digital divide can only be addressed by tools specifically designed to benefit women – especially those that have less ICT opportunities and access to ICT than men.

Plenary 3 – ICT for Sustainable Agricultural Development

One of the more popular uses for technology, panelists shared their experiences in collecting data, monitoring, and evaluation in their respective projects related to agricultural and rural development. While it was agreed in the room that there still remains considerable disparity in the capacity to implement ICT solutions, it was noted there is progress.

Plenary 4 – Healthcare Development & Social Innovation

Asia’s healthcare sector is projected to account for one third of the global market by 2015 and the panel was focused on tackling major constraints encountered in using ICTs effectively in the health sector of developing countries, particularly that of the Phillippines.

Another problem that was identified that the growing information divide between health professionals and the communities they serve.

What we learnt

No doubt, over the three days at DSDS 2015, it was clear that ICT is a powerful tool for development. However, there are still bridges to gap and holes to fill, especially with recent data showing that ‘connectivity’ between users in countries themselves are poor. This is why leaders, policy-makers and regulators are a vital infrastructure to promote an enabling ICT environment in the ASEAN region.