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We believe in investing in a people-first digital future. So do our research fellows.

Today, the global population is increasingly dependent on digital solutions to power their everyday lives. People use messaging apps to connect with loved ones; buy food and basic goods through digital wallets; and benefit from government digital systems that run hospitals, water and power networks, and public transport.

At the same time, digital public infrastructure (DPI) is being used to address some of biggest issues society faces. In the Philippines, OpenTraffic is being used to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion, reducing carbon emissions from transportation. In Pakistan, DPI is enabling instant payments for rural women, creating access to financial services for the first time.

In short, digitization is transforming the lives and communities around the world. But digitization isn’t always as rosy as it seems. Let’s take climate change. DPI can present a risk of extreme energy consumption and e-waste while the huge amounts of data gathered can be misused and abused. Thus, we must ensure DPI contributes positively to the fight against the climate crisis. Otherwise, we may simply end up adding fuel to the fire.

Getting digitization right, whether to tackle climate change or improve gender equity, requires a deep understanding of the complex interplay between digital transformation and other societal issues.

Our research fellowship

We are proud to announce the launch of our first cohort of Research Fellows, bringing together a small group of multidisciplinary academics, digital development practitioners, and digital rights experts, working at the forefront of digital transformation efforts around the world.

Alongside our team of leading digital development experts, our Research Fellows will explore the opportunities, risks, and interdependencies between DPI and the following themes:

Why these themes matter

The potential for digital public infrastructure is immense in its ability to extend the reach of essential services in ways that cultivate trust and inclusion – and help build a future where everyone can thrive.

  1. DPI can underpin solutions for climate change mitigation. It can aid in tracking and planning for adverse weather events as well as support rapid response mechanisms in times of disaster. And that’s just the beginning.
  2. DPI opens opportunities for greater gender equity. It paves the way for services, such as financial inclusion, that can significantly improve women’s lives and livelihoods.
  3. DPI requires strong governance. It necessitates an ecosystem approach where policymakers and financial institutions merge new technology specifications and business models with legal and policy instruments, thus guaranteeing wide-ranging public benefits.

During their one-year tenure, each Research Fellow will conduct original research on these themes, publishing several papers each and actively sharing their work with our cohort of partners, through our global communities of practice, at key events, and beyond.

Their efforts will contribute to our wider body of research and learning, which aims to offer practical guidance and actionable insights to ensure digital transformation benefits all people and helps advance a positive future for everyone, everywhere.

Meet our research fellows

Aditya Agrawal

Focus area: Climate resilience and response X digital public infrastructure.

Learn about Aditya

Teki Akuetteh

Focus area: Gender inclusion X digital public infrastructure.

Learn about Teki

Venkatesh Hariharan

Focus area: Good governance of digital platforms X digital public infrastructure.

Learn about Venky