Online Networks and Their Potential to Improve Development

    The military, corporations, advocacy groups and politicians have long utilized networks to organize stakeholders around a specific mission. The development community has been slow to adopt similar strategies.

    Leveraging networks can play a key role in democratic transitions, said Ulrich F.W. Ernst, DAI senior adviser on structural reform policy, at a Feb. 10 event in Washington to highlight a DAI publication on network-centric development. The event was organized by Devex.

    Ernst later spoke about the potential of mobile phones to spur development. The event also featured Development Practitioners Forum President Tony Barclay. DAI's Kristi Ragan discussed new USAID strategies to spur aid innovation, the importance of trust in online networks, and the need to rethink our approach to technology. Guy Ben-Ari, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, highlighted civil-military cooperation and key prerequisites for building networks of development stakeholders. Cesar Hidalgo, of Harvard's Center for International Development, spoke about the Internet's role to foster community, and how network science may explain economic growth patterns.

    About the author

    • Oliver Subasinghe

      Oliver joined Devex in late 2008 as an international development correspondent and researcher. He previously served as a microfinance fellow for Kiva in Kenya and Uganda. During his tenure, he worked with Kiva’s field partners to improve their operations and governance. Oliver holds a master's in business from the College of William & Mary.

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