Outcomes drive strategy, not the other way around.
The Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance (GBI)—an initiative of USAID implemented by NetHope—was established to reduce the digital divide in developing countries, especially in rural areas, and demonstrate the value of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a driver of socioeconomic development outcomes. GBI had begun investing in a wide range of demonstration projects and needed a way to demonstrate results and aggregate them across its portfolio of activities to show the broader impact of its investments. In addition, GBI needed a way to make the case to key USAID stakeholders that expanding broadband and mobile networks and investing in innovative applications could contribute to its broader development goals.
We began by reviewing current research and interviewing a wide range of stakeholders to identify the specific features of broadband and mobile networks and ICT applications that could lead to socioeconomic improvements in people’s lives in developing countries.
In regards to broadband and mobile networks, we identified three primary indicators that were crucial to closing the digital divide: access (accelerating and expanding broadband and mobile infrastructure in rural areas), affordability (service fees that are proportional to targeted users’ incomes) and reliability (consistent and high quality services that will support a wide range of users’ activities on those networks).
On the ICT applications question, we identified three valuable features of these beneficial applications: improving the efficiency of the delivery of socio-economic services; expanding the reach of those services (especially the per beneficiary cost and the ease of accessing those services on the user’s side); and increasing beneficiaries’ level of engagement with the content or service offered through the application.
Our team assessed the contribution each GBI demonstration project would make toward these common indicators and how those activities led to changed behaviors, greater economic opportunities and improved quality of life among target beneficiaries. The resulting data would allow GBI to benchmark different models against each other and prioritize the models that yielded the greatest impact.
GBI is currently using the framework developed by Mission Measurement to identify the highest-value models for future investment.
The GBI team gained specific learnings from the engagement, including: how to rate the effectiveness of demonstration projects at producing high-value development results; how to make tactical changes based on data especially when replicating the model in another context; and how to market results to attract potential future partners.