The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Gap Task Force released its last report on MDG 8 - the Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development - this past week.
It contains some very candid remarks about the role of MDG 8 in stimulating technology transfer vs. what has naturally occurred globally through the global diffusion of ICT:
Perhaps the most dramatic and unexpected development tracked by the Task Force took place in the global diffusion of information and communications technologies (ICTs) that Goal 8 sought to promote. The spread of mobile telephone subscriptions rose from 10 per cent of the population in developing countries in 2000 to about 90 per cent in 2014. Internet access is lagging (only 32 per cent of the people in these countries have Internet access thus far), but it can be expected to continue to grow rapidly based on the spread of mobile broadband access. It would be inaccurate to claim that inclusion in Goal 8 was responsible for the impressive spread of mobile phone technology. Capable enterprises saw an opportunity for profitable expansion of their industry and, enabled by supportive policy environments, were able to act on that incentive. Equally capable pharmaceutical enterprises did not spread affordable essential medicines throughout the developing world because profit incentives led them in other directions—except in instances where policy pressures and the glare of public opinion had an impact, as in the case of HIV/AIDS medications. Coupled with the observations above on ODA, trade and debt, it is clear that the “partnership” element in the global partnership for development is first and foremost a partnership among States.1 However, it is also clear that mobilized public advocacy has been essential in moving Governments to take direct actions and adopt policy frameworks that may translate into effective means of implementation of the international goals and targets. The Task Force intended that its reports help in this regard.
Definitely worth thinking about carefully as we head into the 2030 sustainable development era and Goal 17 and its proposal for a Technology Facilitation Mechanism.