A new digital deal for an inclusive post-COVID-19 social compact: developing digital strategies for social and economic reconstruction

For many people around the world, digital technologies have enabled the continuation of work, education, and communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for half the world’s population who cannot connect to the internet, the pandemic has put a renewed spotlight on the uneven access to and distribution of digital technologies globally. This enduring digital divide undermines governments’ abilities to harness technologies for the efficient and safe delivery of necessary services online, and that in turn means education, commerce, and relief support is not accessible for many who need it most.

This project will study the linkages between the informal economy and the digital transformation of governance. Among the issues under examination are the potential to “formalize” small firms and thus increase the tax base that funds social protection; the impact of digital services during lockdown and eventual recovery; the factors that undermine digital access; and the role of democratic governance and accountability. The project aims to inform policy debates on the role of digitalization in the management of disasters and pandemics, and the economic and social reconstruction of emerging economies. It will provide immediate signals to policymakers on the strengths and deficiencies of current response strategies and help create conditions for economic recovery through improved information flows and efficiencies associated with digitization.

The project will involve six countries: Colombia, India, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, and will generate comparisons with other countries in those regions.

Project ID


Project status



36 months

IDRC Officer

Ruhiya Seward

Total funding

CA$ 1,668,100


Colombia, India, Nigeria, Peru, South of Sahara, South Asia, Sri Lanka


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Alison Gillwald


Research ICT Africa

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website