An update on our international development work

Just under a year ago, I blogged about Public Digital’s emerging work in international development. And last November, we published a special issue of Signals, featuring the work of affiliates and practitioners whose work we admire.

Since then, we’re proud to have partnered with more governments and development agencies. We’ve helped them adopt internet-era ways of working, and deliver digital services faster, and more sustainably, to better meet user needs. For instance, we have:

  • Continued our work with the Government of Madagascar, including to help build a new alpha team inside a government agency, and kick off work on a new digital service exemplar. We’ve also been helping the Government explore how to make public procurement of digital technologies and services more agile;
  • Worked with the EdTech Hub – a consortium supported by the Gates Foundation, DFID, and World Bank – to accelerate digital delivery. This included delivering prototype online services rapidly in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We also helped set up their new digital team, and advised on agile communications and content design, with our friends at Content Design London.
  • Advised on the delivery of mobile money initiatives in Rwanda and Ghana, with a special focus on the culture change, capabilities and communications needed to drive adoption of new mobile services;
  • Worked with a policy team in a UN agency to adopt agile, iterative, user-centred approaches to their work with governments in Africa, and to their communications;
  • Conducted user research and provided product management advice to inform the future of an African government’s open data website;
  • Spoken at a UNDP Arab States regional workshop on Digital Governance and Transformation for achieving the SDGs;
  • Begun working with a UNDP country office on a new innovation program, in partnership with Snowcone & Haystack;
  • Convened digital government leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and leading development finance institutions, as part of the Harvard-PD Digital Services Convening 2020

I’m also delighted we have grown our team. In March we welcomed Clement Uwajeneza. Clement is based in Kigali, and brings over 20 years’ technology leadership and entrepreneurship experience in both the public and private sectors in Africa, including leadership of Irembo.

A few weeks later we were joined by Claire Bedoui, who brings experience in tech start-ups, digital policy, and consulting. You can read her recent article in GovInsider.

Claire and Clement – along with Pascale Elvas, Claire Freund and Roger Oldham – are fluent French-speakers, enabling us to better serve our clients in Francophone Africa.

In total, more than 20 Public Digital staff and affiliates have worked on international development projects over the past year. Our clients have benefitted from their specialist expertise in technology leadership, agile delivery, product management, content design, user research, bureaucracy-hacking, talent acquisition, agile communications, procurement reform and more.

Looking down at the market in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Looking ahead

As stated in Public Digital’s Positions, public purpose defines us and our work. We aim to improve millions of people’s lives by helping institutions that matter to survive and thrive in the internet era – and that includes multilateral institutions and development agencies, as well as governments.

Over the coming year, we’re looking forward to helping set up more clients for success – whether that’s through defining and securing a mandate for transformation; a digital maturity assessment; a scoping study for a new digital initiative; setting up an alpha team; delivering an exemplar digital service; or executive coaching for senior leaders and teams.

We also want to help address the evidence gap on what makes digital public service delivery more likely to succeed or fail in different contexts – especially in African countries. You can find out more about that work and get involved.

Finally, we’ve written before about the importance of funding teams, not projects and the role of finance in transformation. We therefore want to work with more donors who are open to reviewing how they support digital government in developing countries.

As ever, if you’re interested in working with us, please email me at

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A regular scan about internet-era ways of working in public and private organisations around the world.