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Digital Platforms

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What are digital platforms?

Digital platforms enable the networking of stakeholders, the dissemination of information, the processing of transactions and the award of job orders. They operate according to the same principle as a market place in the analogue world: The organiser brings together buyer and seller, information provider and recipient, or exchange partners.

It is essentially possible to distinguish between corporate platforms (business to business), customer platforms (business to customer) and administrative platforms (government to citizen).


Video: Platforms (english subtitles available)


Digital platforms in the Corona response

Information and public sensitization campaigns have a central role in the battle against the Pandemic. Digital knowledge and communication platforms have the objective to provide a response to the demand for information made by citizens on the disease, producing and disseminating truthful information and recommendations on the prevention and control of coronavirus transmission. Solutions such as chatbots and educational apps can spread good practices about social distancing and basic sanitation rules limiting fake news. Digital technologies and telecommunication can be used to diffuse the information about COVID even in remote areas providing information on prevention about COVID even on low cost devices.

Telemedicine platforms allows health care professionals and patients to meet by phone or video chat. Telemedicine can help in reaching remote areas, and in general areas with limited availability of health care professionals. At the same time, telemedicine can help in flattening the curve of infections reducing the contacts of patients amongst themselves and with doctors. Health care professionals can be deployed in ad hoc way when and where needed, increasing the efficiency of the organization of the workforce.

How can you use platforms in your project?

To find out whether and how you can make use of platforms in your projects, the following questions may be useful:

Question 1/8

Are there stakeholders in the partner country that can only be networked with a great deal of effort at present (e.g. employers and employees)?

Question 2/8

Are the goods, services or information of any public or private stakeholders to be made accessible to the public at large in the course of the project?

Question 3/8

Are any employment or further training opportunities to be created in the course of my project?

Question 4/8

Is there a problem in your area that could be solved for the target group with a platform approach?

Question 5/8

Is there an issue or a problem in the partner country for which information or proposed solutions can be collected centrally and so made visible and transparent, and contribute to solving the problem?

Question 6/8

Are different, geographically separate or unknown groups intended to work together on an in initiative in the course of the project?

Question 7/8

Are any employment or further training opportunities to be created in the course of the project?

Question 8/8

Does the target group include any SMEs / vendors or entrepreneurs in the informal sector for whom simple market access would be an advantage?


You answered %s questions with yes, you should consider setting up digital platforms within your project. The Department 112 of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the sector programme Digitisation in GIZ will be happy to advise you (sv-digitalisierung@giz.de).


You have answered No to all the questions. The Smart Development components offer basic approaches for the correct implementation of digitisation as standard in development cooperation. Please feel free to find out about the other components. Department 112 of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the sector programme Digitisation for Sustainable Development will be happy to advise you.

Usage potential for our key topics

Picture 1/5: Deutsche Welthungerhilfe's app is a platform for farmers without modern agricultural machinery, connecting them with commercial or private suppliers of machinery for production, processing and transport and transparently disclosing the contractual relationship and pricing.
Picture 2/5: The platform of the World Food Program brings relief organizations together in emergency and disaster situations, helps to logistically coordinate the measures and compiles basic information for the helpers.
Picture 3/5: The Kenyan start-up company Sendy established the first on-demand courier service for direct deliveries in Kenya. Sendy connects customers with motorcycle and truck drivers and offers transport capacity from a single motorcycle to 20T trucks.
Picture 4/5: KfW's digital management platform SICAR protects rainforests in Brazil: KfW Entwicklungsbank uses it to support small landowners both in registering their land in the environmental register and in drawing up plans to restore degraded areas.
Picture 5/5: The Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN) is a global initiative supporting the scaling and replication of inclusive business models. The innovative platform provides the possibility of peer learning and facilitates effective partnerships.


Advantages of platforms for German development cooperation?

Digital platforms can be usefully employed in German development cooperation projects to network target groups with one another, to stimulate exchange trading or to make information quickly and widely accessible. Other advantages can be derived from specific characteristics of the platforms. These include:

Flexibility and Scalability

For example, platforms can be used for the purpose of job placement. To avoid the exploitation of the platform workers by means of mutual price underbidding, the BMZ-supported Fairwork Foundation has developed five principles of fair work on digital platforms, by means of which they can be assessed. These criteria are as follows: fair payment, fair terms and conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. They are currently helping around 70 million people in partner countries to find an online job. They enable the outsourcing and crowd-sourcing of jobs across national borders.

Platforms can also serve as loan and exchange facilities. For example, they network local tractor hire firms with farmers, who can compare their offers directly and quickly online.

Transparency and Efficiency

The information which is available to the users on platforms makes the market more transparent and less susceptible to corruption. The information can also often be accessed with a single click, making it faster and more efficient than analogue alternatives.

For optimum use in development cooperation projects, it is important for platforms to generate significant network effects. The more users, the more useful they are. The same applies for the data which is generated: The more data, the better the offering can be structured, the greater the value of the platform. The platform becomes all the more attractive for other providers to offer services on the platform.

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