Skip to main content

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

South Africa
South Asia
Sri Lanka
Project ID
Total Funding
CAD 1,668,100.00
IDRC Officer
Ruhiya Seward
Project Status
End Date
36 months

Programs and partnerships

Governance and Justice

Lead institution(s)


For many people around the world, digital technologies have enabled the continuation of work, education, and communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.Read more

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.

Research outputs

Access full library of outputs Opens in new tab
Roxana Barrantes , Alison Gillwald , Helani Galpaya



The purpose of this policy paper is to identify the points of policy intervention to identify or create those conditions that contribute to post-pandemic economic reconstruction and future pandemic resilience. It draws on three phases of research in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, focusing initially on South Africa, Nigeria, (Africa), Sri Lanka and India (Asia) and Peru and Colombia (Latin America), with later rounds incorporating findings gathered in other countries in the three regions. The first and second phases of the research set out to understand the status and potential role of digitalization and datafication in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gillwald, Alison



This report analyses the extent to which people in Nigeria were able to digitally substitute to mitigate the risk arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns. The report provides evidence of the degree to which people were able to take their work, schooling, and economic activity (such as e-commerce) online in Nigeria during the lockdowns and strict social distancing measures. Undertaking a demand-side analysis data collected through an extensive phone survey, the report also investigates the degree to which digital access to government systems enabled access to social grants and COVID-19 relief. From this it suggests how public policies could be optimised for post pandemic recovery and future policies.

Research ICT Africa
Access full library of outputs Opens in new tab