Considering the future of development

“Our best decisions are made when we take not only our current needs into account, but when we consider how they will be affected by the state of the world in the future”. Or so says Gustavo Montes de Oca, an intern at London-based Forum for the Future. In this guest post, Gustavo takes us through four of his key ‘development future’ thoughts, and invites you to add more by joining their ongoing discussion

A development future...The global development community is particularly focused on the future (for example, the MDGs, or Millennium Development Goals) working to future targets of poverty reduction, health improvement and equality. But what are the factors working with or against these aims, and how will they pan out in the next 20 to 30 years?

Four trends which I think will play an important part in shaping the future of development are:

First, massive growth in ICT and applications: ICT has arguably already done more for Africa than aid. With the arrival of fibre optics this will continue. $100 dollar computers in every house eclipsed by device in every pocket, serving individual and group needs. (Further information on ICTs are available in this Database of mobile applications)

Second, the “Reaspora”: People whose origins, however defined, are in the countries of Africa and southeast Asia but who live in the West have seen where that model of development leads and are taking an interest in helping their countries and regions avoid the pitfalls – and seize on the opportunities – ahead. (See sites such as the Reaspora Blog and BarCamp Africa)

Third, South – South cooperation: Cooperation between people in different low-income regions is increasing. Since they live in the same context as each other it is easiest for them to come up with solutions, including the adaptation of technologies from the developed world

Fourth, Girl effect and women in power: A woman – or girl – will reinvest 90% of her income in her family. A man will reinvest 30% – 40%. This sense of stewardship combined with growing power (two-thirds of the Rwandan Parliament is made up of women) could see women play a growing part in leading their countries down alternative, more sustainable development paths

These are my four for starters. What am I missing?

Forum for the Future is a charity committed to sustainable development which focuses on the root causes and connections between big issues such as climate change, social inequality and environmental degradation. If you would like to find out more about their work, and join in with this (and many other) discussions, visit them online at

26 thoughts on “Considering the future of development

  1. tms ruge says:

    Hi Ken,

    Great article. I think however, that you are defining “reaspora” too narrowly. Alone is not the full picture. You can’t have an effective reaspora without a diaspora as a basis. There’s far more investment/remittance/development activity within the diaspora than in the reaspora. Reaspora activity is end-game for a subset of active diasporans.

    Further, the (classic) African Diaspora – a full 167 million strong – is a bit deceiving. Many of the classic diaspora, that is, descendants of slavery have no emotional, economic of cultural tie to Africa. It’s the neo diaspora – voluntary migrants who’ve left the continent since the end of colonial rule in the 1960s – are the key to development in Africa, singularly because of that direct emotional linkage.

    See also:

    Thanks Ken, good discussion

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  9. Sean Meade says:

    I was wondering where I should go to join the discussion (on the Forum website)? There is a blog but doesn’t seem to be anywhere to post comments on the topic here. Thanks!

  10. kiwanja says:

    @Teddy – Thanks for your comments. Really interesting breakdown and explanation. Thanks also for the link. 🙂

    @Sean – This is one for Forum For The Future, but thanks for reading!

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