The initiative is part of a digital transformation programme by Japan International Cooperation Agency and Accenture to pilot projects in six countries across Asia and Africa.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) has announced pilot programmes to support digital transformation (DX) in six countries across Asia and Africa.
As Japan’s central governmental organisation providing economic and social aid for developing nations, Jica is prioritising the application of digital technologies to address development challenges.
In June 2020, Jica established the Office for STI and DX in the Governance and Peacebuilding Department to leverage digital technologies in Japan’s international development operations to boost development impacts.
To further this movement, global professional services firm Accenture will support the pilots in the six countries – Cambodia, India, Mauritius, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam – through February 2022. Jica said it intends to then extend and develop the pilots into model projects for digital transformation mainstreaming in international cooperation and development.
The pilot projects include:
- Cambodia ‒ digital currency verification
- India ‒ a public-private platform to improve loan efficiency
- Mauritius – feasibility study of smart city OS for disaster management
- Thailand ‒ assessing the feasibility of using artificial intelligence for water pipeline management
- Uganda ‒ using data integration and analysis for refugee support facilities
- Vietnam ‒ facilitating citizens’ behavioural change through predictive modelling of water quality.
“The rapid development of digital technology is inspiring an increasing number of emerging countries to adopt new technologies and services to accelerate their development of industry and social services,” said Mikiya Saito, who leads the Office for STI and DX in the Governance and Peacebuilding Department at Jica.
“Jica is committed to addressing a wide-range of development challenges around the world, and through this project, we hope to create a new model of cooperation leveraging digital technologies and data.”
For the Mauritius pilot, Accenture will conduct a feasibility study for a digital platform (smart city OS) for disaster management in the country — which being located in the southwestern Indian Ocean, experiences frequent cyclones, torrential rains, storm surges, floods, landslides and other disasters, causing extensive human and economic damage.
“The rapid development of digital technology is inspiring an increasing number of emerging countries to adopt new technologies and services to accelerate their development of industry and social services”
The smart city OS pilot will seek to test the effectiveness and explore further utilisation of a centralised information management system, including weather forecasting and other disaster-related data.
The team expects that the integration of meteorological information, satellite photos, water quality, data on animal and plant habitats and coastal environments, and berthing will yield benefits beyond disaster prevention and mitigation, supporting tourism and the protection of coral reefs.
“This collaboration with Jica on digital experience mainstreaming is a perfect fit for Accenture’s knowledge and experience in using digital technology to empower communities, public agencies, businesses,” added Joichi Ebihara, managing director of Accenture’s strategy and consulting group for the company’s healthcare and public service industry practices in Japan.
“As a company dedicated to helping our clients deliver value to their clients and stakeholders, we are especially excited to help Jica prioritise digital capabilities when serving serious needs in other countries. This initiative marks an exciting new chapter in recognising the power of ‘digital’ in economic development.”
Smart city OS is a digital platform that serves as the foundation for data collaboration and service provision in smart cities. With smart city OS, citizens can opt-in to provide their personal data to gain access to personalised services, and the government can use such data to shape policies and urban development.
The platform was first implemented in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima prefecture in 2015 and has subsequently been introduced in several other municipalities, Accenture reports.
Among the range of smart city services on the smart city OS is “my hazard,” which guides citizens to appropriate evacuation routes based on their location data at the time of a disaster. This project for Jica will be the first time that the platform is being tested for implementation outside Japan.