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Digital tech is like a hummingbird pollinating humankind with knowledge

Mar 11, 2024

[Shenzhen, China, March 11, 2024] Information and communications technology is key to ending global poverty – but only with universal access to digital skills and platforms, warns leading economist Jeffrey Sachs.

"Advanced digital technologies will play a breakthrough role in raising productivity in every sector of the economy, and hence can be key in accelerating the end of poverty," claims Prof. Sachs in an interview published in the latest edition of Transform, Huawei's thought leadership magazine.


Noted economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and Dr. Christina Yan Zhang on the cover of Transform #14

"Of course," Sachs cautions, "If the digital divide widens, ICT can also exacerbate inequalities…¬The key is to ensure universal access to the skills and digital platforms needed across the society."

In just six years, the United Nations aims to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide and reduce by half the proportion of people living in poverty. Yet more than 700 million people remain stuck at incomes of less than the International Poverty Line of US$2.15 a day, a threshold set by the World Bank.

Information and communications technology (ICT) is recognized as a key factor in helping individuals escape poverty or mitigate its most damaging effects. ICT also helps countries raise living standards by fueling economic growth.

For those and other reasons, the new edition of Transform presents a decidedly optimistic perspective hidden amidst the cautionary tales.

Otaviano Canuto, a former World Bank vice-president and deputy finance minister in Brazil, says that, ideally, ICT will deliver knowledge and enhance people's capabilities.

"A major function of the World Bank is to play a hummingbird role," Canuto says. "Hummingbirds pollinate flowers, and these multilateral institutions can also pollinate with knowledge."

This pollination is especially crucial for people living in cities, where 80% of the world's population will live by 2050. Christina Yan Zhang, CEO of the Metaverse Institute, says technology will be vital in delivering services to citizens through what she calls the "CitiVerse."

"That term is a combination of 'citizen' and 'Metaverse,' she says. "We're looking at how we can develop future cities where we put the needs of the citizens at the center. In the past, smart city developments haven't always achieved the best outcomes...Sometimes there is a focus on technology for its own sake, rather than on how technology can be used to improve the lives of people."

The latest interviews in the magazine and other thought leadership content can be found on the Transform web site.


Published every two months, Transform is an online and print magazine that runs video interviews, newsmaker profiles, and feature articles that examine the relationship between technology, business, and society. A PDF of the magazine can be downloaded from the web site, and a hard-copy edition is available in some geographic locations and upon request.

Each edition is about one topic. Recent examples include cyber security, healthcare, and finance.

For more information about Transform, please contact Transform Editor Winter Wright (, or Editor-in-Chief Gavin Allen (

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