Digital Pathways at Oxford

Digital Pathways at Oxford examines the challenges of digital transformation and asks how developing countries can govern digital technologies to ensure inclusive growth.

Building on the work of the Pathways for Prosperity Commission, Digital Pathways at Oxford produces cutting-edge research across the fields of public policy, law, economics, computer science, and political science to support informed decision-making on the governance of digital technologies, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. This knowledge provides the foundations for practical engagement with governments and policymakers: synthesising research into impact-oriented policy advice, and building a network of practitioners and experts in digital governance.

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About the programme

Digital technologies are fundamentally changing societies and economies. We conduct cutting-edge research mapping the legal and policy challenges that arise with the spread of digital technologies – investigating how governance frameworks are being strained and reshaped by the digitalisation of the economy – and provide concrete proposals to improve them.

We have established a research agenda with three streams: regulation of the digital economy, trust and cybersecurity, and digital technologies aiming to improve service provision and inclusive growth.

Our work is by its nature global, but we have a key focus on developing countries, and our research and policy engagement agenda is grounded in a clear appreciation for their political, institutional, social, and economic realities.

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Remembering Benno Ndulu

Our team at Digital Pathways was incredibly fortunate to have worked with Professor Benno Ndulu and benefited from his academic expertise, career experiences and personal wisdom. He had previously been academic co-director of the Pathways to Prosperity Commission. Benno passed away in February 2021; we feel his loss keenly and keep him in mind as we continue the projects that he worked on with us.

Read our tribute to Professor Benno Ndulu.

Research projects

Our projects are rooted in three workstreams within digital technology research.

These  are economic regulation, improvements in service provision and inclusive growth, and trust and cybersecurity.

  • In the regulation of the digital economy stream, we investigate what regulatory frameworks are required, at both national and international levels, to ensure that the maximum economic and social benefits are derived from digital tech, for the largest number of people. We aim to support innovation and emerging business models by anticipating and tackling the various risks and challenges in this area. We are working on several projects, focusing on aspects of digital trade in the UK and internationally.  
  • For the stream focusing on improvements in service provision and inclusive growth, we research how governments can use digital technologies to improve policy outcomes for all. As well as examining how digital inclusion is measured, we have additional projects looking into the influence of gender norms and also the use of technology to motivate children’s learning.
  • Our work on trust and cybersecurity looks at how cybersecurity policies and strategies could mitigate cyber risks while also building resilience and trust in digital technologies. Ongoing projects include work on cybersecurity in education, and for governments.

In-country engagement

We work with governments to implement the Digital Economy Kit, a cross-cutting framework and process that coordinates a country’s actions in the digital space into a cohesive, comprehensive strategy for inclusive economic growth.

We have completed this process in: South Africa, Ethiopia, Mongolia and Malawi, and are currently working with Bangladesh and Benin.