Digitalisation and development is this year’s thematic focus for the annual Norad Conference.

The Norad Conference 2019: Digitalisation and development

Norad welcomes you to our annual conference in Oslo on 11 December 2019. This year’s thematic focus is digitalisation and development.

Revisit the 2019 Norad Conference

All presentations and panel discussions from the 2019 Norad Conference can be found here, for everyone interested in digitalisation and development to watch.

‘Our aim for the conference is to increase knowledge around digitalisation and achievement of the sustainable development goals; to create new partnerships between different actors and across traditional sectors; and to strengthen awareness and debate related to the opportunities and challenges digitalisation presents for human rights and democratic processes’, says Norad’s Director General, Jon Lomøy.

  • See full programme below. 
  • See more information on (in Norwegian). 

Way forward

A global, digital transformation is taking place that is radically changing not only the way we live and work, but also how we interact with each other.

In order for developing countries to utilise digital technology and to ensure that such opportunities benefit all, we must reduce the digital divide and break down barriers. This means constructing the necessary infrastructure, developing relevant and locally adapted digital solutions, and ensuring robust knowledge and skills enhancement in developing countries.

How can countries such as Norway contribute? The 2019 Norad Conference will present an inspiring group of international and Norwegian experts and innovators to show the way forward.

Digital inclusion

Although 3.9 billion people used the internet at the end of 2018, still 3.7 billion remain unable to participate fully in the digital community. Those who lack reliable, cheap access to digital technology largely belong to groups that are already marginalised or live in poor or rural areas.

This year’s Norad Conference highlights challenges and opportunities related to digitalisation and development. The conference provides an overview of access to and use of digital content and services worldwide, examining how digital tools are becoming available to a growing number of people. We will hear why and how Norwegian development cooperation must help to ensure that no one is left behind.

Digital public goods

Norway has a long and strong tradition for using public resources on public goods that have both national and international users, for example the Svalbard seed vault and Norway’s engagement in the International Climate and Forest Initiative to combat global warming.

Digital technologies, content and data are well suited to become public goods. Provided there is access to the Internet, the cost of reaching new users is almost zero, and one person’s use of a digital book, for example, does not prevent someone else from reading or downloading the same book.

However, if digital technologies, content and data are to become true public goods, it is not enough that they are freely available. They must also be openly licenced so that users know that the right to use this good is valid for all time.

Norway has taken a leading role in global efforts to develop and support digital public goods, and prominent experts in the field will attend the conference. Examples of digital public goods developed in Norway, including in health care, education and agriculture, will be presented.

Human rights and democratisation

Digital technology gives new opportunities to ensure inclusion, respect for human rights and democratisation. At the same time, new challenges are arising in relation to data protection, data security, and the possible misuse of the technology.

In this session we start by exploring the use of internet shutdowns, government restrictions on social media and constraints impacting civil society and human rights in the digital era. Secondly, we look into the key opportunities and challenges for multilateral organisations supporting the implementation of GovTech-programs in low- and middle-income countries, such as digital IDs. The session ends with a keynote on the future of the internet.

Harnessing frontier technologies for development

Finally, we look towards the future and examine what digital technologies are on the horizon and what they can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In theory, new technology may be of more importance in developing countries than in more developed countries, given that the needs for better and more efficient service delivery are greater in most sectors.

Machine learning, blockchain technology, extended reality and the Internet of Things are buzzwords in broader society as well as in the development sector. Norwegian and international experts will present new solutions that are already being implemented and discuss what opportunities the future may bring.

Push the plus sign to learn more about the sessions and participants. 


08.00: Registration

Everyone must pick up their name tag before entering the conference hall. Coffee will be served from 08.00. 

Have you remembered to sign up for the conference? If not, go to (registration form in Norwegian) 

09.00: Session 1: Digital inclusion

Opening remarks by Jon Lomøy, Norad's Director General

Participants in this session are: 

  • Claire Sibthorpe, Action Head of Mobile4Development, GSMA Foundation
  • Nanjira Sambuli, Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, WWW Foundation & member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation
  • Christine Holst, PhD researcher, Basic Internet Foundation / Centre for Global Health, University of Oslo
  • Miora Randriambeloma, Africa Business Development and Partnerships Director, KaiOS
  • Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, Norway

10.00: Session 2 Digital public goods 

Participants in this session are: 

  • Aissatou Bah, Head of Global Partnerships Directorate of Science and Technology, Sierra Leone
  • Tanuj Bhojwani, Fellow, iSPIRT
  • Christopher Fabian, Head of UNICEF Innovation
  • Liv Marte Nordhaug, Project Manager Digital Empowerment Project, Norad
  • Jørn Kristiansen, Department Director, Norwegian Meteorological Institute
  • Kristin Braa, Professor, Vice Head of the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo
  • Henrik Fliflet, Senior Adviser, NICFI, Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment

11.00: Lunch 

Lunch is served in an adjacent room to the conference hall and the lobby. 

12.00: Session 3: Digitalisation, democratisation and human rights

Participants in this session are: 

  • Alp Toker, Executive Director, Netblocks
  • Douglas Rutzen, President & CEO, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
  • Nanjira Sambuli, Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, WWW Foundation & member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation
  • Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer, UNDP
  • Vyjayanti Desai, Program Manager ID4D, World Bank
  • Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation

13.15: Break

Coffee and tea will be served. 

13.45: Session 4: Harnessing frontier technologies for development 

Participants in this session are: 

  • Sriramya Gainedi, Product Marketing Manager, Google
  • Christer Gundersen, Chief Technology Officer, Global Digital Library
  • Aya Miyaguchi, Executive Director, Ethereum Foundation
  • Sofie Blakstad, CEO HiveOnline and Sustainable Fintech Expert, Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance
  • Chris Fabian, Head of UNICEF Innovation
  • Morten Wenstad, Vice President, EON Reality
  • Ieva Martinkenaite, Vice President, Telenor Research
  • George King, Directorate of Science and Technology, Sierra Leone

Closing remarks by Bård Vegar Solhjell, the next Norad Director General

15.00: Afterparty 

Meet the conference participants! The conference audience is invited to an afterparty immediately following the conference, in an adjacent room to the conference hall. Light refreshments will be served. 

Published 27.11.2019
Last updated 27.11.2019