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Internet to inspire poorest nations

Britain is throwing its weight behind efforts to help people in the developing world use mobile phones and the internet to hold their governments to account.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening is launching an initiative to find ways of helping millions of people in the poorest countries harness technology to help secure change.

The Making All Voices Count project will be conducted in partnership between the Department for International Development (DfID), the United States Agency for International Development, the Swedish government and the philanthropic organisation Omidyar Network.

It reflects a new emphasis by Ms Greening on promoting technology with British aid, building on the experiences of the Arab Spring when social media was an important component in uprisings and revolutions across the Middle East.

The UK is also working with Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation to research ways of using the internet to improve lives in poorer nations.

In Pakistan, Britain is supporting an initiative to allow people to report corrupt officials to ministers directly through their mobile phones.

Progress on technology and transparency will be discussed at the Open Up! conference at London's Tech City, which is hosted by DfID and the Omidyar Network.

Ms Greening said: "With more than a thousand new mobile connections every minute in the developing world, we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure the voices of the poorest are heard.

"Mobile and web technology has the power to transform lives and improve the way governments work, but too often it has been overlooked. I am determined to use Britain's aid to help citizens have a say in their future, speak up when they face crime or incompetence and make it easier to trade and grow businesses."

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