Here’s our bet: Bill & Melinda Gates list priorities for 2015

In their annual letter the couple said the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history


A file photo of Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Photo: Bloomberg
A file photo of Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Bill and Melinda Gates have predicted a dramatic improvement in the lives of the poor over the next one-and-a-half decades. In their Annual Letter, titled, “Our Big Bet for the Future,” released on Thursday, the couple said the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history.

“Here’s our bet: We’re putting our credibility, time and money behind this bet because we think there has never been a better time to accelerate progress and have a big impact around the world,” the two write. Here’s what they say, in their own words:

1. By 2030, global child deaths will go down by half.

In 1990, one in 10 children in the world died before age 5. Today, it’s one in 20. By 2030, it will be one in 40. Almost all countries will include vaccines for diarrhea and pneumonia, two of the biggest killers of children, in their immunization programs. Better sanitation will cut the spread of disease dramatically.

With more and more women delivering babies in hospitals, there will be a reduction of women who die in childbirth by two thirds.

The last time we cut the child death rate in half, it took 25 years. We will do it again in 15 years.

2. Africa will be able to feed itself.

The world has already developed better fertilizer and crops that are more productive, nutritious, and drought- and disease-resistant; with access to these and other existing technologies, African farmers could theoretically double their yields. With the right investments, we can deliver innovation and information to enough farmers in Africa to increase productivity by 50 percent for the continent overall. Famine will strike less often—and when it does, it will be African countries that take care of the response.

3. Mobile banking will help the poor transform their lives.

In the next 15 years, digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives. Already, in the developing countries with the right regulatory framework, people are storing money digitally on their phones and using their phones to make purchases, as if they were debit cards. By 2030, 2 billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones. And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.

4. Better software will revolutionize learning.

Countries where girls don’t go to school or women can’t open a business will be left behind. Before a child even starts primary school, she will be able to use her mom’s smartphone to learn her numbers and letters, giving her a big head start. Software will be able to see when she’s having trouble with the material and adjust for her pace. Many of today’s online classes are disconnected from career paths, but that will change too. Suppose you want to be a health worker; you’ll be able to find out what level of math, chemistry, and other subjects you need to meet the requirements, and you’ll be able to do much of the work online. Some content will need to be localized for different places and languages. As the cost goes down and incomes go up, more people will have the means, and we’ll be well on our way to providing high-quality education for everyone.

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