New World Bank focus on ICT for development
GOVERNMENT| July 29, 2012, 4:29 p.m.
The World Bank Group has released an ambitious new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy aimed at helping developing countries use ICT to transform delivery of basic services, drive innovations and productivity gains, and improve competitiveness.
The strategy reflects rapid changes in the ICT sector over the last decade, including a dramatic increase in use of mobile phones and the Internet, plunging prices of computing and mobile internet devices, and the increasing prevalence of social media.
“Information and communication technologies can help reduce poverty, boost economic growth, and improve accountability and governance,” said World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte. “The World Bank Group’s new strategy will help our client countries take advantage of the opportunities that ICT offers across all sectors of the economy, drawing on our unique expertise in public-private partnerships in the ICT sector.”
The new strategy for 2012-2015 builds on the Bank Group’s experience working with client countries on ICT sector reforms, infrastructure development, and electronic government:
Over the 2000s, Bank support for ICT sector reforms helped attract an estimated USD30 billion in private investment for mobile network infrastructure in the least developed countries. The IFC’s USD2.3 billion in telecommunications infrastructure investments and MIGA’s USD550 million in political risk guarantees also supported private investment in mobile service providers in difficult and high-risk environments.
Bank Group support for ICT applications has grown rapidly over the last decade, and over 70% of the 1,700 projects in the Bank’s active portfolio now have ICT components.
Since 2007, the Bank Group has intensified its support for public-private partnerships for broadband and high-speed Internet, helping bring down retail prices and increasing the take-up of services, in some instances by a factor of 10.
“The Strategy recognizes the vital role of the private sector in improving access to information infrastructure and services in developing countries,” said Rashad-Rudolf Kaldany, IFC Vice President for Global Industries. “IFC works with the private sector as an advisor, financier, and standard setter, to help unlock the potential of ICT for development.”
Stakeholders from 17 low- and middle-income countries and 4 OECD countries provided inputs for the new strategy, which emphasizes the transformative potential of ICT – in areas such as accountability, energy, and health – while maintaining a steady focus on ICT-enabled innovation and ICT infrastructure. Bank Group support will be directed to three priority areas:
- Transformation: Making development more open and accountable, and improving service delivery – for instance, by facilitating citizen feedback to governments and service providers.
- Connectivity: Scaling up affordable access to broadband – including for women, disabled citizens, disadvantaged communities, and people living in remote and rural areas.
- Innovation: Developing competitive IT-based service industries and fostering ICT innovation across the economy – with a focus on job creation, especially for women and youth.
The World Bank, IFC, and MIGA will work together to assist countries in unlocking the opportunities offered by ICT. For instance, the World Bank will provide support for appropriate policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks, as well as catalytic investment in ICT backbone infrastructure; IFC will provide financing and advisory services to mobile operators; and MIGA will provide guarantees to support the roll-out of telecommunications networks and services.
“MIGA has contributed to the rapid growth of access to ICT services in emerging countries by mitigating the political risk of investments. Under the new WBG strategy, MIGA will make available its insurance capacity to further accelerate ICT investments in higher-risk countries, notably fragile and post conflict countries, where ICT will be key to growth, job creation, sharing of knowledge, and governance,” said Michel Wormser, MIGA’s Vice President and COO.
The ICT strategy will adopt a new approach to implementation, including country diagnostics to help prioritize Bank Group interventions at the country level and leverage more partnerships with external sources of expertise. A results-based framework will be used to track progress.
MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS
Botswana Ministry introduces e-nnovationBotswana’s Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) is developing ways of getting the local youth to chart the technology waters by coming up with programmes that allow the them to be innovative for the benefit of the nation. Read More
Ghana to build largest data centre in West AfricaThe Ghana government, through the Ministry of Communications, is currently constructing what it believes will be the largest data centre within the West African sub region. Read More
‘Why NCC must intercept your phone calls’Nigeria’s telecom sector regulator, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) said it is seeking legal backing to intercept the calls of subscribers to protect them and ensure the security of the nation. Read More
Safaricom dominance under discussion in ParliamentA bill aimed at levelling Kenya’s telecommunications sector by declaring leading operator, Safaricom, as dominant in the industry, is now in Kenya’s parliament. Read More
KRA marks 2 millionth iTax registrationThe Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), has sealed a major milestone in its organisational transformation journey, with the registration of its 2millionth iTax client. Read More
CBN extends BVN enrolmentThe Central Bank of Nigeria has extended the timeline for the enrolment for the national Bank Verification Number (BVN). Read More
NITA gets a new bossGhana’s President John Dramani Mahama has appointed a 35 year old computer scientist, George Atta-Boateng, as Acting Director General of the National Information and Technology Agency. Read More
Nigeria BVN deadline loomsBank customers in Nigeria are reported to be rushing to register for their biometric banking ID as the deadline for the BVNs looms. Read More
Young entrepreneurs in Rwanda told to be more creativeThe latest YouthKonnekt Hangout hosted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) in partnership with UNDP, ADMA, Tigo, and HeHe Labs, has urged young entrepreneurs to be innovative. Read More
FEATURED STORYBatswana dragging feet in digital migration
More than a month after the deadline for the digital migration from analogue television, few people have shown any pronounced enthusiasm in entering the new digital TV realm.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAs curtain falls on MDGs, what next?
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, speaks to Biztechafrica about setting smart targets.