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
CAK cracks down on SIMbox fraudstersThe Kenyan telecoms regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya, has swooped on alleged SIMbox fraudsters in Nairobi. Read More
SES, CENI partner on satellite network for Burkina Faso electionsOver 350 polling stations across Burkina Faso will be connected and voting results transmitted immediately via satellite communication technology. Read More
Lawmakers urge review of CBN’s cashless policyNigerian lawmakers are rooting for the review of the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which they described as constraining Nigerian’s ability to spend money for businesses and personal transactions. Read More
Guinea turns to Gemalto to modernise its national voter registerGemalto has managed a comprehensive modernisation of Guinea’s voter register on behalf of CENI, the National Independent Electoral Commission. Read More
NIMC apologises for service disruptions at enrolment centresThe management of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has apologisd to Nigerians who are currently facing challenges enrolling on its platform. Read More
ComTech minister: Buhari to decide on MTN fineNigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will soon take a decision on the payment of the N1.4trillion fine imposed on MTN by the NCC. Read More
New NIMC CEO namedNigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Engr. Aliyu Aziz Abubakar, as the new Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). Read More
GSM service providers risk fresh regulatory sanctionsThe NCC is set to sanction the three of the four GSM service providers for failing to comply with its directive on auto-renewal of subscribers’ data bundles. Read More
Mobile Compact Lab presented to BotswanaThe Global Pharma Health Fund, a charitable initiative funded by Merck, a leading science and technology company, has donated a mobile compact laboratory to the Health Ministry in the capital city of Gaborone to help detect counterfeit medicines. Read More
KRA sweeps marketing excellence awards for the authority’s iTax solutionThe Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has added yet another feather on its cap, after winning a Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) award. Read More
FEATURED STORYeCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile
The Executive Chairman of Alltel has urged operators of eCommerce in Ghana and Africa as a whole to take advantage of the current trend for Africans to trade online via their mobile handsets.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNigeria needs $25b investment in broadband, says Wood
Telecoms executive Adrian Wood speaks to Kokumo Goodie about investment potential in Nigeria.