A dramatic increase in use of mobile phones and the Internet; plunging prices of computing and mobile internet devices; the increasing prevalence of social media: these are some of the rapid changes seen in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector over the last decade.
The World Bank Group’s new strategy for the ICT sector for the period 2012-2015 reflects this new context. It aims to help developing countries use ICT to transform delivery of basic services, drive innovations and productivity gains, and improve competitiveness.
“Information and communication technologies can help reduce poverty, boost economic growth, and improve accountability and governance,” explains 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.”
Working with client countries
The new strategy 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 $30 billion in private investment for mobile network infrastructure in the least developed countries. The International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s $2.3 billion in telecommunications infrastructure investments and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)’s $550 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 percent 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.