WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012 --- The World Bank Group today released its 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 $30 billion in private investment for mobile network infrastructure in the least developed countries. The IFC’s $2.3 billion in telecommunications infrastructure investments and 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.
"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.
ECA’s potential activities in year 1 (FY13) of the ICT Strategy
(Annex 4. Implementing the ICT Strategy: World Bank Sectors and Regions’ Perspectives, p.58):
Priority 1: Deepened reforms for improved competitiveness
- Identify priority countries for e-government interventions, including e-services for private sector development
- Leverage KTF to use smart grids and smart metering in Uzbekistan
- Leverage HELP group for advising e-transformation leaders in countries such as Poland, Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
- Develop a 10-year Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan for St. Petersburg; and support a national ITS framework in Russia
- Develop ICT-enabled integrated cadastre and registration system in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, and Croatia
- Use ICT to improve environmental management and access to information, including for compliance monitoring and dissemination of information
- In the EU accession countries, support the setting up of EU Funds Paying Agencies and IT tools for administering controlling payments to farmers
- Support IFMIS and revenue administration systems (Albania, Croatia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine)
- Promote smart metering, billing, and collection systems for water utilities in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic
- Computerize accounts of water user associations in Armenia to improve efficiency of water delivery and irrigation fee collection
- Support IT industry in Armenia and Moldova using development policy loan mechanisms
- Support broadband connectivity in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Azerbaijan
- Use mobile phones/Internet to transmit price, market, and weather info to rural entrepreneurs and farmers in Moldova and Uzbekistan
Priority 2: Social sector reforms for inclusive growth
- Leverage KTF in Uzbekistan to develop priority ICT policies including strengthening public sector reform and governance through e-government—the government of Uzbekistan is keen to venture into citizen-centric and citizen-driven e-government services and improve government services by addressing social protection cash transfers, business services, statistical services, and unique ID (being explored under work by KTF)
- Use ICTs to support social protection services delivery
- Support knowledge sharing and project identification for unique electronic ID programs and cash transfer programs (social protection) in Uzbekistan
- Identify a pilot country or countries where mobile phones can be used for cash transfer programs
- Pilot e-IDs that can be used for identification to receive social safety net payment
- Work with the PREM team to implement BOOST for open and possibly participatory budgeting across ECA countries
- Undertake a regional ESW to identify policy options to address the limits to broadband connectivity to second-tier cities and in rural areas across ECA
Priority 3: Climate action for sustainable growth
- Leverage cloud computing for promoting Green Growth agenda and savings in public sector IT investments, including through PPP-based approaches
- Leverage Open Development Technology Alliance (ICT Knowledge Platform) and South-South Trust Fund to support Open Government initiatives in the ECA countries who joined the Open Government Partnership with special focus on citizen engagement and feedback as well as open budgets and open data, in partnership with WBI, PREM, SDV and DEC; this includes Moldova, Macedonia, Albania, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Romania, and Azerbaijan
- Benchmark major urban centers to identify how ICT can improve efficiency of urban management