The World Bank’s Role in ICT4D and Transparency

This article notes how, despite the explosion of mobile phone and internet users throughout the private sector, the governments of these developing countries have yet to fully embrace new technological opportunities. If they were to reevaluate their limited use of technology, they may be able to provide more consistent goods and services. The World Bank had the an internal evaluation done and the results were quite transparent. Despite funding and pressure on policy makers, there was little to no change in mobile provider’s expansion into poorer, more rural, and under-served regions of developing countries. More specifically, “targeted efforts to increase access beyond what was commercially viable have been largely unsuccessful.” According to the report, there have been successes in other areas concerning ICT4D projects funded by the World Bank, however, universal access is where we see failure rates as high as 70%. Despite this being a seemingly bad thing, there is also a silver lining. A 30% success rate is not bad when the World Bank is dealing with developing nations, ones that probably have bigger concerns the mobile phones, such as corruption or disease. Because of the World Bank’s transparency in its self-evaluation, this enables open discussion about alternatives and what clearly, doesn’t seem to be working. This high failure rate also makes an incredibly strong case against a one-size-fits-all approach.This is similar to the argument that Heek’s makes in his article about the Millennium Development Goals, about how they are too top-down and too “cookie cutter” to have the same impact in each country. Countries need to be able to tailor projects and goals to what is most applicable for them, their needs, and their priorities. I believe that the actions of the World Bank set a very good precedent for any organizations that wants to take on an ICT project.

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One response to “The World Bank’s Role in ICT4D and Transparency

  • gwendroff

    I think that transparency in evaluations are a vital part of any development project. A lot of times projects are not evaluated honestly as project designers are worried that if their project has shown low success rates than they will lose their funding from private donors. An important aspect of implementing ICTs is sustainability, which can never be achieved if an evaluation is not done to point out where the faults lay. In this specific situation perhaps the evaluation has shown that the world bank should have started with a needs assessment specific to where they were choosing to introduce the mobile phones, which would have indicated whether or not their plans were realistic.

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