Tag Archives: World Bank

China ICT4D Resources

China is not a country that has explicitly laid out its plans for information and communications technologies development, but they have published a few documents that outline some of the ways they plan to improve these areas of development. The closest document they have to a ICT4D policy is called, “China’s Informatization Strategy and its Impact on Trade in ICT Goods and ICT services”, was published by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council of China in 2006. China’s 5 year plans published by the National People’s Congress, most recently published in 2010, also contain some information related to ICTs.

Government Publications:

China’s Informatization Strategy

China’s 12th 5-Year Plan can be found by searching for it, but is only available in downloadable .pdf files

Other Agency and Organization Publications:

Rural Informatization in China can be downloaded from the World Bank. This is a working paper, so new versions are published when major changes need to be made.

IDC’s Top 10 Predictions for China’s ICT Market in 2014 and Beyond is a press release from a data analysis company highlights some of the more important indicators and what they might mean for the future.

 

Remember that the Chinese government is not keen on publishing documents that are clear in their intentions or expectations. So, market trends, data indicators, and other sources of information are the best way to understand China’s relationship with ICT4D’s.


Zimbabwe ICT4D Resources

 1.  National ICT Policy/Plan/Strategy

a. Zimbabwe Ministry of Information Communication Technology Strategic Plan (MICT Strategic Plan)

Last Updated: February 8, 2013

Published by: Ministry of ICT

Language: English

b. Zimbabwe National ICT Policy Framework

Last Updated: February 8, 2013

Published by: Ministry of ICT

Language: English

2. Government Websites/webpages:

a. Ministry of ICT, Postal, and Courier Services

3. Case Study:

a. Sharing Local Content in Local Voices

Organization: Practical Action

Time Frame: initially from October 2008 to March 2009 (now permanent)

Language: English

4. Other Non-Government Resources:
(I’ve only included resources that the last Zimbabwe project, TIM0603, didn’t)

a.   Digital Economy Rankings 2010: Beyond E-Readiness

Last Updated: June 2010

Published by: Economist Intelligence Unit

Language: English

b. Country and Lending Groups

Last Updated:

Published by: The World Bank

Language: English, Arabic, Mandarin


Democratic Republic of Congo ICT4D Resources

1. Developments for a National ICT Policy**

Autorité de régulation de la poste et des télécommunications du Congo, or ARPCT, acts as the ICT regulation authority. The official website link has been broken for a while (which speaks to the country’s level of ICT development), but the World Bank’s DR Congo Country Report offers a brief description.
Last update: June 2007
Published by infoDev
Language: English

The Global Information Society Watch describes the DRC’s main ICT challenges in this country report.
Last update: 2007
Published by Global Information Society Watch
Language: English

NEPAD e-Africa Programme
Last update: 2012
Published by The New Partnership for Africa’s Development
Language: English (also available in French)

2. Government website
Since the government does not officially support any ICT initiatives, it has a limited government website that seems to only be available in French.

3. Case Studies

DRC joins WACS
Organization: Alcatel-Lucent (French global telecommunications equipment company)
Project: West Africa Cable System
Time frame: N/A

4. Non-governmental resources

Author: The World Bank
Development Indicators for DRC

Author: Global Information Society Watch
DRC’s Access to Online Information & Knowledge

5. Notes
Finding reliable information about the DRC’s ICT status was difficult because the sector is very underdeveloped. A lot of my conclusions were drawn from this lack of information as well as ICT success theories.

**Since the DRC does not have an officially established national ICT policy, the resources listed here are from the private sector programs that have been pushing to establish effective rules and regulations for ICT usage and implementation.


ICT Production & Industry in Zimbabwe

Figure 1: Zimbabwe ICT Goods Imports

Figure 1: Zimbabwe ICT Goods Imports

What percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) does the ICT Industry take up in Zimbabwe?  The World Bank provides us with the percentage of total goods imports that ICT goods imports take up.  These include: “telecommunications, audio and video, computer and related equipment; electronic components; and other information and communication technology goods. Software is excluded”.  Zimbabwe’s ICT goods intake decreased from 4.2 percent in 2004 to about 3.6 percent in 2010 (see figure 1).

Figure 2: Zimbabwe ICT Goods Exports

Hoping this was due to an increase in exports, I was let down to find that despite a slight increase from 0.1 percent in 2004 to 0.6 percent in 2008, the country bottomed out in terms of ICT goods exports in 2010 (see figure 2).  This is about on par with the rest of its neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Zimbabwe’s ICT Strategic Plan, there is an evident focus on production and industry.  For example, three of the country’s overarching goals are to: create new competitive business opportunities for the growth of the ICT industry, accelerate technology commercialization in support of small and medium enterprises, and establish ICT technoparks and incubation hubs.  Due to the strong neo-liberal values still in place since the country’s colonial time period under British rule as Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe’s economic landscape is highly tuned towards stimulating and sustaining economic growth.  Therefore, the goals for ICT production trend towards promoting ICT commercialization, technology transfer, and collaborating with international organizations and companies.  This does not mean that regional projects are not promoted, but the local ICT in Zimbabwe are named “initiatives” in national policy, as many are still only at a preliminary stage.

Figure 3: Foreign Direct Investment in Zimbabwe

Figure 3: Foreign Direct Investment in Zimbabwe

The proof of the neoliberal views of Zimbabwe’s government and foreign policy initiatives are seen in the amount of foreign economic involvement in the country.  Foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe as a percentage of GDP has gone from 1.7 percent in 2009 to 4.1 percent in 2012, according to the World Bank Development Indicators.  Besides Mozambique, which has an unhealthy upward trend in new investment flows, Zimbabwe is one of the highest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of international lasting management interest in its economy (see figure 3).


Mapping 4 Development: Resources

Mapping technologies have been incorporated into the development field to provide practitioners with rigorous spatial analysis of complex issues across the globe. In order for practitioners to take full advantage of mapping technologies, it is imperative for them to learn about the potential uses of such technologies. Many international organizations and academic departments have compiled a large amount of resources for individuals with interest in mapping for development. Below you will find a list of projects, handbooks, and links that will provide you with more information about the mapping landscape in international development,

GIS @ Tufts – Tufts University

This site contains a comprehensive list of examples of GIS and research sites for international development and examples of GIS for humanitarian relief.

Good Practices in Participatory Mapping – IFAD

This handbook provides a framework to develop participatory mapping strategies. It also explores major issues that arise through participatory mapping and provides ways in which those issues can be addressed.

How to Use Maps to Raise Awareness – The Guardian

This article provides a quick review of different ways in which mapping technologies can be use to raise awareness about a particular issue or set of issues.

International Human Development Indicators – UNDP

This is a visual representation of the Human Development Report’s data by country. It also includes the Multidimensional Poverty Index, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Inequality-Adjusted Human Development Indicator.

Maps and Mapping Resources – California State University

This site contains a list of resources and maps pertaining to historical events, demographics, environmental issues, geological maps, and the weather.

Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development

The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) was established in Nairobi – Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), today African Union (AU). RCMRD is an inter-governmental organization and currently has 19 Contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regions; Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Source: www.rcmrd.org

The e-Atlas of Global Development – The World Bank

The atlas provides a comprehensive visual overview of the world’s most pressing social challenges and its people.


Thailand ICT Policy: A Country on the Rise

Thailand’s Information Communication Technology policy has three key components which it hopes to achieve within the next ten years. These components are 1.) Building knowledge-based on human capital, 2.) Promoting innovation in economic and social systems, 3.) Strengthening information infrastructure and industry. Thailand hopes to become a knowledge based society, where the use of ICTs helps boast the economy and is accessible to all of its citizens.

According to the World Bank, the research and development expenditure consists of only 2.21% of Thailand’s overall GDP and high technology exports were only 21% of all manufactured exports. There was no information regarding the technicians in R & D (World Bank). These numbers make it clear that ICT production has very little impact in the economic landscape of Thailand. Thailand is a country on the rise, one that is trying to become more developed, more technologically advanced and make more efficient use of ICTs to help its economy and the day-to-day life of its citizens.  Although Thailand has a long way to go until ICTs are being used successfully, to their full potential and when they will truly have an affect on the countries economy, Thailand is on the right track. Hopefully we will continue to see these numbers rise and that Thailand will continue on this track. Furthermore,  we hope to see ICTs benefit the country tremendously in the near future and that they successfully reach their goal of becoming knowledge based society.

For Thailand’s Full ICT policy click here.

For more information about Thailand from the World Bank click here


Telecommunications in the Senegalese Economy

Senegal is a leader in development among West African nations.  With an expanding ICT framework, the Senegalese economy is more globalized and connected with trade partners than ever before.

Senegal has placed great emphasis on expanding the telecommunications sector, as a means of both economic growth and self-empowerment. In 1998, mobile services were liberalized in Senegal and quality of life was impacted almost immediately. The Telecommunications Regulatory Agency reported in 2003 that advancements in telecommunications had contributed to unprecedented mobile subscriptions and the creation of over 20,000 new jobs (IST 90). In 2005, development leaders met to formulate a standardized national telecommunications policy, which continues upon early successes while addressing concerns in regulation and job creation:

  • Triple the number of telephone subscribers from 1 million (2003) to 3 million.
  • Increase the sector’s contribution to GDP.
  • Dramatically improve rural service by connecting 9 500 villages, with fixed and mobile networks covering all villages nationwide by 2010.
  • Democratize the Internet, consider it as part of universal service (phone + internet).

These objectives highlight the importance of telecommunications to policymakers in Senegal. The decentralization of network coverage seems to be a positive initiative, for it would encourage healthy competition in the market for telecommunication, possibly decreasing operating costs more than ever before.

The Result:

Within the context of the economic expansion, the role of ICTs is somewhat unclear.

According to World Bank reports, the ICT goods accounted for a mere 1% of total exports in 2011. When compared to the figures cited for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 (4%, 5%, and 2% respectively), it is apparent that the emphasis on manufacturing ICT goods for export has lessened. Three possible explanations are:

  • Most ICT products manufactured in Senegal are consumed domestically.
  • Senegal can no longer produce at a quality or rate competitive in the ICT market.
  • Economic priorities have shifted.

Meanwhile, ICTs as a percentage of imports were cited at 3%, which has remained at this figure for the previous five years.

Interestingly enough, ICT service exports constituted 34% of total service exports in 2010-2011. In other words, of services offshore or globalized during the past year, over one-third of them were classified as ICT services. Senegal clearly depends upon these exported ICT services to remain integrated in the market, and perhaps these services are cheaper in and from Senegal than more developed countries.

While these statistics are not much to work with, there are some possible interpretations as to what they mean for ICTs in the larger, macro picture of the Senegalese economy. The small amount of ICT goods as a percentage of total good exports seems to indicate that Senegal is not a major ICT manufacturer. Importation of these products happens in greater proportion than their exportation. Rather, Senegal’s comparative advantage probably lies in ICT service exports, which can be offered at a lower price in developing nations. ICTs definitely matter for Senegalese development, as evidenced in the national policy measures. However, it would appear that the necessary technology is either imported, improvised from pre-existing technology, or produced and consumed domestically.

Read about the current telecommunications and ICT systems in Senegal and how they rank against neighboring nations or access the World Bank country report on Senegal.


Demand Driven ICT Industry: The Case of Morocco

Currently classified as a low middle-income country, Morocco ranks 10th among 16 Arab states for ICT development, and is seeking to transition to a digitally literate information society in order to facilitate its economic growth and global competitiveness. While the absence of such a transformation precludes Morocco’s inclusion in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Digital Economy rankings, the UN ICT Task Force report identifies Morocco as a high demand country for ICTs. The 85.82% penetration rate of mobile phone subscribers for 2010 indicates that Morocco’s population is becoming increasingly literate in terms of ICT technologies, as does the 60% growth in the number of Internet subscribers from 2005 to 2010. From these figures it reasonable to expect that data on Morocco’s digital economy will be available in the future.

A primary focus of Morocco’s national ICT policy is the harnessing of ICT as a means to improve business productivity. Since Morocco is already a leading destination for Francophone call centers, the government wants to capitalize on this and other areas in which Morocco has demonstrated strong potential for export. Open Society Foundations suggests that increasing offshoring and call centers in Morocco stands to add 0.3 percent annually to GDP growth from 2003 to 2018, reducing the international trade deficit by around 35 percent and create 100,000 new jobs. According to the World Bank, high-technology exports as a percentage of manufactured exports accounted for 8% of Morocco’s GDP in 2010, the most recent available data. After falling from its high of 11% in 2003, high-technology exports plunged to 6% in 2008 from 9% in 2007. This dramatic drop was likely due to the global financial crisis and consequent contraction of investment across the board. Since then, it has been increasing steadily, and will likely continue to add to Morocco’s economy in the future.

The greatest challenge for Morocco is also an opportunity with significant growth potential. Morocco ranked 114th of 144 countries in the skills readiness sub-index of World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report for 2013. Despite these inadequacies in the population’s ICT skills, education initiatives suggest promising developments on the horizon, and positive responses in ICT demand indicate a growing interest in these technologies that Morocco can harness to further industry growth. In order for Morocco to best improve its capacity for ICT it needs to address this disconnect between a high demand for ICT technologies and a low rate of ICT skills within the population and workforce.


The Impasse of Afghanistan’s ICT Strategy

2011_0316_kabul_tower

In a recent report, the USAID praises the progress Afghanistan’s telecommunications networks which, after billions in investment from foreign donors–mainly the United States government, grew from non-existence in 2002 to 64% Tele-density and 85% population coverage in 2012, with over 17.4 millions telephone subscribers. These appreciable improvements are part of Kabul’s effort to transition Afghanistan into an information society, and, officially:

To make affordable communication services available in every district and village of Afghanistan through enabling market economy, so that all Afghans, men and women alike, can use ICT to expeditiously improve government, social services, foster the rebuilding process, increase employment, create a vibrant private sector, reduce poverty and support underprivileged groups and to make Afghanistan a forefront member of the E- global society

Forgoing the details and challenges of building an adequate telecommunications infrastructure in what is widely considered the most politically and geographically treacherous region in the world, Afghanistan’s ICT sector development is very limited and crumbling.

Building a network that provides 85% population coverage–note: not service–was made possible by foreign aid and a Coalition post-war restructuring initiative with the hopes that private sector communication providers would buy-in and take over service operations once a skeletal infrastructure was set up. It was a “top-down” development strategy aimed at creating a private investment opportunity. In theory, one would think this could work; Coalition organizations and the Afghan government working together to clear the barriers-to-entry and increase the economies of scale in a tumultuous region. Initially, it did: telecom companies like MTN, Rashan and Wasel Telecom bought portions of the market-share from Afghan Telecom, the government set-up provider. But, as we often discuss in class, the “If you build it, they will come” approach is flawed; and as the report makes clear–albeit, in its footnotes–the telecom providers stopped short in their investments due to lack of potential growth.

The low demand for mobile and internet technologies is influenced by the usual suspects: they’re new and unfamiliar to the majority of the population, they’re too expensive, there’s an utter-lack of local/applicable content, etc. But the largest deterrent is the available services’ poor quality–something that is not likely to be improved unless there’s potential market growth. The skeletal infrastructure is prone electrical blackouts and generally weak/slow service. That is where the private telecom companies and ISPs were supposed to come in and improve off of the government’s initial efforts. The problem is that Afghans are seemingly unwilling or unable to pay for better services that would be provided by private companies. The report states,

Due to the absence of consumer interest reports, companies will often deliver the lowest costing level of service at the highest price that the market is willing to pay. If telecom companies had market data indicating that consumers were willing to pay for better service delivery, the ICT environment would undergo a further improvement in the quality of service on par with international consumer standards….The lack of reliable infrastructure and the fact that the majority of ISPs’ rely on expensive satellite communications has forced prices for high speed Internet connectivity to remain steep. The prohibitive cost of connectivity, along with other factors such as poor literacy levels, lack of computer and network access, and limited production of local content, keeps Internet services out of reach for the majority of Afghans.

Simply put, private service providers aren’t investing more in the ICT infrastructure because they no longer expect future financial benefit. The private providers don’t have billions in aid to cover their losses and continue infrastructure development, so they stopped improving and growing. Thus, the Afghani people are stuck with sub-standard ICT services, preventing the majority from wanting to take advantage of such an amenity because of its inadequacy. It has become a perpetual cycle.

The answer to this developmental gridlock may be more effort and money from multilateral organizations to further increase the economies of scale; the World Bank is in the midst of $130 million improvement of fiber optic cables project, connecting the 23 provincial capitals. The good news is that it seems Kabul is taking ICT very seriously–the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has released a myriad of reports that outline the goals and challenges ahead–and they are many. Building a proper ICT network from scratch in the midst of conflict is rather challenging. From these reports, one gets a sense that in order for ICT networks to work and grow effectively, everything else in the country needs to be in order, from energy supply to private sector readiness and health, education to political stability. For Afghanistan, only time will tell.


Scaling Innovation at the World Bank Group

Scaling Innovation at the World Bank Group

The linked article is an interview of Aleem Walji, the Director of the World Bank’s Innovation Labs done by Skoll World Forum’s Rahim Kanani. Walji previously worked for google (a company well known for innovation), and was brought in by the World Bank to “help expand the space for experimentation, learning, and prototyping with an emphasis on emerging technologies.”

The feeling that I get after reading this interview, is that the World Bank recognizes that there are a vast number of shortcomings with the current approach to development, and that they are making positive steps towards finding a better way of going about it. The first success of the Innovation labs was the Open Data Initiative. The WB realized that by making these data/knowledge/analytical resources available for researchers, NGO’s, policymakers, etc. they would create value in ways that they didn’t need to have control over.

Probably the most interesting part of the article is when Walji discussed generally what their plans were to overcome challenges in development. He talks about how the world’s hardest problems to solve are “moving targets” and how initiatives and organizations shouldn’t over-analyze before we act. He believes that innovation is about risk management and traversing uncertainty wisely; “fail fast and fail forward. You learn fast and iterate. You document what you learn, share it with the world and look for insights wherever you find them.

Walji also goes on to discuss knowledge management and how it can help us to form solutions. Large amounts of data, information, and knowledge are created daily, “If we only knew what we knew collectively, and could find it when we need it, we would be so much smarter… It’s not about getting the answer right the first time or developing “cookie-cutter solutions but about using a process that gets us close to better solutions better adapted to end-users” By assessing everything we know about a particular issue we can move towards creating a solution.

I would highly recommend reading the full article as I could not include everything in this blog post. After hearing a lot recently about the shortcomings of ICT projects, it was nice to read an interview where someone has full knowledge of the problems, and an intelligent direction that we should go in for putting a stop to them.