(Note: China and India were broken out in this graph due to the distorting effect of their populations on the estimations per region.)
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), broadband can be considered affordable when it is at or below five percent of the average monthly income. Statistics are usually reported on country averages; under a “Broadband for All” objective, it might be useful to realize that behind averages income is distributed unevenly among the population of a country. That is, even if broadband prices are effectively under five percent of the average monthly income of a country, that same price indeed represents a higher share of the income of the poorest segments of the population.
In this blog post, I will try to show the differences that averages hide, as well as highlight the importance of addressing specific segments of the population, especially when dealing with the bottom 40 percent of the population, which are – almost by definition – usually underestimated on average.
Using statistics from ITU and World Development Indicators (WDI), I have tried to calculate (grossly and certainly with lots of room for improvement) a tool to measure this “affordability gap” between countries and – more importantly – within countries.
Information and communication technology (ICT) has become an engine of growth and is opening up major opportunities for transformational change. This technological revolution is driven by a continuing exponential decline in the cost of communication and information, and it is likely to continue to drive innovation and wealth creation. As the World Bank Group seeks to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity, the key questions are: Can ICT contribute substantially to achieving these goals? Where is the evidence? Can we systematically think about the challenges and opportunities? What is needed to realize ICT’s potential?
Do you believe that information & communication technologies and innovation can help end poverty in your country? Share your reflections and get your voice counted by policymakers and development professionals.
In a recent post on digital identities, we argued that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be a force multiplier in achieving the World Bank’s goals of ending extreme poverty within a generation and promoting shared prosperity. Mobile devices are also a critical part of this as they can facilitate and strengthen evidence-based approaches to tackling problems of relevance to the poor.
What would you give up to continue using your mobile phone? For most of the six billion mobile subscribers around the world, the sacrifice might be measured in terms of a marginal loss of privacy, or of time.
(This blog post has been co-authored with Christine Kimes)
The World Bank’s mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results. Over the coming years the locus of poverty will increasingly shift to urban areas. Two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2025, and a third of these residents are likely to be poor. By 2030, the urban population in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa – the world’s poorest regions – is expected to double. The Bank in keeping with its inspiring mission will necessarily have to focus more energy and resources in tackling the problems of urban poverty.
The immediacy and tragedy of acute poverty is exemplified by the distressing condition of not being able to buy food for a hungry child, or medicine for a sick infant, or finding money for a funeral. The help required in such situations may indeed be small, but can make a big difference in the life of a poor family. Modern information technologies hold the promise of helping the poor in radical and game changing ways.