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Electricity and the internet: two markets, one big opportunity

Anna Lerner's picture
The markets for rural energy access and internet connectivity are ripe for disruption – and increasingly, we’re seeing benefit from combining the offerings.
 
Traditionally, power and broadband industries have been dominated by large incumbent operators, often involving a state-owned enterprise. Today, new business models are emerging, breaking market barriers to jointly provide energy access and broadband connectivity to consumers.
 
As highlighted in the World Development Report 2016, access to internet has the potential to boost growth, expand economic opportunities, and improve service delivery. The digital economy is growing at 10% a year—significantly faster than the global economy as a whole. Growth in the digital economy is even higher in developing markets: 15 to 25% per year (Boston Consulting Group).
 
To make sure everyone benefits, coverage needs to be extended to the roughly four billion people that still lack access to the internet. In a testing phase, Facebook has experimented with flying drones and Google has released balloons to provide internet to remote populations.
 
But as cool as they might sound, these innovations do nothing for the one billion people who still live off the grid… and don’t have access to the electricity you need to use the internet in the first place! The findings of the Internet Inclusion Summit panel which the World Bank joined recently put this nicely: “without electricity, internet is only a black hole”.
 
That’s why efforts to expand electricity and broadband access should go hand in hand: close coordination between the energy and ICT sectors is probably one of the most efficient and sensible ways of making sure rural populations in low-income countries can reap the benefits of digital development. This thinking is also reflected in a new generation of disruptive telecom infrastructure projects.

Do ‘media’ and civil society work together well to produce change? (Notes from a CIMA Seminar)

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In the untroubled, quotidian quietude of a cloudy morning in Washington DC on Tuesday this week, I walked from World Bank HQ on Pennsylvania Avenue to the offices of the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) on F Street, hoping that the skies above would not open up uproariously and ruin the walk. Happily, they did not, and I made it to the plush offices of CIMA, a think tank within the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). I was there to attend a seminar on: Media and Civic Engagement: From Protests to Dialogue. I had been attracted by both the topic and the panelists: Naomi Hossain of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex, England, Ivana Bajrovic of NED, Tara Susman-Pena of IREX, a major implementing agency in development, and the World Bank’s own Marco Larizza, one of the authors of the World Development Report 2017 on Governance and Law. The session was ably moderated by Nicholas Benequista of CIMA.

You will notice that I put the word media in quotation marks in the title of the piece.  That is because, as often happens in these events, the term at the center of the discussion turned out to be contested. What is media as a subject of intervention and support in international development? It became clear that as the discussion went on that there are those who still think of media in the sense of traditional print and broadcast entities. But there are those --and I am in that group --who think of media in terms of media systems, as in the media ecosystem in a particular country: the totality of the means of communication, how it is structured, owned and governed. There is a normative element here of course; you also want the media system to travel firmly in the direction of pluralism, independence and a capacity to serve as not only an inclusive public forum but as a truculent watchdog. Finally, at the seminar Susman-Pena of IREX was promoting the organization’s intriguing new formulation: Vibrant Information Systems.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Fragile States Index 2017 – Annual Report
Fund for Peace
The Fragile States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Fragile States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.

Inclusive Growth Opportunities Index 2017
The Economist Intelligence Unit
Technological advances and globalization have led to major advances for many, but have seen others’ income and well-being stagnate or even decline. These disparities, both real and perceived—and, more broadly, how to make growth inclusive—are some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Support for inclusive growth—that is, economic growth that is broad-based, sustainable, and provides opportunities for all to participate in its benefits—is gaining momentum. The hoped-for result: dramatic reduction of poverty and inequality. As the world seeks to address these challenges, there is significant potential for private sector actors to pursue unique opportunities that support inclusive growth.

The APMG PPP Certification Program: Q&A with Paul Barbour

Paul Barbour's picture

The APMG PPP Certification Program enables participants to take their skills to the next level, and the Certified PPP Professional (CP3P) credential is a means to officially convey that expertise and ability. Whether you’re thinking about signing up, or already enrolled, in this series we share some insight from practitioners who have already passed the test. This week, we caught up with Paul Barbour, Senior Risk Management Officer at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Read his answers below.

From slums to neighborhoods: How energy efficiency can transform the lives of the urban poor

Martina Bosi's picture

Villa 31, an iconic urban settlement in the heart of Buenos Aires, is home to about 43,000 of the city’s poor. In Argentina, paradoxically, urban slums are called ‘villas’ – a word usually tied with luxury in many parts of the world.
 

A perspective on jobs from the G20

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Factory workers in Ghana
When talking about the Future of Work, it is important to go beyond discussing robots and changes in employer-worker relationships; these might not be the primary labor market problem that low-income countries face. (Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)

On May 18-19, the G20 Ministers of Labor met in Bad Neuenahr, Germany to discuss and adopt their annual Labor and Employment Ministerial Meeting (LEMM) Declaration advocating for "an integrated set of policies that places people and jobs at center stage." In this, the meeting did not shy away from some of the more thorny issues to reach the overarching goal of fostering "inclusive growth and a global economy that works for everyone." It focused on the much-feared future-of-work, the longstanding challenge of more and better employment for women, better integration of recognized migrants and refugees in domestic labor markets, and ensuring decent work in the international supply chains.  

Is technology a third lever for financing the SDGs?

Magdi M. Amin's picture

When governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their message was one of ambition: a world in which poverty is eliminated, growth made sustainable, ecosystems restored, and no one is left behind. This came with a price tag: annual investment needs of $4 trillion. With only $1.5 trillion now being invested, this means closing an investment gap of $2.5 trillion every year until 2030.

For International Finance Institutions, this is the central challenge of our time. It involves aligning the interest of global savers, and the investors who represent them, with the interest of citizens as they are expressed through the SDGs.

The fact is that the poorest countries have been left behind. To change this, we have focused on two levers: (a) reforms and instruments to manage risks of investing in lower-income countries, which are perceived to be of higher risk, and (b) sector policy and capacity to increase the flow of viable, high impact projects. At major gatherings in Addis Ababa, New York, Washington and Accra, we are working on these issues.

Statement on appointment of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Tim Evans's picture
On behalf of the World Bank, I extend our very warm congratulations to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his election as Director-General of the World Health Organization.  He brings a wealth of expertise and experience that will help steer WHO to have even greater impact. We look forward to strengthening our collaboration with WHO under the leadership of Dr.Tedros in our common pursuit of supporting countries to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and to improve their preparedness to manage epidemic threats.
        

Transforming Kenya’s healthcare system: a PPP success story

Monish Patolawala's picture


Photo: Direct Relief, Flicker Creative Commons

The Kenyan government launched its national long-term development plan, Vision 2030, in 2008 with the aim of transforming Kenya into a newly-industrialised, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all citizens by 2030, in a clean and secure environment.

Constructed around three key pillars – economic, social and political – the blueprint has been designed to address all aspects of the country’s infrastructure and economy, with a key component of the social pillar consisting of ambitious healthcare reforms. Ultimately, the government’s goal is to ensure continuous improvement of health systems and to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare to tackle the high incidence of non-communicable diseases that affect the region.

The future of business matchmaking

Aman Baboolal's picture

How a new green business facility in South Africa is connecting local companies to the global green economy

Traditional trade mission functions are becoming obsolete. Over hors d'oeuvres, business cards are exchanged, elevator pitches are delivered but, in most cases, entrepreneurs leave with empty promises to stay in touch and no useful contacts. This may sound a little cynical but the reality is that in an age of business models “ripe for disruption,” the ways to create viable business partnerships across borders have not changed for decades.
 


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