Syndicate content

Ethiopia

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers

Mark Moseley's picture


Photo: shplendid | Flickr Creative Commons

Talk of trade tariffs and heightened geopolitical tensions are dominating news headlines recently. As developed economies consider escalating protectionist policies, it’s easy to forget about the situation many emerging markets face.

As outlined in the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report released in June this year, protectionist policies would affect emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) more severely than advanced economies. And this is at a time where increased investment and spending in EMDEs, including in infrastructure, is sorely needed.

Pushing water downhill: Considering ICT PPPs

Jeff Delmon's picture
Students using new high-speed Internet in Tonga. Photo: World Bank Group

For private financiers, official government support to information and communications technology (ICT) projects might seem like trying to push water downhill. After all, isn’t ICT incredibly profitable? What’s the point of a public-private partnership (PPP) in this sector, anyway?

Here’s the rest of that familiar argument: Government should stay out of the way and let the private sector carry the communications sector; it is a waste of effort and inefficient to try to push forward something that has its own momentum. Like a rushing river, the naysayers conclude, ICT needs no help advancing down its inevitable course.

It sounds reasonable in theory, but in practice, that approach just doesn’t work. The government needs to guide the river down the best course for the citizens it serves, building a weir or mill to help the river provide maximum benefits to the people who need it. And, just as water is the foundation of life, communication technologies are necessary to prosper in today’s world. Knowledge is power. And specifically, access to markets is improved by mobile phones, as is access to banking services, finance, investment opportunities, and education.

Successful ICT strategies usher in jobs, empowerment and economic growth.