Financing Information and Communication Infrastructure Needs in the Developing World. Public and Private Roles


Work data:

ISBN: 0-8213-6358-1

Type of work: Working Paper


e-Readiness | ICT Infrastructure | ICT4D | Information Society


Two competing assumptions regarding the build-out of information and communications infrastructure (ICI) in developing countries are that “the private sector alone is enough” and “the government must take the lead role.” In fact, these notions present a false dichotomy. The private sector and governments both have crucial roles to play in ensuring that a growing percentage of the population of the developing world can access the tools of modern communications.

This report makes clear that private-sector led growth has revolutionized access to telecommunications services around the world over the past ten years, with every region of the developing world benefiting in terms of investment and rollout. At the same time, without government reform and oversight, such a revolution would have been impossible.

Furthermore, the report shows that there is more to be done to ensure that poor and remote populations are not excluded from all access, and that governments, enterprises, civil society, and workers in developing countries can affordably access the more advanced ICI services that are increasingly important to doing business in a globalizing world.

Looking forward, the report proposes strategies that governments can carry out to attract private investment and ensure the continued evolution and spread of information and communications infrastructure. These strategies encompass more than sector policy alone, for investment decisions are based on a wide range of factors including, for example, the roles played by financial sector development and the broader investment environment.

The strategies also include potential public sector investments that can catalyze ICI rollout in subsectors where it is not evident that the private sector is prepared to intervene on its own.

In turn, these activities can be supported by a range of donor-provided investment and technical assistance vehicles, which are laid out in the text and in the accompanying report The World Bank Group Financial Instruments and their contribution to the Information and Communication Technologies landscape.