Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Will broadband, mobile be key drivers to economic growth?

Access to affordable high-speed Internet and mobile phone service are key to economic growth and job creation in developing countries, the World Bank said in a report.

The report, Information and Communications for Development 2009, found that for every 10 percentage-point increase in high-speed Internet connections there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points.

"Internet users in developing countries increased tenfold from 2000 to 2007, and there are now over four billion mobile phone subscribers in developing countries," said Mohsen Khalil, World Bank group director for global information and communication technologies.

"These technologies offer tremendous opportunities," Khalil said. "Governments can work with the private sector to accelerate rollout of broadband networks, and to extend access to low-income consumers."

The report identified the mobile platform as the "single most powerful way to reach and deliver public and private services to hundreds of millions of people in remote and rural areas across the developing world."

Broadband provides the basis for local information technology (IT) services industries which create youth employment, increase productivity and exports, and promote social inclusion, it said.

"Currently though, few people in developing economies have access to broadband networks," the report said. "In 2007, an average of less than five percent of the population of low-income economies was connected to broadband networks
, and that was mostly in urban centers."

"Access to broadband completes the information foundation for a modern economy and should be a priority in national development plans," said Katherine Sierra, World Bank vice president for sustainable development.

"Governments can play a key role in expanding broadband access by policies and incentives that encourage competition and private investment," she said.

The World Bank supports information and communications technology projects in more than 100 countries with a portfolio of more than three billion dollars.

Agencies

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