World Bank commits $12.6bn to ICT devt globally in 10 years


The World Bank Group has invested a total US$12.6 billion in ICTs in the last 10 years the World Development Report released in Washington yesterday has disclosed.
The report indicated that while the internet, mobile phones and other digital technologies were spreading rapidly throughout the developing world, the anticipated digital dividends of higher growth, more jobs, and better public services had fallen short of expectations, and 60 percent of the world’s population remains excluded from the ever-expanding digital economy. The report stated: “Digital technologies can transform our economies, societies and public institutions, but these changes are neither assured nor automatic. Countries that are investing in both digital technology and its analog complements will reap significant dividends, while others are likely to fall behind.
“Technology without a strong foundation risks creating divergent economic fortunes, higher inequality and an intrusive state. Over the last decade, the World Bank Group has invested a total US$12.6 billion in ICTs” Authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann and team, the new ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends,’ noted that the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world, who are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies.
In addition, though the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet. In his remarks, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, noted that “digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government. “We must continue to connect everyone and leave no one behind because the cost of lost opportunities is enormous. But for digital dividends to be widely shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance.” Although there are many individual success stories, the effect of technology on global productivity, expansion of opportunity for the poor and middle class, and the spread of accountable governance has so far been less than expected. Digital technologies are spreading rapidly, but digital dividends – growth, jobs and services – have lagged behind.
Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist, noted that “the digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flows, and facilitating the rise of developing nations that are able to take advantage of these new opportunities,” saying that “it is an amazing transformation that today 40 percent of the world’s population is connected by the internet. While these achievements are to be celebrated, this is also occasion to be mindful that we do not create a new underclass. “With nearly 20 percent of the world’s population unable to read and write, the spread of digital technologies alone is unlikely to spell the end of the global knowledge divide.”
The report stated further that digital technologies can promote inclusion, efficiency, and innovation. More than forty percent of adults in East Africa pay their utility bills using a mobile phone, while noting that ther are eight million entrepreneurs in China— one third of them women—who use an e-commerce platform to sell goods nationally and export to 120 countries.
According to the World Bank Group, India has provided unique digital identification to nearly one billion people in five years, and increased access and reduced corruption in public services.