The International Handbook of Telecommunications Economics, Volume III
Edited by Gary Madden
Chapter 14: World Bank telecommunication sector activity: the 1990s and beyond
Charles Kenny INTRODUCTION The World Bank Group (WBG) is composed of several organizations, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which lend money to governments in developing countries (and are jointly known as the World Bank); the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which lends to and invests money in private companies undertaking projects in developing countries; and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which provides political risk coverage to private companies undertaking projects in developing countries. The various arms of the WBG also administer a range of grant programs, some of which support technical assistance, research and pilot programs in the ﬁeld of information and communications technology (ICT). The most signiﬁcant program over the last ﬁve years has been infoDev, the Information for Development Program. This chapter focuses on the work of the World Bank and the IFC, but will touch on the activity of other grant programs and the MIGA. In doing so the chapter discusses the WBG’s role in promoting access to telecommunications and, more recently, information infrastructure more broadly. It looks at the evolution of the lending and investment strategy from telecommunications towards network development, with some discussion of the ‘soft’ infrastructure, such as the legal environment for electronic commerce (e-commerce), inherent in the use of the Internet. It should be noted that the advent of the Internet has increased the relevance of ICT to almost every economic sector. In line with this, there is a growing and active...
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