The role of the information and communications technology sector in expanding economic opportunity

The role of the information and communications technology sector in expanding economic opportunity

Can the ICT sector leverage its unique position in exapnding economic opportunity?

This report focuses on the role of information and communications technology (ICT) sector in expanding economic opportunity. It is part of a series exploring the connections between international development, business, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) communities in order to establish links between private sector development and poverty alleviation.

The ICT sector is a powerful catalyst in addressing the needs of low-income communities in developing countries. ICT s have played an import role in firm and macro-level growth, as they enable people to enhance their knowledge and skills; identify, apply, and qualify for better paying jobs; use their disposable income more wisely; and tap into broader markets for their goods and services. In developing countries, ICTs offer tremendous potential to eliminate or at least work around a number of critical obstacles to economic growth.

The authors outline the different factors that distinguish the ICT sector in its potential to expand economic opportunity. As shown in the case profiles in the report, many firms have begun to experiment with ways of deliberately leveraging many attributes that characterise this sector to expand economic opportunity. This report highlights three important considerations firms may wish to take into account:

  • as new technological capabilities emerge, new standards need to be developed so that markets can be imagined, created, and served – expanding economic opportunity for individuals, entrepreneurs, and institutions of all types and sizes. In new markets – particularly those spanning traditional industry sectors, such as telecommunications and finance, and those in the developing world - collaboration for effective, continuous standard-setting demands particular attention
  • ICTs enable a wide range of economic opportunity benefits for users, and technological innovation is a key to accessibility. Business model innovations such as service partnerships, low-cost distribution systems and appropriate financing options are critical
  • for most ICT companies, collaboration is a central business strategy. It is a critical part of standard-setting, business model innovation and implementation, and building the value proposition of technology through content, application, and service development. ICT companies have enormous potential to leverage their collaborative capabilities to expand economic opportunity more widely in developing countries.