Synthesis Documents

Information Economy Report 2011: ICTs as an Enabler for Private Sector Development, UNCTAD, 2011

    The Information Economy Report 2011 demonstrates that effective use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in both the private and the public sector can significantly contribute to and accelerate progress in private sector development (PSD). It identifies four facets of the ICT–PSD interface, which serve as a basis for its policy recommendations.

    Firstly, the quality of the ICT infrastructure is an increasingly vital determinant of the overall investment climate of a country.Leveraging the opportunities created by mobile telephony and its related services and
    applications is particularly important for smaller enterprises in low-income countries.

    Secondly, enterprises must be able to make the best use possible of ICTs, as they positively affect productivity in both large and small enterprises. Governments should play a key role in enhancing business use of ICTs in PSD by – for example – ensuring that relevant ICT tools and services are available and affordable, and providing a legal and regulatory framework that supports the uptake and productive use of ICTs.

    Thirdly, supporting the ICT sector itself is important.Governments can create an enabling framework for the ICT sector to expand by liberalizing the sector, enhancing competition in all segments, providing adequate regulations,
    increasing trust in the use of ICT services, providing training in ICT skills, nurturing ICT enterprises through incubation and by establishing technology parks, and using public procurement to create demand among local ICT enterprises.

    Fourthly, Governments and other institutions can apply ICTs to make PSD interventions more effective – both in business environment reforms, and in the provision of business development, business information and financial services.
    The Information Economy Report 2011 gives some examples: agricultural extension
    services, providing business development training material online, establishing business helplines, crowd-sourcing to detect and fight pests and diseases,
    and ICT-related initiatives aimed at helping small-scale producers to meet certification standards and acquire the skills needed to boost exports. Involving the private sector in designing and providing training and advisory services can help ensure that the services offered are demand-driven.

    The introduction of new mobile money systems is one of the most promising opportunities for leveraging ICTs for PSD.Mobile money systems have provided
    increased access to finance for MSEs, which have traditionally had greater difficulty than larger enterprises in benefiting from existing financial services.

    Another distinct area of PSD that can be better addressed by the use of ICTs is women’s entrepreneurship.