UN urges governments to leverage ICT to promote private sector growth

Ban ki-Moon - UN Boss

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its ICT Economy Report 2011 has urged governments to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) more effectively in their programmes to support small and micro enterprises (SMEs) in order to help accelerate job creation and business growth.

The report released October 19, 2011, reveals that the ICT dimension is frequently absent from private sector development (PSD) strategies, and neither policymakers nor SME owners in developing countries are harnessing these new possibilities to the fullest.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General was quoted in the report saying, “Although some countries are already taking advantage of the close links between ICTs and private sector development (PSD), much more can be done to make ICTs a powerful force for improving the competitiveness of their private sector.”

According to the report, the expanding range of mobile applications such as text messaging, mobile internet and mobile money can deliver a multitude of highly relevant services for SMEs.

It noted that in some developing countries, high-speed wireless subscriptions now surpass fixed broadband. The report cited data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), indicating that mobile broadband penetration worldwide was about 65% higher than fixed broadband penetration in 2010, but it was 1,400% higher in African countries.

However, the report said several developing countries have yet to launch mobile broadband services.

Governments and other institutions should apply ICTs to make PSD interventions more effective in business environment reforms by providing business development, market information and financial services to SMEs, it said stressing “better data, more research and rigorous impact assessments are needed.”

UNCTAD therefore made the following policy recommendations in the report:

  • Including ICT modules in business skills training programmes
  • Better leveraging of ICTs in support of women´s entrepreneurship
  • Harnessing mobile money services to make financial markets more inclusive;
  • Using ICT tools to reduce the costs of business transactions and to help MSEs bring their goods and services to domestic and international markets
  • Adopting regulatory frameworks to build confidence in the use of new technologies or new applications of a known technology
  • Developing donor guidelines to ensure that the ICT potential is fully reflected in their PSD strategies

By Ekow Quandzie

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.