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					John A. Daly                                                                   December 3, 2003

                                The Partnership Goal:
                Access to Information and Communication Technologies

                                       Author: John Daly

This is the last in a series of essays dealing with information and communication
technologies (ICT) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).1 It relates to Goal 8,
―Develop a global partnership for development.‖ This Goal differs in form and substance
from the others, focusing primarily on policy changes agreed upon by the nations
gathered at the United Nations Millennium Assembly. In most cases, the role of ICT
appears minimal in achieving the related targets or in engendering improvements
measured against the identified indicators.

One target under this Goal is to make the benefits of ICT available to the poor.2 The
target and relevant indicators are shown below:

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
               Target                                               Indicators
   In cooperation with the private sector,         Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per
    make available the benefits of new               100 population
    technologies, especially information and        Personal computers in use per 100 population
    communications                                  Internet users per 100 population

The remainder of this essay will focus on that target alone, while a brief comment on the
other targets and indicators is included as an Appendix.

It is of course important to increase the numbers of telephone lines, personal computers
and Internet users in developing countries. However, doing so will do comparatively little
to make the benefits of ICT available to the poor in developing nations. Consequently,
this essay will seek to take a contrarian position, focusing on broader ICT access issues.

  The first six were: 1) ―Information and Communication Technologies and the Improvement of Health‖
( ); 2) ―Education, Information and
Communication Technologies, and The Millennium Development Goals‖
( ); 3) ―Information and
Communication Technologies and the Eradication of Hunger‖; 4) ―ICT, Gender Equality and
Empowering Women‖;
5) ―ICT and Ensuring Environmental Sustainability‖; and 6.) ―ICT for Poverty
Reduction & Economic Growth‖
  This was the subject of a recent Development Gateway Highlight. ―Improving Internet Access in
Developing Countries.‖
The Knowledge Economy Topic Page is also featuring materials on the development of the information
infrastructure in developing nations.

John A. Daly                                                                    December 3, 2003

Table 1 presents statistics on national ICT connectivity, according to national income.
The data are somewhat out of date, but are useful to illustrate some points. First, in low
income and lower-middle income countries, radio and television are much more available
than are telephones and computers. They should be a primary focus of attention.

                 Table 1: Information and Communication Infrastructure Connectivity
                                                Per 1,000 people                       Internet
                                                                                      hosts per
                            Daily                     Telephone       Mobile Personal   10,000
                                    Radios Television
                         Newspapers                   Mainlines       Phones Computers people
                                     1997 Sets 1998
                            1998                         1998          1998    1998    January
Low income                               157      76         23          2         3.2     0.37
Lower middle income                      322      250        90         18        13.6     2.83
Upper middle income           89         493      285        176        76        53.1     35.88
High income                   286       1286      661        567        265       311.2   777.22

Low and middle income                    263       172       69          17       15.6     5.4
East Asia & Pacific                      302       228       70          25       14.1    2.69
Europe & Central Asia        102         442       353       200         23       34.6    18.87
Latin America & Caribbean     71         420       255       123         45       33.9    22.33
Middle East & North Africa    33         274       135       81           8        9.9    0.55
South Asia                               112        61       19           1        2.9    0.22
Sub-Saharan Africa            12         198        52       14           5        7.5    2.73
Source: World Development Report 2000-2001, Table 19

Radio and Television

Note that in high income countries, a family of four would have – on average – five
radios and 2.6 television sets. Why? Clearly part of the reason is that people place
different receivers in different places; they increase the number of sets in order to
increase the portion of the day in which they have access to the set. Another part of the
reason is that what family members really seek is access to programming, rather than
access to a device. I would suggest that a more important index of access for the
electronic media would be the number of hours per day that the individual has access to
programming. However, such averages often mask poverty. Thus, in terms of the MDG,
which after all focus on poverty reduction, a more meaningful indicator would be the
portion of families that have access to neither television nor radio.

Table 2 shows the growth in the numbers of radio and television receivers worldwide
over a 27 year period. The data suggest that the number of radios more than doubled in
the period, while the number of televisions more than quadrupled. The accompanying
map (see Attachment 1) of the distribution of television sets demonstrates, however, how
very uneven is the distribution of broadcast access among nations. Distribution also
favors urban over rural areas.

John A. Daly                                                                   December 3, 2003

                      Table 2: Growth in Radio and Television Receivers
                                 Number of radio
                                                       Number of television

                                 Total per 1,000 Total per 1,000
                               (millions) inhabitants (millions) inhabitants

                       1970       906         245         299          81
                       1975      1 173        288         408         100
                       1980      1 384        312         563         127
                       1985      1 684        348         749         155
                       1990      2 075        394        1 092        208
                       1991      2 138        400        1 137        213
                       1992      2 180        401        1 175        216
                       1993      2 216        402        1 210        220
                       1994      2 258        404        1 264        226
                       1995      2 313        408        1 297        229
                       1996      2 396        417        1 366        238
                       1997      2 432        418        1 396        240
                    Source: UNESCO

Moreover, it is not only access to receivers that counts. An indicator of the number of
available radio and television stations is useful in clarifying the extent of people‘s access
to information. It is estimated that in 2002 there were 47,776 active radio stations in the
world (up from 43,773 in 2000), providing 70 million hours of original programming; in
the same year there were an estimated 21,264 television stations (essentially unchanges
from 21,342 in 2000), providing 31 million hours of original programming.4
(Interestingly, ―as of 2001, there were over 35,000 online radio stations.‖5) The
distribution of these is very uneven across nations – while in 2002 the United States had
13,261 radio stations, Rwanda was reported to have three; while the United States had
1,994 television stations, none was reported in Rwanda.6

  ―How Much Information 2003,‖
2003/broadcast.htm; and ―How Much Information 2000,‖
  ―How Much Information 2003.‖
  Idem, and the ―CIA World Factbook‖ -- Rwanda.

John A. Daly                                                                   December 3, 2003

Access to a monopolistic, state-run station‘s broadcasts broadcasting political
propaganda does not seem very desirable. Indeed people probably seek access to
programming relevant to their own interests, in a language they can understand. Thus
farmers are likely to seek different broadcasts than fishermen, mothers different
broadcasts than students. In Africa and Asia, countries sometimes have many official
languages and many people who only speak other then the local official language.
Ideally, one would seek an indicator of programming diversity and quality. Combining
both diversity and quality, one might seek an indicator of the average programming
quality of each station/channel, summed over all channels. Such an indicator might show
the importance of the growing community radio movement, in which low-power stations
are springing up in large numbers to provide broadcasting directly relevant to local
communities, in their own languages.

Overall Pattern of Funding

A study of the world‘s information and communication technology spending contends
that the global high tech industry grew from $2.3 trillion to $2.4 trillion between 2000
and 2001. During this period, the United States was the largest ICT spending nation on
earth ($812.6 billion in 2001), while China was the world‘s fastest growing ICT spending
nation, growing more than 15%.7 The top ten information economies out of the 52
countries studies represent 80 percent of the global ICT marketplace, and the bottom ten
represent less than one percent.8

The following figure shows the OECD expenditures on telephony and information
technology in 2001.9 While the pattern is likely to be different in developing nations,
these figures do illustrate an important point.

                                             Figure 1

  The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), February 28, 2002.
  The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), undated.
  OECD Information Technology Outlook 2002: Highlights.

John A. Daly                                                                                           December 3, 2003

Telecommunications represent 39% of the total, while computers, software, and
computer services represent the majority of all expenditures on ICT in developed nations.


The growth of mainline and mobile telecommunications is shown in Table 3.
                               Table 3: Growth as Measured by Key ICT Indicators (World
                                                                                                                       a           b
                              1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000                        2001 2002           2003
Main telephone lines
                              546    572    604    643     689       738   792   846    905    983 1'053       1'129       1'210
Mobile cellular
                              16     23      34     56     91        145   215   318    490    740     955     1'155       1'329
subscribers (millions)
International telephone
                              38     43      49     57     63        71    79    89     100    118     127      135        140
traffic minutes (billions)5
Personal computers
                              130    155    175    200     235       275   325   375    435    500     555      615        650
Internet users (millions)     4.4     7      10     21     40        74    117   183    277    399     502      580        665
Source: International Telecommunications Union,

Impressive as has been the rate of growth of main telephone lines, the growth of mobile
telephony has been greater still. Mobile phones have risen in number from some 16
million to 1.3 billion, exceeding the number of main telephone lines, in a dozen years!
It is important not to interpret this data as suggesting that two and one-half billion
families now have telephone connections. Indeed, the people who had fixed-wire
telephones in the early 1990‘s were surely those most likely to obtain cell phones in the
following decade. Thus, it is almost certain that the introduction of mobile phones
introduced a new dimension to the digital divide. Before, in poor countries there were
some people who had phones and more who did not; after, there were some people who
had both fixed line and cell phones and more who had neither. As indicated by the data in
Table 1, the distribution of phones is highly skewed toward rich countries.

Rapid growth of telecommunications in developing countries has been shown to have
been stimulated by liberalization policies.10 ―Both privatization and competition lead to
significant improvements in performance.‖11 One must assume that in part this has been
the result of added capital brought by the related increase in foreign direct investment
(and supported by the technological and managerial advantages that are often brought by

   ―Effective Competition in Telecommunications Drives Sector Growth,‖ The World Bank, December
   Fink, Carsten, Aaditya Mattoo, and Randeep Rathindran, ―An Assessment of Telecommunications
Reform in Developing Countries,‖ World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2909, October 2002.

John A. Daly                                                                      December 3, 2003

such investments).12 Appropriate regulatory policies encouraging universal access have
also been shown to promote rural access within a liberalized policy environment.13
The growth of connectivity has been enhanced by technological advances, especially
wireless telephony.14 Similarly, the development of telecenter and community kiosk
models for rural telephony,15 as well as social innovations such as the Grameenphone,16
have helped build connectivity in rural areas.

While emphasis in this section has been on ―last mile‖ phone connectivity, it must be
recognized that building the telephone infrastructure for developing nations also involves
developing fiber-optic trunk lines, underwater cables, satellite networks, and so forth – an
entire infrastructure without which the telephones themselves would be of little value.

Personal Computers

Table 3, above, indicates that the number of personal computers in the world increased
from 130 million in 1991 to an estimated 650 million in 2003. This period saw personal
computers become standardized commodities on world markets, with the industry
pioneering both online sales for distribution and ―mass customization,‖ as customers
were able to specify speed and memory size for devices assembled quickly to order from
standardized parts. The growth of the PC industry is in fact underestimated by the
numbers, since the average personal computer of 2003 is a much faster machine, with
more memory and better accessories than its counterpart in 1991.

According to Dedrick and Kraemer:17

        In 1990, PC makers captured 49% of profits in the PC industry, while suppliers,
        including Microsoft and Intel captured 51%. By 1995, the share of profits
        captured by PC makers had dropped to 27.5% and in 2000 to just 13%. Profits
        also were falling or had disappeared in more cyclical components industries, such
        as DRAM, hard disk drives and flat-panel displays. Meanwhile, the profits of

   Guislain, Pierre A. and Christine Zhen-Wei Qiang, ―Foreign Direct Investment in the Telecom Sector,‖
The World Bank, December 2003.
   Dymond, Andrew, and Sonja Oestmann; Rural Telecommunications Development In A Liberalizing
Environment: An Update On Universal Access Funds, The World Bank, December 2003.
   C.f. the Development Gateway Special Feature, ―Improving Internet Access in Developing Countries.‖
   C.f. the Development Gateway Special Feature, ―Community Telecenters: Assuring Impact &
   Dedrick, Jason and Kenneth L. Kraemer, ―Globalization of the Personal Computer Industry:
Trends and Implications,‖ Center for Research on Information Technology in Organizations of the
University of California, Irvine, 2002, pages 11-12.

John A. Daly                                                                     December 3, 2003

        Microsoft and Intel continued to grow, and now account for over 80% of the
        industry‘s profits.

The Asia-Pacific region is now, and has been for more than two decades, the largest
producer of computer hardware, by the year 2000 accounting for some 47% of the
world‘s total. Developing countries that have created significant computer industries
include Singapore (ranked third by value of production in the world in 2000), China
(ranked 4), Taiwan (5), Malaysia (8), Mexico (9), Brazil (11), Thailand (12), and South
Korea (13). Most developing nations do not produce PCs.18 The trade in computers has
increased globally as shown in the following figure.19

                                         Figure 2
                            Computer Hardware Imports by Region

Table 1indicates that the per capita availability of personal computers was two orders of
magnitude greater in high income than in low income countries in 1998, with middle
income countries having intermediate levels of access.

As the number of PCs has almost doubled since that time, it is likely that there has been
some reduction in this ratio. Indeed, private sector sources suggest that the number of
PCs in use reached one billion in 2002, to rise to reach two billion by 2008.20 ―In the
major, developed regions of the world such as Western Europe and the USA, ownership
of current PC technology is reaching a level of penetration that could be described as
saturation.‖21 But access to PCs is still severely limited in many developing countries.

The relatively slow penetration of PCs into developing nations has been attributed to
many causes, such as computer complexity and the lack of human and institutional

   Lewis, Margaret, ―Personal Computers are Rapidly Evolving and Proliferating Worldwide,‖ Compiler,
August, 2003.

John A. Daly                                                                    December 3, 2003

capacity to deal with the technology. Kraemer and Dedrick22 find some evidence to
suggest that, as one would expect, liberalization increases access to computers in
developing nations. Rodríguez and Wilson23 find more generally that ―countries enjoy
greater technological progress when they produce:
 A climate of democratic rights and civil liberties that is conducive to innovation and
    adaptation of ICTs.
 Respect for the rule of law and security of property rights.
 Investment in Human Capital. And
 Low levels of government distortions.‖

It has been perceived that the PC industry focused on producing more computer power
rather than lower priced machines, while the software industry produces generation after
generation of software that provides more service and features to the consumer by
utilizing the more powerful PC. Innovators in several countries have sought to break this
cycle, which keeps information technology unaffordable in poor countries, by developing
computers that meet the minimum needs at low cost.24 Whether these efforts will be
successful in increasing the rate of dissemination of PCs in developing countries remains
to be seen.


Access to software involves access to packaged software and access to software services.
In developing countries the former has often been accomplished by means of piracy – and
with increasing levels of support for international regulation of infringement of
intellectual property rights, developing countries face a problem of future access. In the
case of software services, access involves producing the services domestically, or
importing them. The importation of such services raises issues of market liberalization,
while at the same time, the ability to service a large internal market supports the
development of industrial capacity needed to function in international markets.

―Both packaged software and software-related services have a growing share in overall
ICT markets,‖ according to the OECD.25 ―World packaged software markets were
estimated at US$196 billion in 2001, 95% of which in OECD countries.‖ The total world
software market was estimated at US$600 billion in 2002, with another US$100 billion in
the market for digital content, including video games and animation.26

   Kraemer, Keneth L. and Jason Dedrick, ―Liberalization and the Computer Industry: A Comparison of
Four Countries,‖ Center for Research on Information Technologies in Organizations, University of
California, Irvine, 2000.
   Rodríguez, Francisco and Ernest J. Wilson, III, ―Are Poor Countries Losing the Information
Revolution?‖ infoDev, May, 2000.
   See the Development Gateway Key Issue on such low cost computers.
   OECD Information Technology Outlook 2002: Highlights.
   Barr, Avron and Shirley Tessler, ―Korea and the Global Software Industry,‖ Aldo Ventures, Inc.,
October 2002.

John A. Daly                                                                      December 3, 2003

―The software sector experienced 100 percent growth between 1995 and 2001, exceeding
any other ICT sector,‖ according to WITSA.27 ―The Middle East/Africa spends a greater
percentage of every dollar on software than any other region.‖

India, Israel and Ireland are seen as software development success stories, each having
developed a multi-billion dollar software export industry. Their trajectories are quite
different. ―India has built its reputation on the ability of its software engineers to build
systems to order, mainly on sub-contract from US and European corporations, often by
placing the engineers on site in the clients' offices. Ireland, by contrast, produces and sells
packaged products, and does not compete with India (or anyone else) for bespoke work.
Israel is closer to the Irish model than the Indian, but has not become involved in

China and Russia have established rapidly maturing software industries, and are likely to
export $1 billion in software by 2010.29 Carmel distinguishes a third tier of emerging and
a fourth tier of infant software exporting nations, distinguishing them from the majority
of developing nations that will have no software export industry for the foreseeable

There are a number of prescriptions for developing national software policies.31 One
major possibility would be to substitute Open Source and Free software for commercial
software packages.32

The Internet

Table 4 indicates Internet population by region of the world. It shows as expected, that
North America and Latin America are more connected than other regions, and illustrates
the very low connectivity in Africa.

A point worthy of note is that the number of Internet connections is approaching the
number of personal computers in the world, and is about half the number of fixed line
telephones. The growth of the Internet has been extremely rapid to date, because it has

   ―Digital Planet 2002: The Global Information Economy: Executive Summary‖ World Information
Technology and Services Alliance, 2002.
   Gallen, Seamus, ―Background to the Irish Software Industry,‖ Enterprise Ireland, November 2001.
   Carmel, Erran, ―Taxonomy of New Software Exporting Nations,‖ EJISDC (2003) 13, 2, 1-6.
   E.g. Tessler, Shirley, Avron Barr and Nagy Hanna, ―National Software Industry Development:
Considerations for Government Planners,‖ EJISDC (2003) 13, 10, 1-17.; Tessler, Shirley, Avron Barr and Nagy
Hanna, ―The Role of Software in ICT Strategy,‖ Development Gateway.; and Carmel,
Erran, ―The New Software Exporting Nations: Success Factors,‖ EJISDC (2003) 13, 4, 1-12.
   See the Open Source Software Key Issue of the Development Gateway ICT for Development Topic

John A. Daly                                                                          December 3, 2003

been accomplished largely by connecting existing PCs through existing fixed telephone
lines to the Net – thus the marginal cost of such a connection has been relatively low. It
seems likely that the nature of the process will soon change.

                                Table 4: World Internet Connectivity
                    Internet Connections1         Population2            Connections per capita3
   World Total           605,600,000            6,228,394,430                 0.097232121
       Africa             6,310,000              838,720,286                  0.007523366
   Asia/Pacific          187,240,000            7,067,114,716                 0.026494547
      Europe             190,910,000             728,630,023                  0.262012261
   Middle East            5,129,999              178,573,566                  0.028727651
  Canada & USA           182,670,000             498,915,875                   0.36613387
  Latin America           33,350,000             359,469,080                  0.092775712
1 NUA Internet Surveys September 2002.
2 US Bureau of the Census, for 2002,
3 online divided by population
Terems used: "Near East" by Census and "Middle East" by NUA
The "Near East" estimate is included in others by Census so the populations don't sum to the total

For some time the growth of the Internet can continue by means of people buying new
PCs to use in conjunction with existing telephonic connectivity. This, of course, will have
higher marginal costs than simply hooking an existing computer to the Internet via an
existing phone line, and is likely to produce less rapid growth. When the available phone
lines are saturated, one can expect to see some growth by simultaneous purchase of
telephone connectivity, PCs and Internet connectivity – but growth by this process will be
slower still.

Alternative patterns of Internet growth may be in the offing, involving new patterns of
connectivity: direct connection of hand-held, wireless devices to the Internet, or Internet
connectivity for objects with embedded processors. If and when these patterns come to
play a large role in Internet traffic, they are likely to change our very conception of the

The development of the Internet also responds to a number of policy decisions. Among
these are the choice of whether to allow private Internet Service Providers or to limit the
field to a public ISP, the number of ISPs to license, tariff schedules for international and
long distance service for Internet users, satellite linkage licensing, regulation of cyber
cafes, e-rate policies, tax rates on Internet purchases, and policies on the creation and
operation of multi-purpose cyber-centers in public facilities. There is some evidence that
good policies do lead to greater Internet penetration.33


The semiconductor chip is basic to both telecommunications systems and computers, as
well as to radios and televisions. However, chips are also increasingly important to the
automotive industry, consumer durables, other consumer electronics, and to industrial

  Daly, John A, ―A Comparison: Leland versus non-Leland Countries,‖ Center for International
Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, 1999.

John A. Daly                                                                     December 3, 2003

machinery and processes. It seems clear that their role in almost all such applications is
one of information processing and/or communications. Thus the line between electronics
and ICT is blurred, if it exists at all. Access to electronics of course involves not only the
availability of products incorporating the technology, but that of electronic devices
themselves, and the technological know-how to utilize those devices.

Figure 334 illustrates the distribution of the semiconductor market. That market
worldwide is estimated at $208.8 billion in 2004.35 ―Electronic equipment revenue is
forecast to rise to $1.08 trillion in 2004, up 8 percent from $1 trillion in 2003.‖36
                                            Figure 3
                                  The Semiconductor Market

The Digital Divide

The Figure 437 provides estimates of per capita spending on ICT versus per capita GDP.
It suggests that while some rich nations are spending $3000 per capita per year or more
on ICT, a number of poor countries are spending less than $50 per capita per year. How
are we to interpret these differences of more than an order of magnitude? One certainly
must assume that the high spending countries are doing much more to ―make available
the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.‖

Clearly, markets for basic ICT commodities saturate. There are only so many telephones
one can use at a time, so many radios one can listen to simultaneously. One must assume
   Andrey, Doug, ―Robust Global Electronics Industry Recovery in Sight,‖ Compiler, April 2003.
   ―Chip Revenue To Climb 17% in 2004,‖ Electronic News, 12/1/2003. http://www.reed-
   Calculated from data in the World Development Report, 2002.

John A. Daly                                                                                                  December 3, 2003

that countries spending large amounts per capita on ICT are also buying things that poor
countries can not afford.

                                                                    Figure 4
                                                      ICT Expenditures versus Per Capita GDP



                                                                               y = 0.0841x
                                                                               R = 0.9403
     ICT Per Capita

                                                                                                                  Expenditures per
                      2000                                                                                        capita
                                                                                                                  Linear (ICT
                                                                                                                  Expenditures per
                      1500                                                                                        capita)



                             0   5,000   10,000   15,000   20,000   25,000   30,000    35,000   40,000   45,000
                                                           GDP Per Capita

U. S. nonfarm business productivity growth accelerated from a 2.45 percent annual rate
during 1995-2000 to 3.34 percent annual growth rate between 2000 and 2003.38 These
very high rates seem related to sustained, earlier high rates of investment in ICT and in
the human and institutional capital to utilize the technology well.

We might expect the ICT investments that most raise productivity to be those in areas
such as banking and finance, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and design of
products with embedded ICT. Huge ICT investments have been made in the ICT industry
itself, which leads the nation in rate of productivity increase. Thus the thousands of
dollars per capita more ICT investment in the United States (than in poor countries) goes
not only into more telephones and PCs, but into the more advanced industrial information
infrastructure, making industry more productive – buying systems and technologies
largely unaffordable and absent from developing nations.

 Gordon, Robert J., ―Five Puzzles in the Behavior of Productivity, Investment, and Innovation,‖ Global
Competitiveness Report, 2003-2004, (draft chapter), September 10, 2003. http://faculty-

John A. Daly                                                               December 3, 2003

Unless and until the MDG includes indicators for access to these ICT that increase
industrial productivity, the MDG are likely to fail to measure the factors most responsible
for achieving its target – making the benefits of ICT available to poor people in poor
nations. This is an important defect in the conceptualization of the MDG themselves; in
their focus on indicators of access to the last mile infrastructure directly serving the poor,
the targets and goals miss other indicators that might better indicate the degree to which
ICT contributes to economic growth and the reduction of poverty. Ultimately, access to
telephones, PCs and the Internet are poor surrogates for access to the benefits from the
broader range of ICT.

Final Comments

It is true that in some regions the access to ICT is growing rather quickly. One must
assume that the same technology (in the sense of the knowledge of how to do things) is
available to all countries; the difference in the rate of adoption and application of the
technology must lie in social, economic and other factors – not the technology, per se.
The MDG focus on the reduction of the worst aspects of poverty, and one may assume
that under the right circumstances, the growing ICT infrastructure and industry can be
applied to that end. However, as the rate of adoption of the technology and investment in
ICT infrastructure varies due to a multitude of social and economic factors, so too can we
expect the rate of application and the distribution of benefits from that application to vary
due to social and economic factors.

The Information Revolution follows the Industrial Revolution, and other economic
revolutions with strong technological aspects. Those revolutions left poverty in most
developing nations virtually untouched. For every country that successfully took
advantage of the technological opportunities, there were many in the developing world
that did not.

The accessibility indicators in Millennium Development Goal 8 reflect a common view
of the nature and importance of the Digital Divide, but it is an oversimplified and
probably fallacious view. The task before us is to mobilize many more countries not only
to improve ICT access, but to improve their application, and to do so in ways that benefit
the poor.

John A. Daly                                                                            December 3, 2003

                               Millennium Development Goal 8:
                        Develop a Global Partnership for Development
                   The Role of Information and Communications Technology

This Goal differs in form and substance from the others. It focuses primarily on policy
changes agreed upon in a consensus of the nations gathered at the United Nations
Millennium Assembly. The efforts highlighted within this Goal included (in addition to
improving access to ICT):
 Targeting official development assistance more toward poor, island and landlocked
   countries, as well as toward services directly relevant to the MDG;
 Better meeting the needs of the least developed countries;
 Better meeting the needs of landlocked and small island states;
 Improving international financial and trading systems;
 Dealing with debt problems of developing nations in order to make debt more
 Improving youth employment;39
 Improving access to pharmaceuticals;40 and
 Improving access to new technologies.

The specific targets and indicators are shown in Attachment-A1.

Most of these efforts require changes in the policies of nations and of international
institutions – changes for which information and communication technologies (ICT) are
largely irrelevant. Thus, while ICT play a useful role in monitoring the allocation of aid
among nations, monitoring the growth of nations, and tracking debt, the reforms
proposed are not technological, but political.

The impacts of ICT on international trading systems do merit further comment here. The
growth of trade has been rapid; total world exports have grown in value in 44 of the last
52 years, sometimes by more than 25 percent per year.41 Similarly, in recent decades
international financial flows have grown in size. Thus, Gross Private Capital Flows have
grown from 10.3 percent of World GDP in 1990 to 21.6 percent of a larger total GDP in
2001; Gross Foreign Direct Investment has grown in the same period from 2.7 of World
GDP to 5.1 percent.42

―Partly (this growth) was due to continuing technical progress in transport and
communications. Containerization and airfreight brought a considerable speeding up of

   This topic was covered in a recent Highlight on the Development Gateway ICT for Development Topic
Page, and so will not be further discussed. See ―ICT & Labor: Threat or Opportunity.‖
   Since this target was discussed in the essay on ICT and the health Goals, it will not be further discussed
   World Trade Organization,
   World Development Report, 2003, Chapter 6,

John A. Daly                                                                      December 3, 2003

shipping, allowing countries to participate in international production networks. New
information and communications technologies mean it is easier to manage and control
geographically dispersed supply chains. And information based activities are 'weightless'
so their inputs and outputs (digitized information) can be shipped at virtually no cost.‖43
If one assumes that progress in ICT contributed to globalization, one might also assume
that it contributed to a process by which ―more than 3 billion people have on average
increased their annual per capita economic growth from 1 percent in the 1960s to 3
percent in the 1970s and 5 percent in the 1990s.‖44

Generalizations aside, the economic forces unleashed by advancing ICT improvements
are complex. Venables argues that ―speculating about the implications of new
technologies is a notoriously risky activity.…Some activities will become more deeply
entrenched in high income countries – and typically in cities in these countries….Other
activities which are more readily transportable and less dependent of face-to-face
communications may move to lower wage countries, and this will be an important force
for development by a small number of countries (or regions) rather than a more uniform
process of convergence….Although new technologies facilitate the relocation of these
activities, the proportion of the world GDP that can ‗operate as though geography has no
meaning‘ is likely to be small.‖45

Moreover, history has demonstrated that international financial and trade systems can
wither without loss of technological potential or global information infrastructure. The
first wave of globalization (from 1870 to 1914) saw great technological advances in the
telegraph, railroad, and ocean shipping. Yet even while these trends continued from 1914
to 1945, global trade, investment and migration decreased precipitously.46 Changes in
policy based on underlying social and economic upheavals easily reversed long standing
globalization trends – even while those trends were supported by continuing
technological improvements.

Finally, ―not all people are benefiting from globalization. According to a World Bank
classification, nearly 1.2 billion people — one fifth of mankind — continue to live in
absolute poverty, with incomes less than $1 a day.5 In many countries, durable economic
and social progress remains elusive. In most of these countries, trade has decreased in the
last 20 years and on average, economic growth has not kept pace with population

   Globalization, Growth and Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy, A World Bank Policy
Research Report, 2002.
   Köhler, Horst, ―Toward a Better Globalization,‖ Lecture in Tübingen, October 16, 2003.
   Venables, Anthony J., ―Geography and International Inequalities: The Impact of New Technologies,‖
Presented at the 13th ABCDE in Washington, The World Bank, May 2001.
   ―The New Wave of Globalization and its Economic Effects,‖ Chapter 1, Globalization, Growth and
Poverty: Building an Inclusive World Economy, A World Bank Policy Research Report, 2002,
   Köhler, Horst, ―Toward a Better Globalization,‖ Lecture in Tübingen, October 16, 2003.

John A. Daly                                                         December 3, 2003

The target under discussion is specifically to:
       Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and
       financial system (includes a commitment to good governance, development, and
       poverty reduction—both nationally and internationally).

This will not be accomplished with information and communications technology. In the
presence of the reforms called for by the MDG, ICT will come into play in ways that are
complex and hard to understand. The technological changes may be expected to promote
growth in some fortunate geographic locations, but perhaps may even encourage changes
damaging to the poorest nations.

John A. Daly                                                                 December 3, 2003

                                  Attachment A1
                     Millennium Development Goal 8: Partnership
                               Targets and Indicators

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
          Category/Targets                                        Indicators
Official development assistance                    Net ODA total and to least developed
                                                    countries, as a percentage of OECD/DAC
                                                    donors' gross income
                                                   Proportion of bilateral, sector-allocable ODA
                                                    of OECD/DAC donors for basic social
                                                    services (basic education, primary health
                                                    care, nutrition, safe water, and sanitation)
                                                   Proportion of bilateral ODA of OECD/DAC
                                                    donors that is untied
                                                   ODA received in landlocked countries as
                                                    proportion of their GNI
                                                   ODA received in small island developing
                                                    states as proportion of their GNI
Address the special needs of the least
developed countries (includes tariff-and
quota-free access for exports enhanced
program of debt relief for HIPC and
cancellation of official bilateral debt, and
more generous ODA for countries committed
to poverty reduction)
Address the special needs of landlocked
countries and small island developing states
(through the Program of Action for the
Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States and 22nd General
Assembly provisions)
Develop further an open, rule-based,               Proportion of total developed country
predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and          imports (excluding arms) from developing
financial system (includes a commitment to          countries and least developed countries
good governance, development, and poverty           admitted free of duties
reduction—both nationally and                      Average tariffs imposed by developed
internationally)                                    countries on agricultural products and
                                                    clothing from developing countries
                                                   Agricultural support estimate for OECD
                                                    countries as a percentage of their GDP
                                                   Proportion of ODA provided to help build
                                                    trade capacity

John A. Daly                                                                  December 3, 2003

Deal comprehensively with the debt                  Total number of countries that have reached
problems of developing countries through             their HIPC decision points and completion
national and international measures in order         points (cumulative)
to make debt sustainable in the long term           Debt relief committed under HIPC initiative,
                                                    Debt service as a percentage of exports of
                                                     goods and services
   In cooperation with developing countries,       Unemployment rate of 15- to 24-year-olds,
    develop and implement strategies for             male and female and total
    decent and productive work for youth
   In cooperation with pharmaceutical              Proportion of population with access to
    companies, provide access to affordable,         affordable, essential drugs on a sustainable
    essential drugs in developing countries          basis
   In cooperation with the private sector,         Telephone lines and cellular subscribers per
    make available the benefits of new               100 population
    technologies, especially information and        Personal computers in use per 100 population
    communications                                  Internet users per 100 population

John A. Daly                  December 3, 2003

               Attachment 1