Background paper

ICT, economic performance and governance in developing countries


Bedasso, B. 2019. ICT, economic performance and governance in developing countries.  Pathways for Prosperity Commission Background Paper Series; no. 18. Oxford. United Kingdom

This paper aims to shed light on the link between ICT, economic performance and quality of government in the developing world. We employ quantitative data from low and lower-middle income countries to highlight the potential causes and consequences of cross-country variations in ICT access and use. We mainly focus on mobile telephony and broadband internet as two of the most common pillars of ICT. Our analysis indicates that wealthier and more urbanised countries have been in a better position to take advantage of the mobile telephony revolution. The rate of broadband subscriptions is a more accurate predictor of individual internet usage and the use of secure servers by businesses than the more generic indicator of mobile subscriptions. Contemporary rates of ICT access and use are shown to be positively correlated with key economic indicators such as per capita income and value addition in the agricultural and service sectors. However, significant regional inequalities seem to prevail, as shown by the much weaker and sometimes counter-intuitive relationships in African countries. The analysis of subnational data from 17 African countries shows that the spatial distribution of mobile access and use within countries tends to become more equitable as the overall rate of access and use increases.