Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Microsoft Corp. have forged a partnership to enable countries in the Asia Pacific region to benefit from new opportunities created by Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), which ADB views as a critical component in ensuring sustainable economic growth in the region.
"In the Asia and Pacific region, concerns are mounting over the growing ’digital divide,’ the difference between those developing member countries of the ADB that have the capacity and resources to access ICT and those that do not," said ADB Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr.
Numerous studies from the World Summit on Information Societies and the multi-stakeholder Global Alliance for ICT for Development (GAID) have shown that economic performance hinges much on ICT, as it provides developing nations with a wide range of opportunities to meet vital development goals, including poverty reduction, bridging the digital divide and developing content for e-services.
"Information and Communications Technologies play an important role in fighting poverty and fostering development in the Asia Pacific region," said Greenwood. "ADB is pleased to partner with Microsoft to bridge the digital divide and help deliver on this promise."
Through the partnership, ADB and Microsoft will jointly undertake projects, studies and capacity building initiatives in five strategic areas of common interest, including innovation, ICT and governance, ICT and education, enabling jobs and opportunity, and regional integration and trade.
"We share the tremendous optimism evident in this region, and look forward to working with the Asian Development Bank to ensure that every citizen in the region has the chance to realize their full potential" said Gerri Elliot, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft Corp.
Based on ADB’s policy paper Toward E-development in Asia and the Pacific: A Strategic Approach for ICT, three strategic thrusts were proposed, including the creation of an enabling environment by fostering the development of innovative sector policies, the strengthening of public institutions and promoting the development of ICT facilities and related infrastructure networks, building human resources, and developing ICT applications and information contents.
Since 1971, ADB assistance in the telecommunications and ICT sectors has reached US$1.8 billion, or 1.5% of ADB’s total assistance for the period. The telecommunications sector accounted for 86% of that amount from the 1970s to the mid-1990s, while ICT applications received 14% since 2000.