Yesterday I heard a speaker at the ICTD 2012 conference in Atlanta say that 80% of the USD 4.2 billion spent by the World Bank on ICTs had been labelled as a failure by the Independent Evaluation Group. I had read the study in detail, and had blogged about it. I still wonder how language such as that below, taken from the report, can be interpreted thus:
In other priority areas, including ICT applications, the Bank Group’s contributions have been limited. Targeted efforts to increase access beyond what was commercially viable have been largely unsuccessful. Support to universal access programs was largely superseded by the roll-out of phone services by the private sector, in some cases supported by World Bank sector reforms. Access for the poor has been more effectively supported through general, non-targeted interventions focused on the enabling environment and direct support to private investments. The World Bank’s record in ICT applications has been modest, despite their significant role in Bank projects.
This to me suggests that general reforms were successful. In some cases, they contributed to failure of the “targeted efforts.” Unless 80% of the World Bank’s disbursements were for “targeted efforts” how could one claim 80% were failures?