Citing the positive effects telecommunications and mobile networks have had on developing countries, the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. has announced plans to invest in content and media companies, and is understood to be exploring how it can best invest in creative industries. The news article at digit describes both the profitability (for investors) and value (for residents) mobile telephony has provided in Africa in recent years.
The World Bank and the IFC are making investments in media and content in the belief that it is part of the ‘next cycle’. For the World Bank, the investment appears to be based on the rationale that a) it will provide high return on investment, and b) it will do good things for people in developing countries.
It also assumes that content is one of the next industries to experience rapid growth. Yet (to take a highly nuanced account of the history of content) content has ‘always’ been around, and it’s distribution has been limited by and reliant on the production and distributive technologies of the day.
Suffice to say, the announcement is further evidence of the growing consensus of the complementarities between network infrastructure and content, and that the presence of content supports the growth of ICT networks and economic development. Content creation however, is arguably a much tougher investment than network infrastructure, so it will be interesting to see how the World Bank chooses to enter the content fray.