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World Bank and CIIC seek further cooperation

china.org.cn / chinagate.cn, June 14, 2017 Adjust font size:

On June 12, 2017, Alexander Ferguson, Senior Manager for External Communication in the South Asia Region of the World Bank, paid a visit to China Internet Information Center (CIIC). At the background of the Belt and Road Initiative, he sought cooperation with CIIC in knowledge sharing on poverty reduction, including content building, research expertise and think tanks.

Alexander Ferguson, Senior Manager for External Communication in the South Asia Region of the World Bank

CIIC:

As one of the most underdeveloped regions in the world, South Asia has been struggling long against poverty. Since the reform and opening up, China has also come a long way in this cause, by lifting more than 700 million people out of poverty. In your opinion, what kinds of cooperation and knowledge sharing should be promoted?

Alexander Ferguson:

Thank you very much for inviting me here. It’s a pleasure to be here. I think that there is enormous potential for cooperation. And I think we also have to acknowledge that there is a lot of cooperation happening already. Quite clearly there is the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative, which means that there is going to be a lot of work between China and countries in South Asia. And this will be an area of cooperation that will teach countries in South Asia a lot about the development successes in China. I think quite specifically that the areas of cooperation for South Asia and things South Asia can learn from China are in rural development, in the reform of state-owned enterprises and also in other sort of innovations in infrastructure and so on. And also in areas like e-commerce and how poor populations have been linked to markets, which China has really pioneered in many ways. For China and South Asia, I think areas of cooperation and learning can be in looking at some of the development and innovations South Asia has had in microfinance and community-driven development, but also perhaps looking at some of the way that universities have been very successful in training quite outstanding civil servants and so on. These could be areas that China could learn from South Asia.

CIIC:

China and India are the two biggest developing countries. They have shared many similarities in national conditions and development path. But what are the biggest differences between the two countries in terms of the strategy adopted by World Bank in reducing poverty?

Alexander Ferguson:

One of the things to start is the common strategies the World Bank employs and that is that countries themselves are in charge of their development and the World Bank is here to support them. And our strategies in both countries are very closely aligned with what the countries want to do. So they follow these longer-term plans that the governments have laid out for economic development. I think obviously the two countries are quite different, so the strategies have to be quite different. China is a middle income country trying to become a high income country. India is a middle income country trying to be a higher middle income country. So it’s quite different. In China the strategy focuses on green growth, on inclusion and on sharing China’s development experiences and its relations through south-south development with other countries. In India the strategy is really focused on shifting resources to the low income states in India. That is roughly one in five people living in extreme poverty around the world. One in five of them is an Indian, and many of them live in low income states. So the need is to try to promote development in those low income states. And that’s gonna be done through a strategy that focuses on infrastructure, rural urban development and promoting inclusion particularly with an emphasis on nutrition, education, health. So these are the two quite different approaches that we’ve got for the two countries.

CIIC:

In April, CIIC held a seminar in Rome to promote the Global Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth Portal. And in May, Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database was launched. Do you have any comment on the portal and the database? What role do you think can ICT play in sharing information on poverty reduction?

Alexander Ferguson:

I think it was the great economist John Maynard Keynes who said that it’s ideas that really are the most important thing. And I think ideas can be very powerful. And I think the portal is very important, because it can share ideas. It can show how development has changed people’s lives and improved it. And so having access to that, for lots of people, can be a big change in the speed of the development and in how ideas are spread. China has a lot of great successes in development. And this portal can show the world those successes. For example, like e-commerce in how linking farmers to markets, and how to make them essentially participate in the global economy more effectively. That’s something China has done. And this portal can show that and also it can promote that as an idea. So I think it’s got a lot of potential and it’s a very valuable initiative.

And the database is also important, because the database is important for showing being able to share information among think tanks, among researchers, among people trying to get data that can contribute to knowledge about development. And so that’s also an extremely important initiative.

I think the role that ICT can play is the cost of, for example, things like telephony, mobile telephony are going down and down all the time, which means that more and more poor people are getting access to this kind of technology, which means that if you can distribute information on those platforms, you are getting access actually to people who before you won’t get access to. But also those people often are the people who are get benefitting from the projects that are being done. And you can in fact through this technology, get a kind of two-way communication going. And that is something that’s very valuable. It can be very valuable in trying to get information back to the project sponsors about how successful the project is. It can also inform the people who are benefitting from the project about how the project is working. So I think that it’s something with enormous potential for development.

 

 
 
 
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