Representatives of government, academia, industry and the nonprofit sector met Sept. 22-23 for Microsoft's ICT for Development conference, which Devex helped organize. Talks ranged from how to improve information technology's use in the classroom to the role of NGOs in promiting ITC and stategies for spreading ITC to a wider audience.
Many of ICT's successes were outlined in talks and panel discussions over the two days, as well as challenges to using ICT more effectively. One of the ways these challenges are being met is through public-private partnerships. Private companies or organizations (like Microsoft) partner with public organizations (like the U.S. Agency for International Development) on projects, allowing government to tap private resources while retaining some power over how funds will be used.
This advantage also is a disadvantage: These partnerships rely on private companies. Anyone following the market these days knows times are tough in the private sector. Many times, when the belt has to be tightened, charitable giving or development funding is the first to be cut. This raises an interesting question - if the economic downturned is sustained, how much less money is going to be given towards development-related causes? How will private-public partnerships suffer if economic conditions force the private sector to cut costs?