Promoting Growth in the Digital Economy – IBI Supports ICT Sector in Lao
The USAID/Laos Business Environment Activity focuses on improving SMEs' ability to compete in both domestic and international markets.
Recently, IBI conducted an ICT Value Chain Assessment to take a close look at the current challenges and opportunities encountered by Lao businesses in the ICT sector. We started with an in-depth, end-market value chain analysis to collect data that can be used for further design of targeted technical interventions. We interviewed 56 individuals from Vientiane Capital and Champasak Province. The respondents included representatives of 31 companies, eight educational institutions, four independent consultants, and 13 other sector stakeholders. The research sought to understand the market needs for ICT services, identify constraints, and highlight opportunities for possible project support.
The Assessment identified the main industry market channels and emerging growth segments. The analysis found that there is great potential for growth in exports of ICT services by Lao firms. Based on the results and conclusions, IBI has developed an action plan to support SMEs operating in the ICT space.
Building upon the ICT Value Chain Assessment, the Activity conducted an ICT Business Support Service Ecosystem mapping and gap analysis. The study identified several areas of weakness that can benefit from the Activity’s support, including low capacity of local business development service providers, lack of proper business incubators, and limited funding options.
To ensure gender inclusiveness of our work and to complement the first two studies, the IBI team also led a Gender Lens Analysis (GLA) of the Vientiane SME Service Center (SSC), identifying, among other challenges, lack of awareness and integration of gender inclusivity.
The project team is now developing initiatives to support Lao small and medium ICT service providers to grow their businesses both domestically and internationally. We plan to implement these activities in years two and three of the program. We’ll post our progress, so watch this blog for updates.