The power and control problems associated with the World Bank’s ‘knowledge’ agenda are confirmed by the recent response to the anti-corruption claim filed on the Bank’s Development Gateway internet scheme. Two prominent Uruguayan civil society members filed the claim to the Bank’s Fraud and Corruption Hotline last July. It alleged serious malpractice involving Bank staff responsible for the Gateway and in how the contract to manage the portal was awarded to the Bank. It also alleged that the Gateway was guided by an external affairs agenda, not a neutral knowledge-sharing one.
After five months of ‘investigation’ the supposedly independent Hotline sent a curt one-page reply merely listing some official documents which were supposed to address the issues raised. Roberto Bissio, Director of the Instituto Tercer Mundo and one of the claimants, commented: “They didn’t seem to have taken much effort in trying to answer the points. It is outrageous.”
Meanwhile the Bank is trying to extend the Gateway’s reach by setting up new Country Gateways. These are effectively national subsidiaries of the main internet site. Tanzania is one country the Bank is targeting for such a Gateway, but it is finding it hard to drum up support. A statement from the Tanzanian Association of NGOs urged a boycott of the Development Gateway and support for “smaller, African based websites which allow local communities to define their own development issues”.