28 May 2009 | EN | 中文
Poor communities can enhance their livelihoods through ICTs
This policy brief, published by the International Institute for Economic Development (IIED) outlines how and why information and communication technology (ICT) projects do, or do not, work for development.
Rapid growth of ICTs in rural Africa and emerging economies such as Brazil and China is closing the gap in ICTs between North and South. Governments pushing ICT infrastructure projects such as mobile mast networks have successfully reduced access costs for many in the developing world.
But ICTs should also be strategic tools for development. Many ICT for development projects fail because they are technology-led rather than development-led or people-centred. To be successful and sustainable, projects must be tailored to a community's needs and ways of working.
Several examples show how poor communities can enhance their livelihoods through ICTs. The Linking Local Learners initiative in East Africa connects farmers with others in the supply chain through the Internet. The Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative in Uganda provides agricultural extension services through mobile phones. And Grameen Telecom in Bangladesh provides microfinance for women in poor communities to buy and run community phones.
Development agencies should be analysing, and mapping, social network structures. This would help them understand communities' socio-cultural contexts and provide a guide for introducing ICTs in a sensitive way.
Measuring the success of ICT projects is also important. Output indicators such as the number of subscribers are easy to measure but do not report on what the technology is being used for, who is using it or how it is helping to improve livelihoods. More complex analysis is needed that considers impact on money, skills, motivation, confidence, trust and existing knowledge.
A lack of action, says the author, risks increasing the digital divide and losing out on sustainable development opportunities offered by ICTs.
This policy brief was prepared by Ben Garside, IIED website developer and researcher in environmental economics.
DR. MA. EMMALYN A.V. CAPUNO ( Future University Sudan | Sudan )
17 June 2011
I firmly agree with the author. ICT innovations should not be technology-led but must be development-led or people-centred.
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