Source: Panos London
7 October 2011 | EN
Policies that improve access to ICTs should benefit Zambia's rural populations, such as female market traders
Flickr/The WorldFish Center
This policy brief, published by Panos London, examines Zambia's successes and limitations in using information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development, and suggests how the country can maximise future progress.
Successful ICT projects include an SMS service, run by the Zambia National Farmers Union, which connects small-scale farmers directly to buyers and provides daily price alerts for local produce. The service helps to ensure farmers achieve the best price without a need for third-party agents.
But several challenges have limited the impact of this technology, says the author, David Souter. Whilst mobile phone use has rocketed, the fixed-line telephone network — the country's principal means of Internet access — has failed to keep up, and is largely limited to urban and industrial areas.
Zambia also suffers from inadequate connections to international communication infrastructures, making Internet access expensive. The costs of line rental and hardware means that home Internet access is out of reach for most Zambians.
The lack of a ministry dedicated to ICT has delayed the implementation of a national policy, which was adopted in 2006. And inflexible regulations make it difficult for service providers to operate and introduce new services.
These constraints, amongst others, must be addressed to improve ICT access for all Zambians, in particular those in rural areas, such as small-scale farmers and female market traders, says Souter.
A key step is to reduce consumer costs. This can be achieved by improving ICT infrastructure, in particular the fibre optics network, or using tax breaks to increase access to cheaper hardware and software.
The government must also develop a more organised and effective ICT strategy based on consultation with partners, including local stakeholders and the private sector. Public-private partnerships should have a key role in building infrastructure and coordinating network installations to reach areas that remain underserved.
It is crucial that ICT programmes are not just technology driven, says Souter. Policymakers need to learn from experience showing that projects are much more successful when they begin on a small scale, are locally run and focus on meeting the needs of communities.
This policy brief was written by David Souter from Panos London, UK.
malik ( Pakistan )
10 October 2011
ICT4D should be user driven rather than by distant consultants. It must be locally networked with the closest Academia outfit i.e. University/Polytechnic or even a Vocational Training Institute to continuously improve the delivery of ICT4D at the local level and make an impact on the local economy.
Raymond Onyenezi Ogbu ( Nigeria )
23 January 2012
My name is Raymond Onyenezi Ogbu from Nigeria. I am a public Relations Officer in the National office for Technology Aqcuisition and promotion. I want to thank you so much for this wonderful website whereby problems militating against most third world countries are discussed. Yes, science and innovation policies are very vital because without policies guiding inventions and innovations, researchers are at the mercies of their employers and masters and this will continue to slow down innovation which is a sure way development of any country. My country for instance just approved Science and Technology Policy last year by November 2011. This has clearly defined what researchers stand to gain by carrying out research that is focused towards solving national challenges like some endemic illnesses.
alexis ( Rwanda )
1 November 2012
I am alexis from Rwanda. First of all let me correct my friend Raymond anyenezi. we should not use the word "third world countries" but developing countries. Regarding the issue of Zambia,there is no need to begin by investing in huge ICT projects where we know that policies and regulations are not well organized, just start up with small one and focus them towards solving the needs of population. Zambia can also cooperate with regional countries like Rwanda, Nigeria, etc in order to gain their experiences and see how their ICT institutions are managing projects.
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