Reflecting upon the past two weeks, I have found myself going back and forth on the subject of ICT4D. How is ICT best integrated into a developing world? How does one decide if the ICT is the best fit for that country or situation? Can the ICT be sustainable? Is an ICT even the answer when basic necessities are not met? How will the ICT benefit (or hinder) the culture? My goal here is not to offer a ‘save the world’ solution but to highlight some of the most engaging ideas that help to move ICT forward in an effective and sustainable way.
Tim Unwin in a 2010 interview stated that the introduction of technology should be the right fit for a country rather than introducing it and hoping that the technology will be used in some capacity (Unwin 2010). Another, more grandeur, point that Michelle Sellinger makes is this: Most ICT offered to developing nations are presented in a European language “yet cognitive reasoning skills are usually far more developed in the mother tongue. Learning in a second language therefore incurs greater difficulty” (Sellinger 2009). The ICT has to fit, it has to be usable, it has to be designed with the user in mind if not then ICT will not be affective, wont be sustained by the general public and partnerships will begin to fade (with large companies moving on to something more successful).
Sellinger raised an interesting point by stating “There is little value in simply training people in the use of ICT if there is no real reason to use it and if there is no access to ICTs on leaving school” (Sellinger 2009). We have to look past the ICT and look at what industries require educated and well-trained individuals. If no access to ICT’s are provided than those that are trained may look for alternative tertiary education or employment abroad, often leaving the developing nation and never returning (brain drain). ICT trainees must have something to train for and proponents of ICT’s seem to believe that ICT’s themselves will create types of industries that require highly trained and educated people.
I learned many things within this module but one thing sticks out the most: more voices from the developing countries need to be heard in order for the right ICT to be integrated. On a macro level: the Government, and on a micro level: community leaders and educators. The issue of sustainability rests on a strong and personal partnerships between Governments and the private sector. However, Salim Mvury, speaking on ICT’s and development, brought sustainability down to a community level by “mapping out areas that have problems… (this) assists not only planning for projects but also social accountability” (Mvury 2010). Making the community accountable for sustainability preparedness, they are invested in it (money and time) and will work hard to ensure its success.At the end of the day, when the money is spent and the corporation has moved onto another project, it is the local community who will need to sustain the ICT.
Through the individual readings, multimedia, PowerPoint’s and class discussions I am aware that the issues I have addressed here are only partial to the real problems. I am also of the opinion that there is really no clear-cut answer when it comes to the best way to implement ICT4D, as what works for one developing nation, may not work for another.
Mvury, S. (2010, July 30). Interview “ICTS and Development,” Kwale, Kenya
Selinger, M. (2009). ICT in education: Catalyst for development. In T. Unwin (Ed.), ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development, (pp. 206-248). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Unwin, T. (2010, November 26). Address. Interview at “ICT for Rural Economic Development” Conference, Berlin