Important Key Points to Consider:
  1. Communication, not technology, should be the central concern.

  2. Strong health systems and other basic services are essential for effective use of ICTs.

  3. Increased capacity to access, organize, repackage, and use information effectively is a major priority.

  4. Local ownership, participation, and content improve the relevance of ICT activities.

  5. ICTs should complement other communication work and be integrated into broader programs.

It is useful to distinguish between the parts of information and communication technology by looking at the:

  • technology itself,

  • information that the technology helps to convey, and

  • communication process that the technology is meant to facilitate and through which the information is meant to flow.

An issue that has been discussed in the past few years and is also a factor that drives the technological push is the concept of a “digital divide.” The G-8 Digital Opportunity Taskforce (DOT Force) defines it as “unequal possibilities to access and contribute to information, knowledge, and networks as well as to benefit from the development enhancing capabilities of ICT”(Chetley, 2001).

The digital divide is an integral part of a much broader and more intractable “development divide.” The likelihood that people in low-income countries can improve their life chances is often sharply limited not only by their lack of access to modern means of communication and sources of information, but also by a complex network of constraints ranging from unresolved problems of poverty and injustice in their own societies (Alcantara, 2001).

To a very large degree, low-income countries depend on foreign institutions and actors to create both an adequate telecommunications infrastructure and a regulatory framework that is progressive and fair. Development assistance is crucial in this regard. The effort is likely to be more effective if it takes place within the context of national ICT strategies, which make explicit the need to adapt available technical and economic options to the needs of specific countries. These strategies should also provide a framework for better national coordination of many disparate efforts, by NGOs and others, to use ICTs to improve public administration and social services, and to support democracy in developing countries (Alcantara, 2001).

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