The ITU has just published a very important report on the role of ICTs in enhancing development in the least developed countries. I was privileged to have been asked to write the foreword, in which I made the following comments:
- “This important ITU report focuses explicitly on the experiences of people living in the world’s ‘Least Developed Countries’ (LDCs). It addresses not only how and why ‘outsiders’ have been eager to offer new ICTs as a means to encourage their ‘development’, but also how technical innovation can occur in some of the poorest countries of the world. Above all, it suggests that there is nothing automatic about the potential contribution of ICTs to ‘development’ processes, however these are defined. If marginalised people and poor countries are to take advantage of ICTs in transforming their fortunes, then specific efforts need to be made to address their needs and aspirations. The market by itself will not deliver on the information and communication requirements of the poorest and most marginalised people and communities”, and
- “This exciting report points in many directions. It highlights both the successes and the failures of ICT initiatives and developments over the last decade, particularly with respect to LDCs. It emphasises the many challenges that still need to be overcome before we can claim that these technologies really have had the equalising benefits that many attendees at WSIS had hoped for. However, above all, it provides suggestions for innovative ways forward through which some of the poorest countries in the world can grasp the potential of ICTs to enhance the lives of their peoples”.
The charts and graphs contained within the volume provide very important evidence that many of the poorest countries and people in the world have not yet benefited from the potential of ICTs, and that very substantial effort is needed to ensure that ICTs do not actually lead to further increases in the differences in access between the world’s richer and poorer people. This is essential reading for all involved in ICT4D.