Information and communication technologies: resolving inequalities?

It was great to be invited to give a lecture in the Societat Catalana de Geografia in Barcelona on the subject of “Information and Communication Technologies: resolving inequalities?” on Tuesday 4th October in the Ciclo de Conferencias Programa Jean Monnet convened by my great friend Prof. Jordi Marti Henneberg on the theme of Los Desafîos de lintegración Europea.  This was such an honour, especially since I had the privilege of following the former President of the European Union Josep Borrell’s excellent lecture earlier in the day on El Brexit y sus consequencias en la goberabilidad de la Unión Europea.

lectureThis was an opportunity for me to explore the relevance to the European context of some of my ideas about ICTs and inequality gleaned from research and practice in Africa and Asia.  In essence, my argument was that we need to balance the economic growth agenda with much greater focus on using ICTs to reduce inequalities if we are truly to use ICTs to support greater European integration.  To do this, I concluded by suggesting  that we need to concentrate on seven key actions:

  • working with the poor rather than for the poor
  • pro-poor technological innovation – not the “next billion” but the “first” billion
  • governments have a  key role to play through the use of regulation as facilitation in the interests of the poor and marginalised
  • crafting of appropriate multi-sector partnerships
  • managing security and resilience against the dark side
  • enhancing learning and understanding, both within governments and by individuals
  • working with the most disadvantaged, people with disabilities, street children, and women in patriarchal societies


Filed under Europe, ICT4D, ICTs, Inequality, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Information and communication technologies: resolving inequalities?

  1. Pamela McLean

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘pro-poor technological innovation – not the “next billion” but the “first” billion’.

    I think it’s a great list.

    I wonder what thoughts you have on practical implementation, especially steps that we can take as individuals within the ICTD community.

    I’m thinking in terms of people within the ICTD community becoming more of a “practical collaborative action” community, clustering around the key actions that you mention, in order to move forward in practical ways.

    • Tim Unwin

      Thanks – I had hoped this one would get people to think. In essence, I am continuing my old argument that we need to have more research an innovation that is designed explicitly by and for poor and marginalised people. Most people are talking about ways through which we need new business models and innovation to connect the next billion – I argue that we need it for the poorest billion, those I call the “first” billion (because they are most important) but who are usually called the “bottom” (as in of the pyramid) or “last” billion! Hope that helps clarify

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