National Policy: Where is the starting line when there is no finish line?

As we learned in class this week, having a national ICT policy is critical to the development of ICT4D in a developing country as a means of promoting efficiency, especially as it relates to the progress of the millennium development goals. These policies, however, do not appear out of thin air nor does the same policy apply to every country. In this article by Michael Trucano on the World Bank blog, some crucial steps to creating a national policy are outlined specifically as it relates to education. The article lists different approaches to creating a policy that will use the best resources, finances and personnel:

  1. Assist policy-makers to create a national policy using consultation to develop exact ICT use to meet the development goals set by the country.
  2. Look at other countries policies and see what they do and try to accomplish.

** Troscano is quick to point out that a “best practice” example may not apply to all countries and that it is often better to look to their neighbor and find a development policy relevant to their context, much like Heek’s aversion to a “one size fits all approach”. ***

3. Seek the assistance of international organization such as the World Bank or UNESCO who can offer many resources in ICT policy such as the World Bank Toolkit.

An important message of the article that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is that the process of creating the policy is almost as, if not equally, important as the end result or finished product. In order to create policy, policy makers must survey the population, recognize the needs of the community, get a greater understanding of available resources, and identify key actors. These steps are crucial in a developing country and this simple process can aid in moving a country forward.

In closing, Troscano responded to a post made on the blog questioning the speed to which policy is developed by saying “technological innovations will always outpace your ability to innovate on the policy side”. This statement should not dissuade countries from developing a policy but instead encourage them. Lessons can be learned, steps can be taken forward and milestones can be reached for each new policy invites more technology, even if something new is right around the bend and the job of a policy-maker is never finished. Slow and steady wins the race and ICT policy can bring a little perspective and a lot of possibility.

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