In Richard Heeks’ article: ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track? (http://tinyurl.com/b4nswgp) he shines a critical light on how relevant, or rather not relevant, the Millennium Development Goals are in the application of ICTs, and vis-versa. In this piece, Heeks uses colorful metaphors and analogies to incite a re-evaluation of ICT development agendas, specifically speculating on how they are currently being “pressed through the MGD filter,” and how this is causing a misprioritization of the domains in which ICTs should be implemented.
In his discussion, Heeks brings up a very interesting point about how many developing countries are denied “the very paths to development that the industrialized countries used.” For example, the urging of developing countries to rely on the market rather than the state is in direct conflict with how central of a role the government played in the development of these very industrialized nations. This brings me to my next point, which is that Heeks may be correct in his exhortation of taking alternative, non-MGD type strides when investing in and implementing ICTs for development. Evidence of how this divergence is capable of yielding progress can be found in our text. Unwin provides readers with a tangible example of how a contradictory approach to ICT4D, namely charging the head of state and government with the task of driving strategies forward, rather than private-sector market forces, can be very successful. The example he discusses is that of Latin America, the region I am focusing on in this class. Untwin explains how effective ICT strategies and policies in Latin American can be distinguished by certain features of them such as their “embracing of the entire government of a country…importance of a single overarching national authority..[and] the head of state playing a prominent role in driving them forward.” These qualities, which challenge the values of the MGDs, have proven to be responsible for the success of said strategies in Latin America. Had Heeks read the report cited by Untwin that describes the positive evolution of ICT strategies in the region, I think he’d say “I told you so!”