Why do we tend to skim over ICT?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading development reports and researching development indices. In one of my international development courses I had to read several different development reports throughout the semester. As I read over the Global Information Technology Report I was shocked that this kind of report was never even mentioned. I had to define and use over 15 different development indices throughout the semester. I wrote on economic indices, environmental indices, gender indices and several more. Yet I was never told to look into something like a Network Readiness Index. I was never required to look into how information and communication technologies directly impacted development within a given country.

After using the 2013 UN Human Development Report as a reference in countless papers, I decided to go back to it and see what it included about information and communication technology. I was surprised to find that there was no section that focused on this topic. It was simply mentioned in the context of other major topics. For example, the report states that “as countries are increasingly interconnected through trade, migration, and information and communications technologies, it is no surprise that policy decisions in one place have substantial impacts elsewhere”. ICT is mentioned in a series of causal factors, but the topic is never investigated in depth. This sub category plays an underlying role in almost every other category, from education to economics to health care, but is never discussed in isolation.

By now it is clear that information and communication technologies are a vital tool in all sectors of development. Recognizing this, I think it is important that we spend more time and energy focusing on how this technology becomes accessible throughout the developing world. I look forward to focusing on this in ICT4D throughout the coming semester. I think this topic needs to carry more weight in many other development courses, and I hope to use my new understanding of ICT in the context of all my further development research.

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About kbruce2016

Junior studying Public Health and International Development, interning at the UNHCR this summer! View all posts by kbruce2016

2 responses to “Why do we tend to skim over ICT?

  • bstanga

    I see what you mean- I’ve also taken countless development-related classes and despite the face that the importance of technology, globalization, and interconnectedness are emphasized again and again, the concept is rarely treated on its own. Technology is often a subcategory of a larger theme, such as public heath or education. Perhaps we are more prone to diagnose the use of technology on a smaller scale as opposed to a broader, regional, or country-level assessment as it is so difficult to acquire accurate, reliable ICT data. We should treat technology in developing countries as its own subfield, and seeking to truly understand what kind of technologies are best suited to a particular region.

  • dthunell

    I guess you see this problem also in how Tulane approaches IDEV. This is the first development class that I have taken here that focuses or even mentions the impact that technology has on development. I think this is related to what we were talking about in class on Thursday about how some people are wary of technology and since technology has evolved and improved so much so quickly. People are still adjusting to it and just beginning to understand that technology can be a vital tool in every development sector. So hopefully in the near future, more information & communication technology information will be included in development reports.

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