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.