When I initially took this course, I really had no idea how technology would fit in the field of development. I remember the first class when Professor Ports asked if any of us knew about Information and Communication Technologies and I did not have a clue what she was talking about. I have never considered myself to be a very tech savvy person and my initial thoughts were that concepts from this class wouldn’t prove to be particularly vital. Indeed, I proven wrong. We live in an extremely fast paced world that is driven by continuous technological advancements. The scope of technology and its’ applications extends across all sectors and ultimately, without a grasp on technology, one is unlikely to succeed.
Being exposed to the many real-world applications of ICT4D throughout the course is what really sparked my enthusiasm. I was excited to see course lessons extend beyond the classroom walls and realized that the knowledge and skills gained through this course will be applicable to any career path. It was also this class that solidified my career passions in the humanitarian sector. Specifically, I was inspired by the ICT4D applications in disaster relief and humanitarian aid. I was amazed by the whole idea of crowd sourcing/HOSTOM and its’ ability to function efficiently in a situation when every second counts. In addition, the experience we had working with Geographic Information Systems gave me invaluable skills that will be extremely useful to a career in disaster management. After focusing on the humanitarian sector for my group project, I became really interested in other ICT4D applications that could bring even greater benefit! Any area of ICT4D that I feel deserves more attention is what our class recently covered in regards of cyber security. Its nearly impossible for the appropriate policies and regulations to keep up with technologies fast-pace nature. This leaves a huge gap in cyber security, such as potential for cyber threats, and I think it is crucial that this aspect of ICT4D is addressed as we move forward. We’ve seen endless examples of ICT4D applications bringing great benefit to the people and overall development , from advocating for human rights, ending corruption, to e-medicine, and I’m excited for what the future of ICT4D holds.
The following is a link to Pakistan’s national IT Policy written originally in August 2000 put forth by the IT & Telecommunications Division Ministry of Science & Technology Government of Pakistan. It’s last revision took place in June 2012. http://www.pakboi.gov.pk/pdf/National_IT_Policy.pdf
The following link is is titled “A Qualitative Inquiry of ICT based Socio-Economic Development in Developing Countries: The Case of Pakistan, written by B. Naveed in 2009. He anaylzes the Pakistan’s IT policy including areas of noted development and areas still lacking in terms of ICT. I found his anaylsis very helping in understanding Pakistan through an ICT4D lens. http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/Baqir_uncg_0154D_10238.pdf
The following has several links to various webistes with data reports, ICT reports, broadband usage, among several other resources with information on Pakistan as a nation and ICT for development.http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia/pk.htm Internet usage, broadband and telecommunications reports
The Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) is a space for collaborative monitoring of implementation of international (and national) commitments made by governments towards the creation of an inclusive information society, with an integrated World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action agenda. The GISWatch Reports are a series of yearly reports covering the state of the information society from the perspectives of civil society, such as including ICTS and environmental sustainability; Access to Online Information and Knowledge; Acess to Infrastrure; Internet rights and Democratization; Internet and Corrpuption. There is interesting and relevant information on Pakistan in most of these reports.
As we’ve become aware of the many benefits brought by the information age and ICTs its pertinent to incorporate issues regarding gender in ICT policy. Thus, by integrating gender issues into ICT policy better ensures that women will have access to such benefits. As mentioned in class women often have the typical domestic responsibilities such as caring for children and the elderly among various other tasks depending on the individual situation and their respective culture. These domestic duties are particularly predominant in the developing world further separating women from access to ICTs. With less leisure time and little extra funds to spend outside the family needs reaching ICTs can hold infinite barriers for women in the underdeveloped and rural regions. Not to mention the majority of the worlds illiterate population is in fact female further depriving them from the benefits of ICTs.
I found an article online that was particularly interesting to me which addressed gender issues and efforts to incorporate them into ICT policy by proceeding on at least two fronts: (1) “sensitizing policy makers to gender issues, and (2) sensitizing gender advocates to information technology issues.”
I thought this was an interesting approach to addressing gender equality in ICT policy. The article provides insight to potential obstacles in the first front, such as the likelihood of policy makers in regions characteristic of great gender inequality being resistant to engendering the policy process. Furthermore, this is where gender advocates may be capable of producing greater results in engendering ICT policy. They put forth that since gender sensitive advocates, women organizations, and civil societies can be influential in the policy process, if they educate themselves on technologies and the importance of engendering ICT usages this could greatly contribute to the closing of the inequality gap. Obviously, addressing gender issues is not black and white and actually rather complex as is addressing most social issues, but I felt this was a unique and insightful approach to keep in mind in women empowerment in the ICT realm.
Many ICT4D initiatives have yet to scale or prove to be sustainable post implementation. Chapter five of Unwin’s textbook emphasizes that in order for ICT4D initiatives to actually have a chance at producing a lasting benefit, it is essential to lay a solid foundation of effective national ICT policies and strategies. He highlights the need for these policies and strategies in that the market alone will not allow ICTs to reach the poor and confidence must be given to the private sector to ensure their investments are safe and will produce a profit.
However, after all our class discussions covering indices and their importance in terms of measuring ICTs for development, I thought it was particularly interesting when he points out how indices can potentially hurt ICT4D initiatives. He explains that excessive attention to the indices may lead governments to dump large sums of money into programs solely attempting to feature their country higher up in the indices rankings/ratings which can ultimately divert attention from implementation of initiatives at the ground level. Moreover, governments become more considered with the numbers placed on their status rather than focusing on funding efficacious ICT4D practices.
indices measuring ICTs