National Strategy Documents
Finding ICT resources for Morocco is relatively easy! Morocco is included in most of the comprehensive reports on ICT in developing countries that are available on blackboard. It was helpful knowing French to navigate some of the websites but not necessary. I highly recommend selecting this country… Telecommunications was Morocco’s highest sector of FDI in 2010 so there are a lot of exciting things happening!
This semester in IDEV4100 ICT4D at Tulane has been a wonderful experience. It was great to learn about applicable resources in the development field and be a part of the information dissemination process through twitter, blogging and mapping. The most valuable lesson I learned in ICT4D and something that I thing is crucial in the overall study of the field is the concept of Digital Divide. I have visited and researched the country Morocco a lot over my collegiate career and have always been amazed by the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of development, income, and resources. Through this class, I have realized that a large part of this problem could be attributed to the digital divide and lack of ICT infrastructure in those rural areas thus restricting development in other areas such as economics and health. With G8 countries being home to 15% of the world population and 50% of world Internet users, this is a crucial area of ICT4D that needs attention. This can be addressed by tackling access (technology and bandwidth), skills (personal and professional), policy (use and filtering), and motivation for individuals. By limiting barriers to access such as gender, age, geographic restraints, education and economic status, development projects could uncover a whole new potential in available populations who have access to the NECESSARY resources.
Outside of the area of the digital divide, the most important lesson I personally learned that I feel will help me in my (hopeful) career in development is that importance of using what populations already have. In previous classes when I have been tasked with creating development solutions, I have always had exorbitant budgets bring in all new people, equipment and ideas. After this class, I realize that it is beneficial to the developer and the target populations to use what people already have to ensure education/learning curve, affordability, and acceptance of the development project. Mobile phones are already are being used across the globe at an increasingly high rate and development projects should take advantage of this incredible resource already in place. It would be much more efficient to create programs that people can access via mobiles than trying to set up computers in internet cafes and get Internet connection. By the same token, the “leapfrog effect” is very important to consider here. Areas such as sub Saharan Africa have skipped many previous technological developments and are now steadily picking up the use of mobiles. This illustrates the important of knowing your target population and where they are in the ICT line of development.
This was a great semester to see development in ACTION and learn some valuable lessons that could be applied in areas outside of ICT. It seems to me that the idea still stands that some of the most important things are knowing your target population, creating accessibility for all, and working for a true knowledge society across the globe.
In class this week, we discussed cloud computing as one of the top emerging trends in Information and Communication Technology today. Broadly, Cloud Technology is using computer resources that are delivered over a network, without needing the necessary hardware or software making it a great option in developing countries. I was interested in looking at how this was specifically applied in developing countries and came across this blog describing a pilot project in Vietnam. This project was developed to help sugar cane farmers communicate with factories about deliveries and payment. Due to the sensitivity of time between the time the sugarcane is harvested and when it is received at the factory, it is crucial for farmers to communicate with the factory to discuss pick up times and amount of cane needed. Previously, farmers were attempting to call the factories and had trouble with their calls going through or not getting the information in a timely manner. Cloud computing allows the farmers to receive a response in 1-2 minutes. By beginning their texts with a keyword such as NATL, the SMS messages are routed appropriately and can be responded to with the requested information. The diagram below details the exact mechanism of the message response and delivery.
Fred Chong, the author of the blog and one of the main computers on the project identifies SMS messaging as being critical to the success of a project like this in developing areas due to the remaining spottiness of service making phone calls difficult, low costs of sending SMS, the large availability of cellular network infrastructure in rural areas, long mobile battery life as opposed to computers, and suitability for rugged, roaming lifestyles of farmers. This program has led to higher quality sugar cane and greater profits for these Vietnamese Farmers. Chong looks forward to a bright future in this work and calls it “one of the most fulfilled computing project I’ve ever done”. Check out the video in the blog for more information and to hear from the farmers themselves!
During our class lecture this week as well as in some of the readings, there was particular focus on the cybersecurity needs of individual countries and the dangers posed by others. While this is increasingly relevant in todays’ world, I think it is equally important to look at the effort of the global community against cybersecurity and the need for global partnerships between countries to team up and defend the world against individuals involved in this field. As detailed in this article published by the United Nation Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the growing “borderless exchange” and ICT penetration forces global cooperation on cybersecurity issues.
In response, the United Nations Economic and Social Council hosted a conference on “Cybersecurity and Development” with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the end of last year in New York City. The goals of the discussion included
– Addressing the current events and challenges related to cybersecurity through international policy
– Identifing global strategies and best practices to tackle cybersecurity in an international effort
– Investigating a “global response” to cybersecurity
The panel identified a few stakeholders in a global initiative such as this to be member states, the private sector, civil society organizations and law enforcement agencies around the globe. A crucial issue that was further detailed as part of this response is the disparity between developed and developing nations in their capacity to response to cyber-attacks. This was one of the main drivers behind the initiation of this meeting as it is critical to develop a partnership for cybersecurity resources with developing countries to avoid their vulnerability being used as a stage for weakness and point of entry that could affect the globe. Specifically, the group discussed the idea of developing an international treaty to collaborate on national laws pertaining to computer crimes as a possible global solution. In his concluding remarks, the ECOSOC President stated that “cybersecurity is a global issue that can only be solved through global partnership. It affects all of our organizations…and the United Nations is positioned to bring its strategic and analytic capabilities to address these issues.” and it is critical this is remembered in future response, not just on the national level.