1. Developments for a National ICT Policy**
Autorité de régulation de la poste et des télécommunications du Congo, or ARPCT, acts as the ICT regulation authority. The official website link has been broken for a while (which speaks to the country’s level of ICT development), but the World Bank’s DR Congo Country Report offers a brief description.
Last update: June 2007
Published by infoDev
The Global Information Society Watch describes the DRC’s main ICT challenges in this country report.
Last update: 2007
Published by Global Information Society Watch
NEPAD e-Africa Programme
Last update: 2012
Published by The New Partnership for Africa’s Development
Language: English (also available in French)
2. Government website
Since the government does not officially support any ICT initiatives, it has a limited government website that seems to only be available in French.
3. Case Studies
DRC joins WACS
Organization: Alcatel-Lucent (French global telecommunications equipment company)
Project: West Africa Cable System
Time frame: N/A
4. Non-governmental resources
Author: The World Bank
Development Indicators for DRC
Author: Global Information Society Watch
DRC’s Access to Online Information & Knowledge
Finding reliable information about the DRC’s ICT status was difficult because the sector is very underdeveloped. A lot of my conclusions were drawn from this lack of information as well as ICT success theories.
**Since the DRC does not have an officially established national ICT policy, the resources listed here are from the private sector programs that have been pushing to establish effective rules and regulations for ICT usage and implementation.
After a semester of studying various ICT4D initiatives, including specific case studies and theory, it is clear that a multi-stakeholder approach must become the basis for any successful undertaking. One of the conclusions drawn from the World Summit on the Information Society that met in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005 is that an information society cannot be built without collaboration, partnerships and solidarity among all stakeholders based on values of transparency, accountability and respect. My research on the ICT status of the Democratic Republic of Congo supports this supposition. The DRC does not have an established national ICT policy even though the private sector has been working on programs that would make up the components of such a policy. The public sector (the government) has failed to support these programs (financially or otherwise) arguably because of a lack of understanding of the importance of ICTs for economic and social development. They are skeptical that investing in technology will reap any benefits. I have learned that this government opposition is a widespread issue from reading blog posts on other countries. First and foremost, all the stakeholders in an ICT implementation must be well understood. The private and public sectors, non profit organizations and the targeted population need to not only tolerate each other’s practices but also be supportive of them. Creating an atmosphere in which these programs can sustainably thrive is essential. Sustainability is inherent to successful development initiatives and this is especially true with ICTs since technology is constantly evolving. The government needs to go online and thereby become more transparent to its citizens to instate the trust and respect critical to a symbiotic partnership. The targeted population needs to be well-trained in the new technology, preferably by a fellow citizen and not a foreign development worker. On that note, effective methods for training targeted populations should be an additional topic for exploration. I would be interested to find out if there is a program or organization that recruits a few willing citizens of a particular developing nation, trains them to a professional level on a particular piece of technology, and then sends them back with the equipment to train the rest of the community.
In class we discussed the various dimensions of the digital divide. It is not only defined as the vast differences in technological development between developed and developing countries. Many of us experience the digital divide when interacting with older family members, people who speak another language, or those from different levels of education. Personally, I’ve grown up with the digital divide. My parents grew up in a small town in Poland and moved to the States in their twenties. They never used computers in Poland and once they moved here, they only bought one because my elementary school education required it. Eventually, their jobs required it too, and consequently, my responsibilities began to add up. As a junior high tween, I was the most “tech savvy” in the house. When my dad needed to type up a contract for work, I typed up and formatted a word document that would have taken him hours. I can type fast, copy and paste and use the internet quickly, so they think I’m a genius.
In my experience with my parents, language is the most difficult barrier to cross, second to intrinsic obstacles like a lack of motivation, distrust of the technology and stubbornness. The primary language of the web is English. So how can we get more of the populations of developing nations (especially those non English-speaking) to trust new technologies, to realize that it’s helpful and essential to their economy and livelihoods? The Guardian posted an article today about how more creative measures are being taken in Africa to bridge the digital gap, like the use of “digital intermediaries,” a concept that makes a lot of sense to me. These intermediaries are local people, who help their communities “overcome barriers of illiteracy, innumeracy, and language to effectively reach the poor who are otherwise invisible and disconnected.” Read the full story here: Access to information: bridging the digital divide in Africa