Tag Archives: ICTs

China ICT4D Resources

China is not a country that has explicitly laid out its plans for information and communications technologies development, but they have published a few documents that outline some of the ways they plan to improve these areas of development. The closest document they have to a ICT4D policy is called, “China’s Informatization Strategy and its Impact on Trade in ICT Goods and ICT services”, was published by the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and General Office of the State Council of China in 2006. China’s 5 year plans published by the National People’s Congress, most recently published in 2010, also contain some information related to ICTs.

Government Publications:

China’s Informatization Strategy

China’s 12th 5-Year Plan can be found by searching for it, but is only available in downloadable .pdf files

Other Agency and Organization Publications:

Rural Informatization in China can be downloaded from the World Bank. This is a working paper, so new versions are published when major changes need to be made.

IDC’s Top 10 Predictions for China’s ICT Market in 2014 and Beyond is a press release from a data analysis company highlights some of the more important indicators and what they might mean for the future.


Remember that the Chinese government is not keen on publishing documents that are clear in their intentions or expectations. So, market trends, data indicators, and other sources of information are the best way to understand China’s relationship with ICT4D’s.

International Girls in ICTs Day: April 24th

Started in 2010 by the International Technological Union (ITU), the International Girls in ICTs Day is centered around the idea of celebrating and promoting female involvement in the international technology sector. While ITU itself does not put on any events for the day, it encourages all ICT related organizations and stakeholders to be involved, stating on their website, “these are events where girls and university students are invited to spend the day at the office of ICT companies and government agencies so they better understand the opportunities the ICT sector holds for their future.” The website also provides various resources and promotional materials for general International Girls in ICTs Day events and profiles of female role models in the technology industry from around the world. Additionally, they provide archives of current and past events for the day to encourage groups around the world to become involved in the cause. 

One event put on last year in Swaziland brought two communications companies in the nation together with 160 high school girls from around Swaziland in the first annual Girls in ICT Communications Installations Tour. The groups visited national and regional communications stations and viewed presentations from sector female and male professionals among other things. 

While the gender gap in the ICT sector around the world is far from solved, events and celebratory days like this are crucial to encouraging and promoting the involvement of women and girls in ICTs. The growth of events like these and the idea that girls and women can and should have equal roles as men in the technology industries play a large role in the path towards gender equality, access, and education.

The New Airpower: More than Warfare

When thinking about disaster relief and humanitarian aid, we often see NGOs as the major players. In addition, we often see governments and militaries as the bad guys in the field of development work. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the military is no longer confined to linear warfare. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, militaries dealt increasingly with natural disasters, humanitarian relief operations, resource conflicts, terrorism, small-scale conventional conflicts, and insurgencies. Some of the most prominent forces in disaster relief are militaries.

According to an article from the International Relations and Security Network in Zurich, the United States Air Force (USAF) recently modified its definition of airpower. In the past, airpower was limited to war-faring aircrafts and pioneering spacecraft. The definition of airpower now includes cyber power. It is important to note that USAF does not see cyber power as a channel for carrying out operations but rather an enabler that facilitates improved operations.

This new take on military operations just goes to show the increasing importance of ICTs. If the military is becoming increasingly involved in disaster relief and humanitarian aid, while it’s broadening its definition of airpower to include cyber technology, it sets the stage for utilizing ICTs in disasters. ICTs are not only useful in their own respects (early warning systems, government alerts on iPhones, locating missing persons, mapping, etc.), but they can be used to improve existing operations. ICTs could help the military, and NGOS as well, manage their soldiers/volunteers, track distribution of aid materials, improve efficiency of aid delivery, and the list goes on. If you needed a reason before to consider ICTs a crucial part of humanitarian work, take a look at the United States Air Force who is restructuring itself to include natural disasters as a part of its duties and ICTs a part of its anatomy.

Pakistan’s ICT Industry: Is it progressing?

Over the past decade, Pakistan’s ICT sector has experienced a “prolific boom” as an increase in ICT infrastructure and affordability has led to better accessibility. Currently Pakistan’s technology export rate (which includes aerospace, computers, pharmaceuticals and scientific instrument products) has increased from 1% in 2007 to 1.8%, where it has remained relatively constant for the past three years. In comparison, the United States’ technology export rate is 18.1% of its manufactured exports. Additionally, Pakistan’s ICT expenditure accounts for 4.4% of its total GDP.

While ICT production does not seem to be as high as other more developed nations, Pakistan is making an effort to increase its production in order to use ICT at an enabler for development in other sectors, such as health, education, etc. Additionally, Pakistan is looking to decrease its urban/rural digital divide by investing 700 million dollars towards infrastructure and networking. In order to accomplish this Pakistan will need to upgrade their local software and applications, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for the Pakistanis, which will positively impact Pakistan’s economy. Additionally, companies such as Telecommunication Company Limited, which is investing in one of the largest international submarine cables to help Pakistan meet future telecommunication needs, are increasing investments in order to create better quality and faster ICT products.  

It is clear from Pakistan’s 2012 IT Policy draft that an increase in ICT production would positively affect the education, health, agriculture and empowerment sectors, which would in turn have a positive impact on the economy. Creating jobs, decreasing child and maternal mortality, increasing agriculture productivity and increasing knowledge and training will not only help Pakistan’s social environment, but also increase their GDP, their exports and increase foreign direct investment. It seems that ICT production may be the key to Pakistan’s transformation from an underdeveloped country to a global competitor.

What about Uganda?

The web, radio, and television have been flooded recently with the news about Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill, sentencing homosexuals, or people who commit homosexual acts to anywhere between 5 years and life in prison. Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The specifics of the bill can be seen here to the left, and, as you can imagine, it has been causing international uproar. Today on the web I saw an article with a graphic photo of a supposedly homosexual man being burned alive in front of a group of people which included many children.  That image made me want to write about whats going on in Uganda for my blog this week, and how whats happening there is associated with ICTs.

First of all, its amazing how fast news flies these days; uproar began even before the bill was signed, as early as 2009 when it was first being introduced. Since then foreign diplomats have been pressuring the Ugandan government to not sign the bill but, as we all know, it was to no avail. The World Bank now has said that it will delay a huge loan it had promised the nation because of this bill. Now some of the biggest worries for Ugandans and the international community alike are about the safety of people who may be at risk. Jail is not even the type of risk that is most concerning, but the fact that gays are being beaten, killed, and denied services such as healthcare in their own countries. So what does this all have to do with ICTs? First of all, without the Internet the international community would have much less influence over the happenings in other parts of the world. Amnesty International immediately set up a protest petition, gaining over 200,000 signatures within a few days. The hashtag #uganda has surged suddenly, leading to thousands of tweets about whats going on in that country an opinions on the bill.  Mobile phone users have captured incredible and horrifying images of protests and human rights abuses and are putting them on the web for the whole world to see. ICTs have given us the power to do this, to effect change thousands of miles away, to support protesters, or to watch entire nations collapse.

So what can ICTs do now? Can ICTs be useful in times like this? In places like Uganda? ICTs showed us whats going on, and sparked the discussion on how to change it- but can ICTs really do anything on the ground in real time to help the people whose lives are at risk?  I think so. I wonder if we will see any apps spring up that could help, because there’s an app for everything, as the saying goes. Maybe an app that will locate clinics that will treat open homosexuals? Though to access the app you would have to know a secret password or something so that the possibly life-saving information stays with the people that need it rather than in the hands of the wrong people. So maybe that wouldn’t work too well, but there has to something- what do you think?  How could ICTs be used in this situation?  I’m not sure, I’ll keep brainstorming, but lets get the conversation started.

ICT in Iran

In Iran ICT exports account for 4.5% of manufacturing GDP. In terms of total GDP telecommunications account for 1.1-1.3% of Iran’s total GDP in 2002. Since the early 2000s this percentage has most likely grown as Iran begins to attempt to become technologically independent from other nations. Iran wants to become a larger exported of media and technology to help with their other geopolitical goals.

Iran has an extremely young population with the majority of their population under 30. This group has turned more and more to the Internet and technological careers and demand for computers and software is expected to skyrocket in the next few years. For security concerns that government has been hesitant to allow unregulated importation of software and in response a domestic industry has flourished. Out of necessity Iranian programmers and developers often work to create Iranian versions of useful apps and programs to circumvent governmental restrictions.

In the next few years the technology sector in Iran is predicted to rapidly expand and become a more important economic force.

One Unprotected? Laptop Per Child

As if we didn’t cover them enough in class, the One Laptop Per Child program has some major flaws. However, one glaring flaw of the program is its complete non-mention of safety guards for children on the internet. This article specifically sites that one of the OLPC leaders admitted that safety had been overlooked. Let that sink in. When creating a program to help children in developing countries what was overlooked?  Durability? No. Language Barriers? Of course not. Safety?…Oops.


Kids enrolled in the OLPC program and given the only semi user-friendly laptop are given the internet access with not only no previous exposure to the internet/internet culture, but no background in internet safety. In schools all across the U.S.A. children are taught in middle school about the dangers of chatrooms, giving out your personal information and meeting strangers online. When children in the OLPC program encounter these threats without previous knowledge of not only how to deal with them but the fact that a 40 year old man saying he wants to be “special friends” is in fact a threat!! This is not to say that “stranger danger” is a uniquely western concept, but the idea of internet safety should not be. Introducing internet services without safety training is introducing a new realm of threats for the children using these laptops and leaving them woefully unprepared.


Unfortunately, the OLPC leader did not say anything with regards to fixing the blatant incorporation of child safety in the program.


ICT’s and the MDG’s: Interconnected or Not?

In ‘An Overview on the Impact of ICT’s on Socio-Economic Development, Millennium Development Goals, and Society,’ Sam Kundishora gives his perspectives on how ICT’s can help facilitate holistic development. Kundishora, the Secretary of ICT’s for Zimbabwe, cites connectedness as the main asset of ICT’s in approaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Kundishora begins by providing ICT statistics for developing countries over an extended period of time. Notable data provided were that 91% of urban-dwelling Sub-Saharan Africans now live within range of mobile networks, and that access to netcoms and telecoms in Africa have increased exponentially since the early 2000’s. When employing a sheerly number-based analysis, it is difficult to contextualize these changes and the impact which they have on both domestic and regional development. However, the increased transparency facilitated by ICT’s impacts virtually every aspect of development, through the dispersion of knowledge across social, political, and economic lines. Kundishora proceeds by placing ICT’s within the context of every Millennium Development Goal. For example, ICT’s contribute to hunger and poverty alleviation by increasing firm productivity and creating new sectors for employment. Consequently, the increased incomes generated in a digitized society allow for investment in other areas of development, such as health care and education. Personally, I believe that the impact of ICT’s on economic activity is the necessary catalyst for holistic development. However, as displayed in the Human Development Index (HDI), education, economic activity, and health care are all interconnected, so an improvement in one of these fields has vast potential for holistic change.

Children using recycled cellular phones in Zimbabwe.

I believe that Kundishora provides a convincing argument for ICT’s as a means of accomplishing, or at least approaching, the Millennium Development Goals. Richard Heeks is justified in identifying the Western-centric and imposing aspects of the Millennium Development Goals in his article ‘ICTs and MDGs: On the Wrong Track?‘ I can agree that, from the perspective of developing nations, the MDGs propose benchmarks and methodology never before required of countries in development. However, the developing world must be integrated into the global digital framework in order to situate themselves in a modern context. This digitization would grant these countries a voice, as well as initiate unprecedented firm productivity and overall transparency.

I’m with Kundishora: ICTs are vital in accomplishing each Millennium Development Goal. Modern technologies are versatile enough to be situated within the cultural context of their respective users, and the connectedness resulting from their usage only further encourages interaction between the ‘have’s and ‘have not’s of our world.

Reflecting on ICT4D

To start, ICT4D has the potential to have great outcomes. It can help reduce poverty, empower women and other marginalized groups, create more transparency in business and governance, improve health care systems, create a more sustainable future relating to the environment, and improve the risk in disasters and emergencies. There is no doubt that technology can help in these areas when applied correctly. Therefore, I think the first greatest lesson is to better monitor and evaluate existing ICT4D programs. There are several different frameworks that exist and ideas that different organizations use when creating their plans or programs, and tons of different ICT4D projects and initiatives. The problem is that there has been little monitoring and evaluation after those programs have been implemented. Without looking at the true successes and failures of these existing projects, we can’t know what’s the best way to use technology in a sustainable way in the developing world.

I was particularly intrigued by “Oscar Night Syndrome” – the idea that in the development field, there is always a need to look good and highlight the successful parts of the given project. No organization wants to publish bad results, so there is much less emphasis on the negative aspects of a given project. Therefore, it’s extremely important to analyze ICT4D failures. As discussed in class, the website FAILFARE reports on the failures of ICT4D projects, and looks at why certain things don’t work in development. The hope is to then have a better understanding and more information to create better and more sustainable development projects in the future. I think it’s crucial for sites or organizations like FAILFARE to expand and continue to publish information on ICT4D failures.

I also think the idea of “local knowledge” is essential in ICT4D. There is no “one-size fits all” approach. As we’ve seen in class, every city, region, country, and continent has a different set  of rules and frameworks that must be abided by. Some areas may have low literacy rates rates, others may have a government unwilling to adapt to new technologies, and others may have next to no electricity. These are all very different problems that inhibit the use of ICTs. Therefore, while many projects are able to abide by a theoretical framework, no two projects can be exactly the same. This is where local knowledge comes in. All of the theoretical frameworks and successful projects we have looked at have touched upon the importance of local knowledge in their projects – local knowledge of the government and laws, of the viability of various technologies, an understanding of culture etc. Without expanding upon knowledge, development projects will not be able to use their full potential in achieving their best results. I think the Human Centered Design framework we learned about in class most closely adheres to this idea, and is the most useful framework moving forward with development projects. It allows for local knowledge, a true understanding of the population and what technologies they need, want, and can use, and allows for a unique project according to those ideas.

Naturally, taking this course has really opened my eyes to the importance of technology, both in the developed and the developing world. The topics we discussed at the end of the course – like the use of social media – were of particular interest to me. I’ve always been a pretty avid Twitter user / Instagram-er etc. but it was especially interesting to see what I saw as “social” or “fun” technologies being used for more important purposes. As we read and discussed, Twitter was vital to the Arab Spring, and helped spread ideas about democracy and human rights across the globe. Monitoring social media after the Boston Massacre and various school shootings  was also of great interest to me – and I learned a lot about the benefits and pitfalls of social media. Similarly, Ralph Russo’s guest lecture on cyber-security was of particular interest to me, and is obviously a very important topic to study given the current threat of cyber-security. As a political science major (in addition to international development), I think it’s really important to understand the importance of technology and social media in the world, and the role of governance in these phenomenons. Technological innovation is clearly of growing prominence and is changing our daily and social lives, as well as our political lives, so I’m grateful to have had the exposure to the topics discussed in our class for that reason. I am now much more comfortable with Twitter and WordPress, and understand more so the full potential of Twitter, other social media sites, and more generally to blogs. I think moving forward this comfort and knowledge of technology will greatly benefit my skill-set and make me more marketable to future employers.

ICT4D: Lessons Learned

I didn’t know what to expect when I first began ICT4D – it seemed like an odd technology class that somehow had something to do with development. However, I think many of the things we have been learning in all of our International Development courses were very visibly demonstrated in this class. For example, the practical needs and challenges of projects such as Humanitarian Open Street Mapping – it’s a perfect demonstration of “off-the-ground work” that is difficult to do, but actually useful and necessary at times. Also, it was good to hear that ICTs can be used in all sectors – environment and business, included. It may sound intuitive, but sometimes we don’t make the connection immediately.

I also learned that being aware of the growing power individuals have nowadays thanks to technological progress is crucial to coming up with new development methods that are relevant and efficient. If I were to enter the IDEV field, I would keep this in mind because it would help me not just let some community “catch up,” but maybe even become progressive.

Additionally, the Human-Centered Design framework has been a good model to think about when considering development projects. You have to involve the community to create an effective development plan, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have any input yourself. It’s a collaborative effort.