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AFRIK-IT  July 1999

AFRIK-IT July 1999

Subject:

Re: ICT Fetishist comes clean

From:

David Lush <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Mon, 19 Jul 1999 11:49:50 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (54 lines)

Greetings.

>> You might be making extensive consultion about how to implement the
>> project, but how was the need for a communication shop, and the specific
>> areas of northern Ghana, identified in the first place?
>
>Note the "private sector funding". No need to underestimate Ghanaians,
>they'll pay for the service only if they  want it, appropriate marketing or
>no.

Fine. But isn't the problem with many ICT projects that the fetishists
decide a certain technology / project is a good idea, and they then
endeavour to sell the concept to the 'market' (top down approach)?

Who, say in the case of northern Ghana, is articulating people's demand for
the communication shops (bottom up approach)? Or is it simply a case of the
people with the capital / technology identifying markets where there are
enough people willing to spend their spare cash on communicating? And can
people in rural areas afford telecoms because they are making more money as
a result of having access to communication technology. Or are they simply
spending money they already have on a new service? IN which case, can the
latter be considered 'development'?

In the case of community radio stations around the continent, it appears
that NGOs and civil society organisations can be important catalysts when
it comes to realising the potential for starting a community station. The
NGOs tend to be the ones raising awareness about this potential and thus
stimulating a demand among the people for a station. They then often
mobilise the community concerned to articulate this demand. Is the same
happening with ICTs? Who is stimulating and articulating demand for
communication technologies in marginal areas?

>Btw: how should it function where the "community" (who is that?) "says"
>(to who? how?) that "we need this, come and make it". Viable projects
>are those that are able to turn a profit. If there is no need, there is no
>market,  no private funding, and we would have to rely on organisations
>(God forbid) to make progress.

Sure, people being prepared to pay for a service is one example of a bottom
up approach. As long as those with the capital and technology realise this
is the situation (which brings us back to who is articulating / identifying
demand). But what if people want the service but can't afford it? Does that
mean they should go without it? Or should the donors / ICT fetishists be
stepping in? If 'yes' to the latter, are they doing this (ie. responding to
needs articulated bottom up)? Or are they lavishing their ICT fantasies on
unsuspecting audiences (ie. acting, pehaps, like ICT missionaries)?!!!


David Lush
Freelance Journalist
PO Box 8828, Bachbrecht, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel. +264 61 252946
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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