Greetings Afrik-ITes!

Don Richardson writes:

> This is the best academic paper I have seen on ICTs and
> development

Was there some aspect of this paper that was particularly attractive?

It's basically an overview, opinion paper, with no new data, eh?  The
main point seems to be that the poor don't have good access to ICTs.
Perhaps another point the paper makes is that information alone won't
alleviate poverty.  Do many people believe otherwise?  I wasn't aware...

One statement from the paper on access for the poor:

> The most popular model is the community ‘telecentre’

Merely the author's perception, isn't it?  Or did he measure something?
 Surely the more popular model is the human intermediary (e.g. access
by a physician to the Internet, who in turn hopefully delivers better,
i.e. more informed care to the poor).  Telecenters seem more the latest
fad among donors, perhaps with merit depending on how they are

Another quotation:

> First, failure has been downplayed. Yet estimates suggest that
> the majority of ICT-based initiatives end in total failure

The author cites himself on this one -- the basis of these "estimates"
are not contained in the paper, and I haven't read the author's other
paper -- would be interesting to review the measurement basis for
such estimates.  I was thinking about all those little ICT-based
initiatives in Ghana, where an entrepreneur provides an email and Web
browsing service to walkins, in addition to phone and fax.  Of course
they're not donor funded, so maybe they weren't counted...

> "Yet the ‘ICT fetishists’ have so far been unable to demonstrate
> how ICT-based information represents a more important resource than
> water, food, land, shelter, production technology, money, skills or
> power in the development process."

I've never met such a fetishist.  Would be fascinating to chat with one,
however.  More important than water?  My!  The author cites one
fetishist as saying:

> "Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not only a
> significant factor in the performance and growth of economies – the
> importance of which is continuously growing – but they also
> represent a novel and effective tool to help advance sustainable
> human development" (UNDP 1998b)

The UNDP hardly seems to be saying that information is more
important than water... 8*)

Jeff @ Washington


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