ICT’s and Sustainable Development

ICT’s are crucial for the success of sustainable development because they aid the technological advances that are necessary in a community. Without access to telephones in the 1980’s, The Missing Link report clearly shows deficits for communities that lack that technology. Without the same access to computers in urban areas, for elderly people, and low income households, the Falling Through the Net Report in 1995 showed the inequalities that the lack of ICT’s can maintain. I had never considered the importance of technology and its role in increasing development for everyone. The Digital Divide is a phenomenon that is still affecting communities all over the world. Without the proper access to broadband, cellphones or reliable service, people are continuing to be left behind.

I am particularly interested in the digital divide in remote and rural areas. Over 70% of the world’s PWD population lives in rural areas, so how do we ensure that they are receiving the access they need to ICT’s? I am still wrestling with the best way to increase inclusion for people in rural areas and especially PWD. Will service be provided most effectively through the government or the private sector? With the push for privatization and liberalization within this field, I am hesitant to believe that the private sector alone will solve the digital divide. Like we discussed in class, what incentives do private investors have to expand their services to rural and remote areas? If more money is to be made in the densely populated areas, how do we ensure access to technology for those most in need of their services?

I also think that total government monopoly would be a mistake. As we have seen in the past with large State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) in China and Korea, they often become expensive to maintain and inefficient to sustain. I think that the 2000 Falling Through the Net recommendations provide a great balance between the two sectors. With strong government regulations and tax incentives, I think that companies could be persuaded to invest in expanding their services to rural and remote areas. This would encourage the private sector to innovatively come up with cost effective ways to expand their business while also relieving the state of these large, expensive enterprises.

Whatever tactics country’s employ, it is imperative that they do so quickly and efficiently. As the world becomes more and more dependent on ICT’s for business, trade, e-commerce, banking, investments, and personal connections, marginalized groups in rural and remote areas are being further disadvantaged. If ICT’s development in these communities increased, I think the development field would see a huge increase in agency and capability for these populations. They would be able to check the global prices of their goods, engage in education, finance their own businesses and so much more without relying on others.