The Importance of ICTs in Development

ICTs or information and communications technology play a huge role in sustainable development. The Maitland Report and the NTIA report on Falling Through the Net both highlight the struggles found in rural and poor communities when ICTs are limited are difficult to come by. The Maitland report is officially referred to as the Missing Link. This first report on ICTs focused on the fact that developing and rural communities are often missing access to reliable communications infrastructure. Submitted in 1985, the report notes the differences between developed and developing countries when it comes to access to telephones. Limited access or even no access to telephones completely hinders development in developing countries. This problem has morphed with the creation of the Internet, which is where the Falling Through the Net report comes in to play. FTTN echoes the Maitland report in the sense that there is some key factor of development that is missing between developed and developing countries.

Technology plays an important role in development, and it is key in multiple of the SDGs. For example, ICTs are a big part of advancing SDGs 4,7,9, and 11. However, ICTs could play a role in all of the SDGs. Technology allows people to communicate all over the world, and without it, developing countries and entrepreneurs there are left out of the increased global market. Even beyond telephones, the importance of the Internet cannot be denied. It is not just in rural, developing communities either, even in places like DC, where there is a community of lower income residents, there are billboards that state the importance of having Internet so that children will have it for school. Technology affects everyone, not just adults. There needs to be a global push to provide all forms of ICTs to as many people as possible.

Another important element to providing ICTs to the developing world is the World Summit on the Information Society, which took place in two parts, Geneva and Tunis. The decision to use the two cities shows the importance of the developed and the developing world when it comes to ICTs. The developed world should serve as an example to the developing world and help them build the infrastructure needed to advance their own ICTs. WSIS+10 was the outcome document from the original conference that highlighted the actions and challenges to making ICTs more accessible and inclusive to everyone in the world. ICTs are important to global development and it is crucial that they are made accessible to everyone.