As the world continues its journey into the abyss of the digital age, there is an increasing need to make technology accessible around the world. Technology brings such a wide variety of benefits and risks. While it can increase productivity and global understanding, it can also lead to exploitation and risk of privacy breaches. Nevertheless, many believe that information and communication technologies or ICTs are the key to achieve sustainable global development.
ICTs encompass everything from WhatsApp to complex computer programs. ICTs are naturally inclusive because they are so adaptable, efficient, and easy to use. They can help overcome many barriers from language gaps to hearing or speaking disabilities. Additionally, the ease of connection they provide helps distribute knowledge and resources evenly and have been used in a variety of development projects.
For instance, in a global health project working to decrease maternal mortality rates by increasing skill attendance at birth in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The project used mobile phones to send alerts to expecting mothers with information about different stages of pregnancy and reminders for appointments with midwives. Furthermore, the study found a five-fold increase in skilled attendance at birth with mothers who received text messages during their pregnancy. Additionally, similar programs have been tested with HIV and tuberculosis patients. This is just one example of small ways ICTs can contribute to global development.
Furthermore, there are numerous statistics that show that ICTs increase the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. Including the following:
- ICT is highly correlated with country-level SDG performance (89%), which suggests that countries that perform well on ICT perform equally as well on SDGs
- Progress on certain SDGs is more likely to be correlated with ICT development
- Overall, developed countries tend to have higher ICT scores than SDG scores, indicating that ICT development is progressing more quickly than sustainable development.
- Although Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is a factor that influences the Benchmark scores, there are several elements that make this correlation more complex.
The connection between ICT and the SDGs is not very surprising as technological development tends to relate to development in other aspects of a society as well as GDP.
However, one key challenge that must be considered when discussing ICTs and the SDGS, is what about those who do not have access to technology. Many indigenous groups do not want access to modern technology and certain persons with disabilities can struggle with the use, how do we ensure these groups are not excluded? Even in rural areas, technology is not always reliable because of lack of proper infrastructure. This is a challenge we must consider because not will result in uneven development.