Technology Issues: Perspectives from the Not-4-Profit Sector

Presentation by

Muroro Dziruni
Bsc(H) Eng, MBA, E-Management Email: ConnectAfrica 13 February 2007

Presentation outcomes
• At the end of this presentation you will relate to ICTs in a simpler way. • You will solve the question of ICTs being labeled an unnecessary distraction to development. • You will relate to the digital divide through the 5 A’s model… • And understand ICTs from the 5 C’s concept! • You will not forget the 6 technologies that make ICT4D happen.

ICT4D – The trade off
• The trade-off between “bread vs. computers” has been debated extensively and consensus is now that ICTs complement rather than compete with development. • Should the poor already deprived of food, health services, access to markets be further deprived of ICTs • Clearly ICTs cannot replace other development activities but has potential to make development more efficient and sustainable. • They are a means to an end..empowerment, opportunity..and not an end in themselves. Neither are they just an add-on but can be successfully embedded within the development context.

What is the ICT4D conundrum
• “The gift of material goods makes people dependent. The gift of knowledge makes them free” E.F Schumacher • Access – Information – knowledge – leads to Empowerment/opportunity • This means ICT infrastructure should be a utility and is as essential for the development of society as transport, power, water and sanitation. • Though this may be accepted the policies and regulation controlling access to the available resources are not always designed accordingly • Due to importance of ICTs to socio-economic development policy makers need to legislate and regulators need to define the detailed procedures.

The Digital Divide in Development
• The case of ICTs facilitating socio-economic development is understood from the “leap frogging” model where, part of the development cycle is accelerated at pace faster than what have ordinarily happened. • At the core of this rapid progression and assimilation of ICTs is the end-point of closing the digital divide gap. • The digital divide is described as the inability of countries, communities or individuals to actively appropriate ICTs in ways that maximize opportunity. • The digital divide is an expression of already existing socioeconomic divides inherent within a country, community – income, gender, class and so on and now it is about the lack of broadband connectivity • The quintessential representation of the divide is young white urban male and old black rural woman at each end of the scale. • What issues need to be addressed to narrow this divide?

The 5 A’s approach to ICTs
• Access – represents the physical hardware and software that constitutes ICTs. Without access we cannot even begin to talk about the role of ICTs in development. It also represents ability to use content • Affordability – means ICTs should not be a main cost of ones income and must be priced to be “affordable” • Awareness – people and especially legislators must know what can be done with ICTs and be open to using them. • Availability – refers to people being able to get various options of ICT services within their proximity and that there is adequate quality of service • Appropriateness – demands that content is packaged and communicated using appropriate language and that relevant issues are addressed in the process.

6 technologies that make ICT4D happen
• Mobile phone: and its potential use in mobile4development applications. Per capita penetration growing on the continent and the technology address all the 5 A’s!. In development it enables people to access livelihood critical information and maintain social contacts that reinforce opportunity • GIS and GPS: the spatial nature of development requires technologies that can facilitate visualization of initiatives and their impact on the ground. Participatory mapping as a tool for sustainable development allows communities to define what they need and where they need it. Land use and tenure, management of natural resources, an inventorying of local infrastructure and resources are some

And the next two technologies
• Wireless Data network such as WiFi deals with the last mile riddle by providing fast and cheap data networks. WiFi uses the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and can be rendered for social cause purpose. The problem is usually the regulator prohibiting the use of this frequency band • Free and Open Source Software – Is probably one of the most empowering technology solutions that will allow developing countries to get out of the digital divide. It has freedoms, to run, copy, change and share with limitless users. Propriety technology does not provide the same and hence the above 90% piracy rates in some developing countries.

The last two technologies
• Convergence over IP based networks – are disruptive because you can push what ever payload at the same cost. The convergence of telephony, broadcasting and the Internet are reshaping the ICT4D domain with communities now able to access ICTs at a lower cost than before. But this also calls for regulatory convergence as well. • VSAT (very small aperture terminal) – is a ubiquitous data and voice medium that can deliver robust down-link and up-link capacity in even the most remote of locations. The challenge with VSAT is cost (landing rights fees) and archaic regulation. The open skies concept, technology neutrality and liberal regulatory regime addresses this issue, stimulating competition and investment flows.

Strategy going forward – 5 C’s for parliamentarians
• • • • • • The 5 C’s is a supporting interrogation model that you need to understand when dealing with any thing related to ICTs Content - is king and relevant content is queen. Encourage development of local content. Connectivity – keeps you on the super highway. Push for connectivity and secure connectivity for that matter. Communication – is the basis of ICTs. It connects people, businesses and governments Capacity – The higher the bandwidth (data rate) capacity the more you can do on the Internet. Cost – Keep a lid on unnecessary costs so that consumers benefit, competition is encouraged and new innovations are brought to the market.

Muroro Dziruni Executive Director Connect Africa

Email: *********ENDS*********

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