ICT for Development
The importance of ICT for the developing world and the unexpected way emerging and developing countries or regions are sort of leapfrogging into the 4th industrial r-evolution is amazing. Everyone can witness a massive expansion in the number of IT projects in developing or transitional economies. With shortage of skills, many of those initiatives fail. At the same time, a lot of opportunities and challenges can be accounted for. If your are taking some time to build a perspective (where are we coming from?), state the actual tech opportunities and their social consequences, and project different possible future realities you might get ONE that might be approaching the future reality.
The digital era (together with the underneath technologies) is the driver of almost everything from education, health, governance, business, tourism, or any sector of the economy, IT acts as a vehicle for change.
I did follow lately at IMD a course called TransformTech. An amazing trip through methodology (Design Thinking) and few hyped technologies like AI, Blockchain or IoT amongst others. It is fun to think of a technology and try to imagine the use case that would need that tech stack rather than waiting for a business use case that would rely on the underlying tech.
And the point is that all those are available worldwide. Even if the digital divide is still a reality nowadays, the gap is probably not expending. And better, while it is clear that some countries are behind the developed world tech wise, some are however smart enough to skip some steps (Kenya in 2005 where mobile payment was achieved through mobile (and dumb) phones).
Mobile, Cloud, Social, Analytics are meaningful everywhere and those on top of connectivity. Transversal to all those is Data (a curated set please!). How and who can access the information. The identity management is definitely key in such a context. Few issues tho: privacy, compliance, etc.
For example, the tension between cloud easiness and the need for a safe digital environment is looming and well present. (Privacy and consent to use balance in areas where law enforcement and democracy are less mainstream than before).
IT as aid, how does this actually materialize? It can be connectivity anywhere anytime, it can be an app that densify the relationship with beneficiaries. It can be support to Gvt for reestablishing connectivity, or mounting an IT Solutions that answers local needs.
ICT as aid might also be the right to be forgotten, the right to be informed or connected.
A “do no harm” approach would also be key for developing countries and others. What is the rule of “cyberlaws” during tensions or even conflicts? I talked about Digital Geneva Convention earlier.
What emerges is that ICT4D needs a holistic narrative both on resilience and innovation to both ensure counter measure are deployed when need be and that the right technology is managed from the right entity.
And remember, many things are changing. Don’t forget what don’t. Managing change without managing continuity leads to chaos.