ICT and sustainable development

Wired magazine ran an interesting story in their April 2007 edition about an entrepreneur in the Ivory Coast who bought a cell phone, rigged up a 'telephone booth' and earned $200 the first month charging community members 80 cents per minute. The same man bought a PlayStation and charged 10-20 cents to play a game earning him $20 in the first three days!

I mention this story because with ICT in international development, there is much promise and a lot of the best solutions are indeed indigenous (Thanks John). A main role for ICT4D planners and policy makers is localizing technology to the needs of the community. This is evident from my experiences in Cambodia where outside experts were not in touch with the needs of the teachers yet some teachers simply found applicable ways to use the skills that were outside of the scope of the training.

ICT has promise in the less developed world. However experts from more developed countries have the onus to not just plop ICTs into a nations without thinking about localization and sustainability. After all, development is not about giving fish, it is about teaching others to fish for themselves!

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Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer

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