Publication Date

1999

Abstract

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential for addressing many of the informational needs of human beings. Information is knowledge and knowledge creates power. Knowledge propels and sustains human development and can promote a healthy, growing equitable economy -- an economy where the benefits and opportunities are shared equitably among women, minorities, poor, immigrants and the handicapped. Information communication technology is needed to sustain human opportunities and support human rights. ICTs will provide windows of opportunity for individuals to develop their capabilities and use them for the rest of their lives. In the view of what is the so-called "information revolution" this paper shows that information and communication technologies are powerful means of control in sustainable human development activities. ICTs are great tools for empowering human beings politically, socially, and economically. However, it is very important to note that this power will remain limited to those privileged groups and privileged countries if it is not shared. In fact this is exactly what is happening between the North and the South presently. Local NGOs and the rich people are the ICT "elite" in developing countries. In many of these countries we are experiencing the continued effects of classism and post-colonialism. Information communication technology serves primarily the demands and needs of the elite. We are in a time that ICT is the captive of dominant states, rich individuals and corporate interests. It is very obvious that there is no equality of access in using ICTs. Figures show that 84% of mobile cellular subscribers, 97% of Internet host computers and 91% of all fax machines are in developed countries (Dean 1998). It is true that there is international concern about the transfer and use of ICTs in developing countries and the increased access to knowledge that such development can offer. Information communication technologies are part of the agenda for development adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 June 1997 and are addressed as one of the familiar components of development. However, it is always necessary to remember that there are three factors which are at the root of many of the problems in development which apply equally to ICT as well as to any other development initiative in the developing world -- women, the poor, and cultural issues. In this paper, I enthusiastically and strongly agree with the proposition that ICTs are great tools for supporting and promoting sustainable development if they are used equitably and effectively. This paper presents an optimistic vision. I use a simple and free communication style to present and articulate the case for ICTs in development.

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