Information communication technologies, poverty and empowerment

Information communication technologies, poverty and empowerment

The rush to connectivity should not be done at the expense of basic development goals

Increasingly, questions concerning who will benefit and who will be left out of the ICTrevolution are coming to the fore in policy debates. Concerns over areas of the developing world being left out of globalisation or being slow to develop ICT infrastructure centre on the potential negative impacts upon economies, economic decision makingand the networking, advocacy and empowerment potential that ICTs can bring to civil society groups.

The article recognises that:

  • the right to information and freedom of expression should be encouraged at all levels
  • deregulation of the communications and media environment can help free and fair information to flow more effectively to civil society
  • support to enhancing such flows and targeted interventions that support themost vulnerable and marginalised groups within society should be given priority
  • the free flow of information can act as a powerful force for empowerment
  • combinations of electronic and non electronic networks can assist NGOs, CSOs and CBOs to more effectively get their voices heard and share knowledge and experience

Suggested recommendations include:

  • bottom up and horizontal forms of communication need to be encouraged so as to enhance the networking of groups concerned with poverty reduction and to give a voice to thepoor
  • new and old ICTs need to be strategically linked to ensure the benefits of the global information age flow to the poor
  • new methodological tools need to be developed to allow us to better identify the information needs of the poor
  • pro-poor content that cuts across a range of ICTs needs to be developed
  • the rush towards connectivity should not be at the expense of basic development goals

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