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IMPACT OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) FOR AS A TOOL FOR SOCIETAL DEVELOPMENT
1.1 Background of the Study
ICT is defined as a broad subject concerned with technology and other aspects of managing and processing information and that it deals with the use of electronic computers and computer software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit, and retrieve information. The term Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) was coined to reflect the seamless convergence of digital processing and telecommunications.
Information and communication technologies for societal development (ICT4SD) refers to the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) toward social, economic, and political development, with a particular emphasis on helping poor and marginalized people and communities. It aims to help in international development by bridging the digital divide and providing equitable access to technologies. ICT4SD is grounded in the notions of "development", "growth", "progress" and "globalization" and is often interpreted as the use of technology to deliver a greater good.
ICT4D grew out of the attempts to use emerging computing technologies to improve conditions in the developing countries. It formalized through a series of reports, conferences, and funding initiatives that acted as key policy-making avenues. The 1998 World Development Report from the World Bank, highlighting the role of knowledge and ICTs in development; a report from the G8 Digital Opportunities Task Force, concluding that ICTs play a key role in modern human development. At least three phases can be identified in ICT4SD evolution:
ICT4SD 0.0: mid-1950s to late-1990s. The focus of this earliest phase was on the use of IT (not ICT) in government and private sector organisations in developing countries. One of the earliest computers used in a developing country was a Hollerith Electronic Computer(HEC)machine installed in 1956 to undertake numerical calculations in the Indian Institute of Statistics in Kolkata.
ICT4SD 1.0: late-1990s to late-2000s. The advent of the Millennium Development Goals combined with the rise and spread of the Internet in industrialised countries led to a rapid increase in investments in ICT infrastructure and projects in developing countries. The most typical application was the telecentre, used to bring information on development issues such as health, education, and agricultural extension, into poor communities. Later, telecentres were also used to deliver government services.
ICT4SD 2.0: late-2000s onwards. There is no clear boundary between phases 1.0 and 2.0. The focus in the phase 2.0 increasingly shifts toward technologies in use, such as the mobile phone and SMS technologies. There is less concern with e-readiness and more interest in the impact of ICTs on development. Additionally, there is more focus on the poor as producers and innovators with ICTs (as opposed to being consumers of ICT-based information). ICT4SD 2.0 is about reframing the poor. Where ICT4SD 1.0 marginalised them, allowing a supply-driven focus, ICT4SD 2.0 centralises them, creating a demand-driven focus. Where ICT4SD 1.0 – fortified by the "bottom of the pyramid" concept – characterised them largely as passive consumers, ICT4SD 2.0 sees the poor as active producers and active innovators.
As information and communication technologies evolve, so does ICT4SD, more recently it has been suggested that big data can be used as an important ICT tool for development and that it represents a natural evolution of the ICT4SD paradigm.
According to Carlota Perez(2002): "this quantum jump in productivity can be seen as a technological revolution, which is made possible by the appearance in the general cost structure of a particular input that we could call the 'key factor', fulfilling the following conditions:
(i) Clearly perceived low-and descending-relative cost;
(ii) Unlimited supply for all practical purposes;
(iii) Potential all-pervasiveness;
(iv) A capacity to reduce the costs of capital, labour and products as well as to change them qualitatively". Information and Communication Technology is expected to fulfil these requirements and bring societal development and political transformation which result in a modern and developed society. This type of society is often referred to as the post-industrial society, the fifth Kondratiev, Information society, digital age and network society.
The major goal of ICT for Development is to utilise the benefits of technology for social transformation for good. Previously when such social transformations took place (e.g. industrial revolution), the result was derived from a combined effect of a powerful technology and effective policy and strategy. In line with the Schumpeterian school of thought, the first enabling factor for the associated societal development transformations is the existence of technological infrastructure: hardware infrastructure and generic software services. Additionally, capacity and knowledge are the human requirements to make use of these technologies. When part of the information flows and communication processes in these sectors are carried out in e-lectronic networks, the prefix "e-" is often added to the sector's name, resulting in e-government, e-business and e-commerce, e-health, and e-learning, etc. This process of information represent the basic requirements and building blocks, but they are not sufficient for development. The mere existence of technology is not enough to achieve positive outcomes (no technological determinism). ICT4SD strategies and policies focus on accelerating development works, minimizing drawbacks and removing bottlenecks with the use of technology to meet goals. Generally, interventions are of two kinds: Positive Assessment (e.g. incentives, projects, financing etc.) that make existing opportunities more prominent and Negative Assessment (e.g. regulation and legislation, etc.) that controls and suppress negative developments.
1.2 Statement of Problem
As it has grown in popularity, especially in the international development sector, ICT4SD has also come under criticism.
Questions have been raised about whether projects that have been implemented at enormous cost are actually designed to be scalable, or whether these projects make enough of an impact to produce noticeable change.
Further criticism of ICT4SD concerns the impact of ICTs on traditional cultures and the so-called cultural imperialism which might be spread with ICTs. It is emphasised that local language content and software seem to be good ways to help soften the impact of ICTs in developing areas. Many fear of the potential of ICT to seriously widen the Digital Divide and the gap between people with access to the information economy and those without such access.
Another point of criticism against ICT4SD is that its projects are in the long term seldom environmentally friendly. Beneficiary communities are often given the responsibility to dispose of the toxic electronic scrap when an equipment breaks down beyond repair. Since transporting the equipment to a recycling facility is costly; the equipment is often disposed of improperly, thus contributing to the pollution of the environment. Other challenges and issues of using ICT for societal development Includes :
More often than not, ICT programs are expected to be the solution for all socioeconomic problems. However, disorganised implementation that disregard factors such as cultural realities make ICT for development efforts ineffective.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are as follows :
To examine the benefits of technology for social transformation .
To explore the impact of ICT adoption in the agricultural sector.
To examine how ICT can bring about development in the Educational sector.
To find out if ICT can be a supportive tool to develop and improve the health sector.
1.4 Significance of the study
The aim of this study is to ascertain whether or not ICT has any notable influence on developing society. This study will focus on how Economic Development Growth, Jobs and Digital Economy, Intensifying economic activity and extensive application of ICT can be used to extend the range of economic activity. And how social infusion and environmental sustainability can be achieved with the use of ICT