Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
... bridging the digital divide?
"Information technology, together with the ability to use it and adapt it, is the critical factor in generating and accessing wealth, power and knowledge in our time." - Manuel Castells
ICTs enable societies to produce, access, adapt and apply information in greater amounts, more rapidly and at reduced costs and offer enormous opportunities for enhancing business and economic viability.
ICTs can also contribute towards strengthening democracy, increasing social participation, competing in the global market place and removing barriers to modernisation; making poor populations fuller agents in the sustainable developmental process.
However, with the rapid introduction of these technologies in the western world, the gap between the rich and the poor nations is widening.
A 'global information' society threatens to create a new divide between the 'information rich' and 'information poor' people of the world as poorer and marginalised people in developing countries are excluded from the benefits of new communication technologies.
While poor nations grapple with the problems of investing in these technologies, recent experiments show that convergence of new and traditional communication media is still relevant to poor communities who lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and telephones.
ICTs are not just about technologies, but more about knowledge sharing and communication.
In the UK 66% of the population use the Internet, compared to 4% in Nepal. Mobile phone subscriptions in Kenya are over 30% of the population, compared to 4% in Nepal.