RESPONSES - ISSUE 180: AFRICA’S DIGITAL DIVIDE - TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
The analysis on the problems of "Bridging the Digital Gap" is quite interesting. It raises some fundamental questions:
1. Where are the success stories in the developing world?
2. If India, Brazil and Costa Rica represent some of the best success stories in Digital inclusion, why are the new models based on a different paradigm?
3. Why are African Digital inclusion efforts dominated by non IT professionals?
4. Why has it being re-christened ICT4D?
I have participated in one or two of the initiatives discussed in your anlaysis and the above remain recurring questions.
Application Systems Development & Enhancement Div.
The African Development Bank,
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
I thought your piece on the state of ICT in development excellent and a much needed wake up call to what’s really happening.
I’ve witnessed an ict boom and bust before in Africa... In 1984 in Sudan I was assigned to set up an EWS (Early Warning System) to use IT to predict future humanitarian disasters like the ethiopian famine... They were very much the fashion at the time - Ethiopia had a huge one and so did a few other countries like Malawi. It soaked up a lot of money but, like you say, it fell off the agenda and when there was no political will and interest to make things happen, it became ineffective. But that didn’t stop the sector that had developed around EWS... it just changed it’s name (and goals) to VAM (Vulnerability Assessment Mapping) and continues to take large parts of development budgets. How much it actually contributes to the plight of the ordinary African is highly questionable - and that seems to be easily forgotten
I see the same thing happening now... When I left Ethiopia in 1999 there were already great departments dedicated to ict in development in some UN agencies which means the sector will exist in perpetuity - there’s no such concept as shutting down departments - they live forever but just change their names
Bravo on the reality check!!! This will end up being the "most read" digital divide piece of the year.
Don Richardson, PhD.
TeleCommons Development Group