Virtual change
Indicators for assessing the impact of ICTs in development




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Rome, 2009


Communication for Development, as a discipline, has reached an important crossroads with the emergence of new information and communications technologies (ICTs), the Internet and mobile telephony in particular. There has been sustained growth of ICT access and use across the globe with many developing countries choosing to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure as a key pillar of their poverty reduction strategies. These technologies have transformed how we work, organise and communicate with each other. Not only are technologies converging (a mobile phone device also allows access to the internet and radio) but so too are different disciplines or 'schools of thought' bumping up against one another such as Information Technology, Knowledge Management and the newly emerging discourse of ICT for Development.

New ways of working and approaches to technology have lead communication for development specialists to re-examine the social embeddedness of these technologies and how we assess their impact. The earliest discourse on ICTs for development focused on the issue of access and capacity building (and latterly content) However, in some areas the ICT revolution served only to widen existing economic and social gaps prompting communication for development specialists and others to argue that that if the opportunities offered by ICTs are to be realized, poor people must be active determinants of the process, not just passive onlookers or consumers. Access and use of ICTs are relevant therefore to the degree that they enable people to participate in and influence society.

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