Communication for development Knowledge

Posted September 1996

The Internet and Rural Development: Recommendations for Strategy and Activity

Chapter 4. Conclusions

Introduction | Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Preface/Acknowledgements | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Project suggestions | Bibliography/Resources | WWW sites | Glossary

"The information revolution offers Africa a dramatic opportunity to leapfrog into the future, breaking out of decades of stagnation or decline. Africa must seize this opportunity, quickly. If African countries cannot make advantage of the information revolution and surf this great wave of technological change, they may be crushed by it. In that case, they are likely to be even more marginalized and economically stagnant in the future than they are today."
- World Bank, 1996 "Increasing Internet Connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa"

Early Internet users in developing countries have proven that they can develop excellent local services and locally appropriate knowledge resources. However, without support from development agencies, there is a risk that such efforts will never meet the needs of people in rural and communities.

Given FAO's mandate to help improve the lives of rural populations, and foster sustainable agricultural development, FAO has an important and historic role to play in insuring that the benefits of Internet and information and communication technologies reach rural and agricultural stakeholders Several development agencies are currently assisting with the expansion of indigenously managed Internet services in developing countries. Among them, FAO has pioneered a "communication for development" approach for catalyzing Internet services, an approach that begins with the needs of people in rural and agricultural communities. FAO pilot projects, linked to indigenous rural and agriculture organizations can help ensure that rural communities remain part of regional and national Internet initiatives.

Adopting a proactive strategy, and acting to bring the Internet to rural and agricultural communities in developing countries will help enable rural people to face the unprecedented challenges brought on by the changing global economy, political changes, environmental degradation and demographic pressures. To deal with these challenges, and to make critical decisions, people at all levels of society, and especially the food insecure and the organizations that serve and represent them, must be able to access critical information and communicate. Improved communication and information access are directly related to social and economic development (World Bank, 1995).

The time to act to support Internet knowledge and communication systems in developing countries is now. Today we truly live in a global village, but it is a village with elite "information haves" and many "information have-nots." With the new technologies available to us we have an opportunity to change this.

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