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Good Practice Paper on ICTs for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction

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Abstract

This report aims to give an overview of what DAC members currently know about how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use in developing economies can stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction. It draws attention to the cross-cutting applications of ICTs, to their role as tools, not goals, and links their use to development co-operation. The report presents three key discussions. Chapter 2 considers the contribution of ICTs to pro-poor growth. Chapter 3 discusses the contribution of ICTs to the Millennium Development Goals, drawing attention to the processes that lead to the goals. Chapter 4 looks specifically at poverty-reduction good practice and relates what is currently known to the role of ICTs. It is hoped that this text will clarify the debate on the role of ICTs, and give a framework for extending the discussion so that ICTs may find their rightful place in development co-operation.
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 1
Good Practice Paper on ICTs for
Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction
Abstract. This report aims to give an overview of what DAC members currently know about
how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use in developing economies can
stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction. It draws attention to the cross-cutting
applications of ICTs, to their role as tools, not goals, and links their use to development
co-operation. The report presents three key discussions. Chapter 2 considers the contribution of
ICTs to pro-poor growth. Chapter 3 discusses the contribution of ICTs to the Millennium
Development Goals, drawing attention to the processes that lead to the goals. Chapter 4 looks
specifically at poverty-reduction good practice and relates what is currently known to the role of
ICTs. It is hoped that this text will clarify the debate on the role of ICTs, and give a framework
for extending the discussion so that ICTs may find their rightful place in development
co-operation.
Acknowledgements: This report was prepared by Mr. Simon Batchelor and Mr. Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd, with
inputs from Mr. David Woolnough currently with the ICD team of UK Department for International
Development (DFID). The project was initiated and co-ordinated by Mr. Ichiro Tambo, Adviser on Science and
Technology, OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate. It was funded by the Government of Japan and the
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It draws on many works published by OECD-DAC members
and thanks are extended to all contributors. In particular, Chapter 4 draws significantly on a consultation of DAC
members, the work undertaken during 2004 by Mr. Benoit D'Ansembourg, then independent ICT consultant.
Any comments or queries regarding this paper should be addressed to <dac.contact@oecd.org>.
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005
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This article will be published in The DAC Journal 2005, Volume 6, No. 3
(see www.oecd.org/dac)
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 3
Foreword
There is considerable debate about the role of Information and Communication Technologies
(ICTs) in economic growth and poverty reduction.
Should ICTs be considered only as a sector within infrastructure? A study of financing ICTs for
development1 clearly shows that ODA investment in ICT as infrastructure has declined over the last
ten years, dropping from USD 1.2 billion in 1991 to USD 194 million in 2002. The private sector has
heavily invested in ICTs as an infrastructure. How should the development community respond?
How should the development community work with ICTs for economic growth? Studies in the
growth of the developed economies suggest that ICTs do have a strong role. But the conditions in
developing countries are very different, and the link between cause and effect is still under debate.
How should the development community work with ICTs for poverty reduction? It is true that in
many circumstances the use of ICTs can produce efficiencies in the service delivery sectors, and can
improve the choice and opportunities for livelihoods. But there is a lack of clear data to inform the
development community of the opportunities for efficiency, and to enable clear choices.
This good practice paper seeks to address these broad but difficult questions. It aims to give an
overview of what DAC members currently know about how ICT use in developing economies can
stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction. It draws attention to the cross-cutting applications
of ICTs, to their role as tools, not goals, and links their use to development co-operation. It is hoped
that this text will clarify the debate on the role of ICTs, and give a framework for extending the
discussion so that ICTs may find their rightful place in development co-operation.
This report was prepared with inputs from more than 50 ICT experts and advisers within aid
agencies including UNDP and the World Bank. It went through a series of meetings and consultations.
The result of these collaborative efforts represent a fairly comprehensive overview of good practices
as observed by ICT and development practitioners throughout the world.
To help advance this, the Government of Japan and Japan International Cooperation Agency
(JICA) made a special grant to the Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD) to fund the project.
It was co-ordinated by Mr. Ichiro Tambo, Advisor on Science & Technology, Development
Co-operation Directorate, and prepared by Mr. Simon Batchelor and Mr. Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd.,
with inputs from Mr. David Woolnough currently with the ICD team of UK Department for
International Development (DFID).
Since there is little current literature dealing with this issue, we have decided to publish the report
in The DAC Journal. Beyond its initial audience in aid agencies, I hope this publication will be of
interest both to scholars and to general readers interested in development.
1 OECD (2005), Financing ICTs for Development: Efforts of DAC Members – Review of Recent Trends
of ODA and its Contribution. Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Paris. Available online at,
www.oecd.org/dac/ict.
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I thank all the DAC members who provided first-hand information on their experiences and
directly or indirectly contributed to this report.
Michael Roeskau
Director, Development Co-operation Directorate
OECD
In order to achieve its aims the OECD has set up a number of specialised committees. One of these is the
Development Assistance Committee, whose members have agreed to secure an expansion of aggregate volume
of resources made available to developing countries and to improve their effectiveness. To this end, members
periodically review together both the amount and the nature of their contributions to aid programmes, bilateral
and multilateral, and consult each other on all other relevant aspects of their development assistance policies.
The members of the Development Assistance Committee are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,
Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Commission of the
European Communities.
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 5
Table of Contents
Foreword ......................................................................................................................................1
Acronyms......................................................................................................................................7
Executive Summary.....................................................................................................................9
Chapter 1
Introduction ...............................................................................................................................11
Who should read this document...............................................................................................12
Method.....................................................................................................................................13
Chapter 2
The Contribution of ICTs to Pro-Poor Growth......................................................................15
Introduction..............................................................................................................................15
ICTs and economic growth......................................................................................................15
How do ICTs contribute to pro-poor growth (PPG) ................................................................17
Is this based on evidence, anecdote or assumption?................................................................22
Policy implications for donors – a few key recommendations ................................................22
References................................................................................................................................24
Chapter 3
The Contribution of ICTs to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)......27
Introduction..............................................................................................................................27
How do ICTs contribute to achieving MDGs? ........................................................................28
How can ICTs contribute to the planning processes – national and international...................29
How can ICTs contribute to empowerment and the PRSP process?........................................30
How can ICTs contribute to efficiencies in service delivery?..................................................31
How can ICTs contribute to the MDGs through livelihood enhancement?.............................32
Recommendations....................................................................................................................34
References................................................................................................................................35
Chapter 4
Integrating ICTs into Development Co-operation..................................................................37
Introduction..............................................................................................................................37
Who decides? (ownership and participation)...........................................................................40
Who works together? (co-ordination and collaboration – multi-stakeholder).........................48
Do we have the skills? (capacity building)..............................................................................51
Will the situation continue? (sustainability) ............................................................................53
How do we keep learning? (monitoring and evaluation).........................................................57
Is it appropriate? (appropriateness)..........................................................................................58
Conclusion ...............................................................................................................................62
References................................................................................................................................63
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Chapter 5
Conclusions and Recommendations.........................................................................................65
Recommendations....................................................................................................................67
Figures
Figure 1. Contribution of ICTs to pro-poor economic growth............................................16
Figure 2. Concept - three key processes that form the MDG Outcomes,
and the key empowerment...................................................................................28
Figure 3. Framework for discussing principles of development co-operation....................40
Figure 4. Framework matrix and example projects.............................................................41
Figure 5. The virtuous cycle of ownership and participation supported by ICTs...............49
Boxes
Box 1. Defining information and communication technologies (ICTs)..........................11
Box 2. OECD-DAC Donor ICT Strategies Matrix .........................................................14
Box 3. ICTs as a tool.......................................................................................................17
Box 4. The use of phones in rural Africa ........................................................................19
Box 5. The impact of phones on rural markets ...............................................................20
Box 6. The importance of keeping in touch....................................................................21
Box 7. The Millennium Development Goals ..................................................................27
Box 8. Gender and ICTs..................................................................................................33
Box 9. The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction.............................................................38
Box 10. E-Justice...............................................................................................................45
Box 11. Cisco Networking Academy Scholarship Program.............................................47
Box 12. ICTs and agriculture............................................................................................47
Box 13. PHRplus project in Albania.................................................................................47
Box 14. USAID/Tanzania “I-Team”.................................................................................50
Box 15. International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) .................52
Box 16. Cases of building capacity for ICTs ....................................................................52
Box 17. University of the South Pacific (USP).................................................................53
Box 18. A private sector example: ITC Limited India......................................................55
Box 19. Gyandoot .............................................................................................................57
Box 20. USAID/Guinea ....................................................................................................59
Box 21. Interactive radio instruction in Haiti....................................................................59
Box 22. HIV/AIDS and community radio communication for cevelopment in Mali.......59
Box 23. Village phones in Uganda....................................................................................60
Box 24. TALCs in Bolivia ................................................................................................60
Box 25. ICTs and the Asian Tsunami...............................................................................61
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Acronyms
ADB Asian Development Bank
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
CDPF Country Development Programming Framework
CPRGS Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy
CTO Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
DAC Development Assistance Committee
DFID UK Department for International Development
EC European Community
GKP Global Knowledge Partnership
ICD Information and Communication for Development
ICT Information and Communication Technology
ICT4D Information and Communication Technology for Development
IDRC International Development Research Centre
IFC International Finance Corporation
IICD International Institute for Communication and Development
InfoDev World Bank’s Information for Development Program
IT Information Technology
ITU International Telecommunication Union
JBIC Japan Bank for International Cooperation
JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency
LLDCs Least among Less Developed Countries
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MSPs Multi-stakeholder partnerships
NGOs Non-governmental organisations
NICI National Information and Communication Infrastructure
NORAD Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
ODA Official Development Assistance
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
POVNET OECD-DAC Network on Poverty Reduction
PPG Pro-poor growth
PRSPs Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation
SLF Sustainable Livelihoods Framework
Sida Swedish International Development Agency
SME Small and medium-sized enterprise
USD United States dollar
USAID United States Agency for International Development
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNECA United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
WSIS World Summit on the Information Society
NB: It should be noted that different donors tend to use different acronyms. Japan prefers to use IT, DFID
(United Kingdom) uses ICD, and SDC (Switzerland) uses ICT4D. In this publication we have tended to use
ICT or ICTs except where there was a particular reason to draw on a different acronym.
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Executive Summary
This report aims to give an overview of what DAC members currently know about how
Information and Communiation Technology (ICT) use in developing economies can stimulate
economic growth and poverty reduction. This publication outlines the importance of a broader view of
ICTs in development co-operation.
There is a growing body of evidence linking investment in ICTs to economic growth, but little
convincing evidence on the links to pro-poor growth. To understand the link between ICTs and pro-
poor growth more data are required. National planning processes should be encouraged to include an
analysis and comment on the role of ICTs, not only as a sector within the economy, but on their uptake
as complementary factors in pro-poor infrastructure, private-sector development, and in rural
livelihoods. Donors should pay more attention to an enabling pro-poor environment in ICT-related
regulations and policies.
ICTs can also help in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through three basic
processes: enhancing livelihoods, improved efficiency in the delivery of services, and allowing local
stakeholders a voice in the planning process. ICT advances brought about by the private sector can
also complement initiatives undertaken by government or development-cooperation agencies. Two
factors will be vital in allowing these benefits to unfold: the development of capacity in ICT use; and
the generation of suitable content, established not by the ICT sector but by the lead sector in question
– health, education, governance.
This report draws on the responses of DAC members to requests for ICT “lessons learned” and
“good practice”. Members agreed that in ICT, as with all development co-operation, success or failure
depends more on developmental processes rather than the specifics of the co-operation. Integrating
ICTs into development co-operation must follow the basic principles of development co-operation
good practice. The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction give the background against which the
integration of ICTs into development cooperation should be considered.
The practical experience of DAC members suggests a raft of approaches – among them a variety
of different partnerships – to ensure the efficient incorporation of ICT considerations into planning
processes. The integration of ICTs in itself will not provoke adherence to poverty reduction good
practice, but ICTs can support good practice. It is particularly suited to the practice and processes
surrounding ownership and participation.
As the development of ICTs continues at a rapid pace, the development community will face
ongoing challenges regarding the integration of ICTs into development co-operation. There are
dangers regarding the distraction of resources, and the provision of technology without capacity. There
are opportunities for improved ways of working, and for making cost-savings through improved
efficiencies. As the development community considers how to mainstream ICTs in its development
co-operation the focus of the question “How can ICTs be integrated into development co-operation?”
should now be “How can ICTs support development co-operation good practice?”
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To the ICT enthusiast, the recommendations are:
More data are required on the impact and effectiveness of using ICTs to support to pro-poor
growth (PPG) and the deliver of pro-poor services.
The efficiencies and increased effectiveness in mainstream development co-operation that
ICTs can provide has to be demonstrated, particularly where they are competing for scarce
resources.
When considering the introduction or extension of ICTS, it is the potential impact on pro-
poor growth or on the processes which lead towards the MDGs that have to be presented and
discussed, not the development of ICT infrastructure per se, or ICTs as a goal in themselves.
Programmes seeking to integrate ICTs in development co-operation must adhere to good-
practice principles on ownership and participation, co-operation and collaboration, and
capacity-building, if they are to have any measure of success.
Co-operation with the private sector is particularly pertinent for increasing ICT access,
although synergies with other sectors should also be sought.
The user interface should be matched to the clientele capacity, and the relevancy of content
ensured, whatever the ICT used.
To the donor, government or development practitioner, especially those yet to be convinced
about the role of ICTs, the recommendations are:
The impact and effectiveness of using ICTs to support PPG and the deliver of pro-poor
services should be continually assessed – rapid changes in ICTs can offer new ways of
working.
There should be continual assessment of whether ICTs can produce efficiencies and increase
effectiveness in mainstream development co-operation, particularly where there are scarce
resources and ICTs may create savings.
ICTs will have an increasing role in the practice of development co-operation by virtue of
their increasing role in day-to-day life and so should not be ignored – they will increasingly
impinge on the life of the poor.
Development co-operation seeking to adhere to good-practice principles should consider
how ICTs can support and enhance practices such as ownership and participation, co-
operation and collaboration, and capacity-building.
Co-operation with the private sector is particularly pertinent for increasing ICT access, but
synergies with other sectors should be sought.
Planning tools – such as the PRSP process – should include an analysis of the role of ICTs in
poverty-reduction, and seek to put in place a positive enabling environment.
For the development community to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by ICTs, the
community must keep a view that includes the wider picture – not the specifics of this technology or
that channel of information but of the developmental processes known to be good practice.
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Chapter 1
Introduction
In March 2002 seven members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
established their policy and/or strategy paper on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
for Development (ICT4D)2. By March 2005 almost half of DAC members had such documents in
place, and all members have an “ICT4D” – ICTs for development – focal point within each agency.
They also have mainstreamed ICTs into their development programmes, although there is a disparity
among early adopters and newcomers.
Box 1. Defining information and communication technologies (ICTs)
While the common use of ICTs tends to refer to the newer technologies of phone and internet, the term ICT
is best used to also include the more traditional communication media such as radio and television. Digital
convergence is gradually bringing devices to the market that include the traditional media (phones with radio,
media centres with computing capability and television) which will increasingly blur the distinction between old
and new ICTs.
This report presents state-of-the-art knowledge of the integration of ICTs in development
co-operation. It is a discussion of the contribution of ICTs to economic growth and poverty reduction,
deriving from current experience some basic guiding principles for “good practice” regarding ICTs in
development co-operation.
A common theme throughout the report is that, just as poverty is multidimensional, so too is the
role of ICTs. ICTs are not an end in themselves but a means or mechanism that can make a significant
contribution to the fight for poverty reduction. ICTs cannot solve poverty on their own, but they can
make a contribution to the processes that lead to achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs). The economy and pro-poor growth (PPG), as well as the processes of development
co-operation and development intervention. The precise contribution and the impact of that
contribution will vary considerably depending on the specific local circumstances.
The initial two chapters of this report discuss how ICTs contribute to PPG and to achieving the
MDGs. They draw attention to how ICT infrastructure can play a role in PPG and the delivery of
services which contribute to the MDGs. ICT infrastructure in itself may or may not contribute to the
general economy. In spite of the lack of evidence, there is a growing consensus that ICT infrastructure
leads to economic growth. Yet if we make an assumption that it does contribute to the general
economy, we are left with the question of whether that economic growth will lead to PPG – but there
is even less evidence and data to determine the contribution of ICT infrastructure to PPG. The
2 In response to the request for information conducted by the OECD Development Co-operation
Directorate in April 2002, it was found that seven members (EC, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden,
United Kingdom and United States) had their paper on ICT4D, and that three members (Canada, Italy
and the Netherlands) were in the process of finalising their draft.
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consensus is that the ICT contribution to PPG is dependent not on the ICT infrastructure per se but on
the role of ICTs in supporting pro-poor initiatives. The chapters demonstrate that the contribution of
the ICT infrastructure is dependent on its integration with other pro-poor initiatives.
As far the fulfilment of the MDGs is concerned, experience has shown that ICT/technology-push
projects are not the best contributions. MDG led development co-operation, pulling in ICTs where
appropriate and efficient, will give more poverty impact. Part of this shift from “push” to “pull” will
depend on mainstreaming, which will depend to a large extent on articulating ICT potential to
different audiences. One of the difficulties is the barrier of insufficient information – questions over
the actual impact of an ICT intervention, and of its potential to scale, replicate and to be sustainable.
The opening chapters therefore suggest that the development community has reached a basic
understanding of ICTs as a tool for development, and that a prime challenge now is for DAC members
to integrate ICTs in development co-operation with some good practice principles. Chapter 4 presents
the current knowledge regarding integrating ICTs in development co-operation, and takes the view
that it is difficult to publish a definitive text. Several factors conspire to suggest that DAC members do
not yet have enough evidence to support the production of a “good practice guide”. These factors
include the rapid pace of change among ICTs and the scattered experience of DAC members. What
has been learnt so far by the ICT4D community is that ICTs are not a special case, and are subject to
the same good practice principles as other development activities. This has an impact on integration
into development co-operation in two specific ways:
ICT enthusiasts or champions, who believe that ICTs can contribute to poverty reduction,
must ensure that poverty-reduction good practice must be incorporated into any ICT
initiatives.
DAC members of any discipline, who are implementing development co-operation, should
consider and assess the potential role of ICTs to support poverty reduction good practice.
The chapter draws on The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction to demonstrate how ICTs can
support good practice in development co-operation. It summarises the guidelines as five key practices.
A sixth practice or principle is added based on specific feedback from ICT pilots and experiences.
This is also a collaborative response and follow-up from the DAC members to the World Summit
on the Information Society (WSIS) Plan of Action3 as stated below.
“D1. Priorities and strategies
b) ICTs should be fully mainstreamed into strategies for Official Development Assistance
(ODA) through more effective donor information-sharing and co-ordination, and through
analysis and sharing of best practices and lessons learned from experience with ICT-for-
development programmes.”
Who should read this document
The report is intended for development practitioners, both those with ICT experience and those
who are considering the use of ICTs in mainstream development activities.
For those who are enthusiastic about the potential of ICTs for promoting economic growth,
targeting pro-poor growth and increasing the efficiency of development co-operation, the report will
3 See: www.itu.int/wsis.
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encourage a wider view, a stepping-back to look at the whole picture. It calls on ICT champions to
look at the processes of development – such as participation by all stakeholders, local ownership,
capacity-building, planning, and monitoring and evaluation.
For those who do not naturally explore new ICT possibilities, and are focused on their
mainstream work, the publication encourages the consideration of ICTs. These are changing rapidly
and new ways of working are constantly arising. Efficiencies can be realised, and there are potential
savings in cost-effectiveness. These opportunities do not substitute different objectives or purposes for
development co-operation. They are potential new tools for fulfilling the agreed goals. There is
considerable potential for ICTs to support developmental processes, and the report shows how ICTs
can contribute to the MDGs and PPG, and how they integrate with development co-operation.
Method
This report is the outcome of a process starting from the turn of the century. The following
OECD meetings, among others, constitute the key milestones of the process:
Joint OECD-DAC/World Bank Workshop: “Using Information Technology to Promote Aid
Effectiveness”, November 2000 in Paris.
Joint OECD/UN/UNDP/World Bank “Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy:
Exploiting the Digital Opportunities for Poverty Reduction”, March 2001 in Paris.
Joint OECD/UN/World Bank “Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy: Integrating
Information and Communication Technology in Development Programmes”, March 2003 in
Paris.
This process has not been stand-alone and has constituted part of international platform for
discussions, inter alia, such as the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force) established by the
G8 at their Okinawa summit in July 2000, the UN ICT Task Force which is the follow-up to bridging
the digital divide as requested in the Millennium Summit Declaration and, of course, the whole
process of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
It builds on the work of OECD Growth Project and its follow-up. Furthermore, it also builds on
the related work of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) on “ICTs and Economic
Growth in Developing Countries”, prepared by Mr. David Souter.
The report links with the work of DAC Network on Poverty Reduction (POVNET), including the
Infrastructure for Poverty Reduction Task Team (InfraPoor Task Team) discussions. In particular, it
draws on Ms. Susanne Hesselbarth’s work on infrastructure.
In the process of formulating the publication, consultations were made.
DCD Seminar “A Dialogue on ICTs and Poverty: The Harvard Forum” and the following
informal expert meeting, 7 July 2004 in Paris, supported by Canada’s International
Development Research Centre (IDRC).
OECD-DAC/SDC Bilateral Donor Agencies Meeting: “Knowledge and People-centred
Communication: Potentials and Pitfalls for Poverty Reduction and Advancement of
Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)”, and the following informal expert meeting,
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1 September 2004 in Geneva, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and
Co-operation (SDC).
Second Workshop of the InfraPoor Task Team, 27–29 October 2004 in Berlin.
Workshop on ICTs and Poverty Reduction, 29 January 2005 in Accra, Ghana, as part of the
Second African Regional Preparatory Committee Conference for WSIS, supported by the
Republic of Ghana and coordinated by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
As acknowledged above, the report draws in particular on information collected through OECD
DAC ICTs for Development (ICT4D) focal points network by Mr. Benoît D'Ansembourg during the
months of July–September 2004, as well as the whole exercise of creation of and updates of the
OECD-DAC Donor ICT Strategies Matrix, which was originally initiated by IDRC, starting from
December 2000. The Matrix was published in February 2001, its second and current format in
February 2003, its CD-ROM version with updates and all the donor documents in December 2003,
and the most recent revision in July 2004.
Box 2. OECD-DAC Donor ICT Strategies Matrix
To encourage information sharing and co-ordination, the OECD/DAC produced a collection/directory of
information on ICTs for development strategies and programmes of 23 bilateral and 25 multilateral donors.
This Matrix presents the latest information on how bilateral and multilateral donors have “mainstreamed”
information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their development-assistance programme in order to
achieve development goals – particularly the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – more effectively and
efficiently.
The CD-ROM (December 2003 version), prepared as a contribution to the first phase of the World Summit
on the Information Society (WSIS), is enriched with the inclusion of a large number of strategies papers and other
related documents submitted by donors.
Each donor entry has formatted information on guiding principles and objectives (including areas of
application), programmes (including participation in multi-donor programmes), regional focus, scale of financing,
and contact/website details.
See: www.oecd.org/dac/ict
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Chapter 2
The Contribution of ICTs to Pro-Poor Growth
Introduction
Poverty is widely recognised as multidimensional, encompassing food security, health, education,
rights, security and dignity, among other elements. Although its resolution should also be
multidimensional, we focus in this chapter on one of the key factors: economic growth, and pro-poor
economic growth in particular. The following chapter, “The Contribution of ICTs to Achieving the
MDGs”, discusses the broader dimensions of poverty. This chapter is intended to stimulate discussion
regarding the contribution ICTs can make towards pro-poor growth.
ICTs and economic growth
What exactly is pro-poor growth?
In order to discuss the contribution of ICTs to pro-poor growth we need to establish a basic
understanding of what the term means. Economists and agencies have various views on pro-poor
growth and how it should be defined; alternative views are summarised in a paper by E. Pernia:4
Pro-poor growth has been defined variously. Some refer to it as growth that results in
significant poverty reduction, thereby benefiting the poor and improving their access to
opportunities (e.g. UN 2000, World Bank 2000, OECD 2001).
Others equate pro-poor growth with high elasticity of poverty with respect to growth
(e.g. Ravallion and Datt, 2002). Ravallion and Chen (2003) also introduce the concept of
“mean growth rate of the poor”, which seems analytically ambiguous. Pro-poor growth is the
type of growth that enables the poor to actively participate in economic activity and benefit
proportionally more than the nonpoor from overall income increase. This signals a clear
departure from the trickle-down development notion of the 1950s and 1960s that meant a
gradual top-down flow from the rich to the poor. Klasen (2001, 2) similarly defines
“pro-poor growth to mean that the poor benefit disproportionately from economic growth.
This chapter does not address the relationship between economic growth and pro-poor growth,
nor whether pro-poor growth can only occur in response to specific pro-poor actions. We do know,
however, that some investments return a high yield in terms of pro-poor growth. In order to discuss the
contribution of ICTs, and to avoid the details of the debate, we propose the following diagramme to
give a framework for the discussion.
4 Pernia, E. (2003).
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Figure 1. Contribution of ICTs to pro-poor economic growth
Figure 1 suggests that ICTs can make a contribution to economic growth, and in particular pro-
poor growth by contributing to:
Strengthening the economy in specific sectors, or play a role in specific processes that lead
to economic growth.
Specific pro-poor actions, or indeed to the livelihoods of the poor.
The impact of ICTs on macro-economic growth in developing countries has recently been
addressed as a topic for research. If pro-poor growth is a sub-set of macro-economic growth, then it is
important to understand the role of ICTs in macro-economic growth.
Reality check – growth is more likely than pro-poor growth
It is clear that ICTs can facilitate economic growth in more developed countries; OECD (2003b)
identifies ways in which this has been experienced:
The technological innovation and high volumes of demand generated by an ICT production
sector.
Use of ICTs throughout the value chain has contributed to multi-factor productivity.
ICT investment has contributed to “capital deepening”.
E
CONOMIC
G
ROWTH
Inclusive Growth………………………………….Focused Pro-Poor Growth
Rural Livelihoods
Private Sector Development
Infrastructure
Financial Infrastructure
Service delivery support structures
etc.
e.g. R ural roads
connect the poor
to markets
e.g. Inves tment in
local agricultural
resear ch provid es
high est pro-p oor gains Systemic pro-poor
growth barriers
e.g.
- Natural
vulnerabilities
- Corruption
- Capacity (lack of)
- etc
Information and Communication Technologies
ICT used to
address
barriers
ICT direct
enhancement of
Poor livel ihoods
ICT
complementing
specific Pro Poor
Growth activities
ICT enhancing
efficiencies in
specific sectors
ICT support
for growth
processes
e.g. supporting SME
entrep reneurs
Pro-Poor Growth (PPG) diagram.
Processes supporting
growth
e.g.
- Capital Deepening
- Labour utilisation
and Productivity
- Network effect
- Multi Factor
Productivity (MFP)
- etc.
K
ey Drivers of growt
h:
e.g. micro-c redit
available through
social capital
etc
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Yet there are some doubts as to the relationship between cause and effect. Only in
telecommunications does there seem to be a clear cause and effect.5 Souter (2004) notes differences in
macro-economic context between developed and developing countries, the most significant of which
may be that developing-country economies are largely based on the production of raw materials and
subsistence agriculture, neither of which hold much promise for improved efficiency through the
application of ICTs.
Some developing countries have proven that concentrating on ICT production and service sectors
can help their economies grow, as adequately demonstrated by growth in Asia in the 1990s. Although
in some cases this growth led to noticeable poverty-reduction, the poor can benefit proportionally less
than the non-poor:
Analysis of global cross-national data shows that the incomes of the poor move
proportionately one-for-one with overall average incomes (Dollar and Kraay, 2001).
However, because Asia is so vast and diverse, its success story does not apply equally to all
countries, nor can the results of crossnational regressions be taken at face value. The
relationship between growth and poverty is highly country-specific, as exemplified by the
analyses of subnational data for individual countries (Pernia 2001). These indicate that the
poor typically gain less than proportionately from increases in overall average incomes, and
that other factors (initial conditions and institutions) matter to poverty reduction besides their
impact on growth itself.6
Thus, although some evidence suggests ICTs contribute to general economic growth, there is
very little evidence to believe that the poorest countries will be able to utilise its potential fully in
increasing efficiencies in its resource-based industries. There is also very little evidence to believe that
the future impact of any ICT activities that encourage and affect general economic growth would be
more pro-poor than current experiences – unless policies are introduced to ensure such an affect.
How do ICTs contribute to pro-poor growth (PPG)
ICTs are multidimensional
Although economic growth may lead to pro-poor growth, many commentators believe that there
have to be specific pro-poor activities. These interventions are specifically designed to reduce
inequalities. How can ICTs contribute to these specific pro-poor actions?
5 Roller and Waverman (2003).
6 Pernia, E. (2003).
Box 3. ICTs as a tool
ICTs offer the potential to share information across traditional barriers, to give a voice to traditionally
unheard peoples, to provide valuable information that enhances economic, health and educational activities. But
ICTs are only a tool: pro-poor development must consider ICTs a means in the fight against poverty, not an end.
Many of the genuinely “pro-poor” aspects of ICT-enabled growth may arise only indirectly.
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Several sectors can be regarded as prerequisites (or drivers) for economic growth (Figure 1).
Those that have the potential to enhance pro-poor growth specifically include infrastructure, private-
sector development (PSD) and rural livelihoods. ICTs tend to be complementary to existing practice
within each of these sectors rather than substitute for them.
Complementarity of ICTs and other pro-poor infrastructure
The growth in infrastructure and the resulting connectedness (especially because of roads, but
also thanks to electricity) has been shown to be an immensely important factor governing the growth
in household income. Studies show that pro-poor growth can be found where infrastructure services
help to enhance the productivity of the poor:
1. Market expansion and improvement (reduction of transaction costs).
2. Reduction of important dimensions of the risks that are inhibiting private investment in
manufacturing and agriculture.
3. Reduction of the community and household risks from natural and man-made disasters, and
health emergencies.
4. Contribution to empowerment (to a degree in the short term and especially for the long
term), by providing inputs – of communication facilities and mobility, energy and water
supply – that are essential for the spread of education and health services to strengthen the
human capital of the poor.
ICT infrastructure also demonstrates these characteristics, for instance:
1. Access to market data can assist market expansion and reduce transaction costs.
2. Traders can reduce risk of overstocking by using ICTs to confirm supply and demand.
3. Emergency warnings by various media can substantially reduce risks.
4. The combination of rural roads and ICTs can lead to more effective responses to health.
Pro-poor growth, therefore, requires extension of infrastructure services to rural areas where the
majority of the poor reside, often far from major centres of growth. Connecting such communities to
the economy of a nation requires substantial investment in infrastructure which would be delayed, if
not absent altogether, if poverty reduction were not a priority; that is, pro-poor growth typically
requires more targeted investment in infrastructure. This holds true for ICTs, where extension of the
telecommunication system to the rural poor must be actively encouraged by pro-poor policies.
A group of experts claim that this is far from common practice: “If one looks at Africa the costs of
access to ICTs will simply mean that there will never be ICT diffusion as it currently is. There is
certainly a clearness that privatization on its own has not been a successful strategy. The lack of
effective regulation, to give an extended private monopoly, has actually done many of our countries a
great disservice.”7 There is a need for pro-poor policies that ensure the ICT sector covers rural areas.
Nonetheless, telecommunications is the only service which is proving profitable in remote rural
areas. Recent evidence indicates that volumes of demand amongst rural communities is proving higher
than initially expected, so additional investment in infrastructure is likely either to be profitable, or to
7 Harvard Forum (2004).
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require less subsidy than expected.8 The development of new wireless technologies has led to the
emergence of innovative business models that may prove effective in rural areas.
There is no evidence that ICT infrastructure can substitute for “traditional infrastructure” (roads,
energy, water). On the contrary, ICT services can enhance the pro-poor value of traditional
infrastructure: roads can open up access to markets for farmers, for example, and the use of phones can
then enable them to select markets more efficiently and conduct remote transactions. Innovative
approaches to linking ICT infrastructure expansion to other services are beginning to emerge; for
instance, the Rural Communication Development Fund in Uganda is linked to the Energy for Rural
Transformation project.
Box 4. The use of phones in rural Africa
The use of phones is no longer confined to the rich. For instance, although teledensity remains low in
Ghana, Uganda and Botswana, research shows that over 80% of residents in typical rural districts have made at
least one call in the last three months. This strategic use of the phone illustrates that the impact of ICTs on poor
livelihoods will not directly correlate with indicators of access – the number of phones per hundred people.
Similarly, the impact on the rural economy can be significant, even with a small number of phones per
community. (McKemey et al., 2003)
Market efficiency, private sector development and ICTs for PPG
As with infrastructure, private sector development can have a pro-poor emphasis. The focus will
be on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In a predominantly agricultural context, productivity
depends upon flexible and efficient markets. SMEs are a key part of the private sector in developing
nations and entrepreneurship is the basis of the necessary flexibility in the markets (although
entrepreneurs frequently lack business-management skills, which is an important ongoing constraint).
ICTs offer entrepreneurs new tools which can be used to improve flexibility and efficiency.
Business networks, especially clusters, are conduits of innovation and increase productivity
through specialisation and flexibility. Virtual business clusters are made possible through the use of
ICTs. ICT service industries can be fostered through incubator programmes, which tend to form part
of national ICT strategies (the Mozambique Information and Communication Technology Institute
[MICTI] in Mozambique is one example), although the impact of such incubators is often limited to
better-educated people, rather than those who are overtly pro-poor. Donors are now gaining experience
of how ways of working can be made specifically pro-poor. Decision-makers should nonetheless be
realistic about the potential within their country for developing an ICT sector: “National strategies
which seek to replicate the experience of Bangalore are likely to fail; those that focus on using ICTs to
increase the productivity of established sectors in which a country has competitive advantage … are
more likely to succeed.”9
Risk and transaction costs depress investment, a driver of growth. ICTs have shown that they can
reduce transaction costs, and they can also play a role in combating risk. Many market transactions
include a risk of injustice – the often the wealthy who are the better informed are able to exploit the
ill-informed poor. By enabling the poor to coordinate, to voice their concerns and to lobby decision-
8 E.g. McKemey et al. (2003).
9 Souter (2004).
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makers, ICTs can lead to reforms in the justice system. It has been shown that social justice leads to
higher and longer sustained growth as well as more reduction of poverty.
Economies tend to grow when there are open markets for trade, technology and ideas. ICTs offer
access to the global markets, better technologies for delivering products and services, and new
opportunities for tapping global knowledge. Production amongst poor communities, by contrast, is
mostly traded in local markets, so that the impact of these on pro-poor growth is limited; one
exception is the development of niche markets in, for example, organic produce.
Box 5. The impact of phones on rural markets
Recent research in Mozambique shows that when farmers, traders and wholesalers have access to
phones, markets becomes more dynamic. It is not clear that this results in lower prices, but it does mean that
products can be moved more quickly, resulting in product diversification – as when farmers find new markets for
fresh vegetables. A counter-intuitive finding is that farmers in rural areas have a culture of co-operating together,
which extends to sharing market information, so that ownership of a phone does not necessarily give a farmer a
competitive advantage. The whole community benefits from the presence of even a single phone.
Source: Scott et al., 2005.10
ICTs support rural livelihoods for PPG
There are three factors which are crucial to market access: physical infrastructure (discussed
above); relations between producers, traders and consumers; and information on how markets operate,
including price fluctuations and consumer preferences. Access to ICTs by the poor through investment
in infrastructure must, therefore, be accompanied by the development of content (or services) which
facilitate relations and the exchange of market information. With regard to rural livelihoods, pro-poor
growth will be enabled by the ICT sector not when the poor have access to technology, but when the
poor have access to useful content – market data, agricultural options, educational opportunities
(child and adult), health information, governance options, etc. Therefore, pro-poor policies in the ICT
sector should include pro-poor content creation.
Remittances are becoming an increasingly important feature of rural economics, and their role as
part of coping strategies of the rural poor are becoming recognised; the G8 estimate international
remittances are now approaching USD 100 billion annually. Access to ICTs (phones) is an important
factor in facilitating the flow of remittances, and it is clear this is true not only for “international”
remittances, but also in the flow of cash (and goods) within nations.
Social capital is important to multi-spatial households. ICTs offer new opportunities for
communication that can be central to alternative livelihood strategies. In addition the combination of
traditional broadcast media with modern technologies offers new possibilities. For instance, it has
been found that where radio has been used to broadcast (paid) short verbal messages from individuals
to their family members in rural areas, it becomes very common and cost-effective.
Rural households can earn higher incomes from the production of agricultural goods for non-
local markets, and ICTs can play a role, along with trade liberalisation and improved transport
infrastructure, in opening up new markets. Higher incomes will in turn increase demand for consumer
goods. This leads to the creation of non-farm jobs and employment diversification, especially in small
10 Scott et al. (2005).
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towns close to agricultural production areas. Telecommunications in particular can enhance
connections between rural and urban populations, although the main benefits are social, i.e. “keeping
in touch”.
Box 6. The importance of keeping in touch
In Laos PDR, KfW provided funds for network extensions exclusively to rural areas. The mountainous
geography and low population density made the project unattractive from a purely economic point of view. But as
a pro-poor project it demonstrated strong demand from the poor. An impact study found that 80% of users
earned less than 1 dollar a day. Their use focuses on contact with family members and information on
government issues. By substituting one trip per month by a phone call, the study found that the poor were
generating an average surplus of USD 77 per year. 75% of rural business users experienced an increase in profit
and revenues.
Details at: www.lao.net/html/ICT/conf01soonsong.htm.
Spatial proximity to urban markets does not necessarily improve farmers’ access to the inputs and
services required to increase agricultural productivity. Access to land, capital and labour are far more
important in determining the extent to which farmers are able to benefit from markets. Similarly,
access to global markets through ICTs can enhance agricultural production only in the context of the
overall livelihood system. While some agencies are reporting examples of the poor making gains into
new markets through application of ICTs, there are also other reports illustrating the barriers that the
poor are experiencing and which ICTs cannot overcome.
Although investment in rural infrastructure (roads, electricity, and telecommunications) has an
impact on reducing poverty (mainly due to improved opportunities for non-farm employment, and
increased rural wages), it has been shown that investment in education, agricultural research and
rural livelihoods development can achieve more impact.11 The donor community is, therefore, being
encouraged to make investments in livelihoods research and rural education, to give some of the best
win-win investments. ICTs have a role to play in supporting the delivery of such services in rural
communities. For example, radio has long been a tool for mass extension of research, and studies (in
Vietnam among other places) show that improvements in the yields of crops from households with a
radio are often equal to those of households who have regular visits from extension workers. ICTs
offer opportunities for data analysis, enhancing planning, for training and dissemination of research,
enhancing uptake of new methods and techniques, and for reducing vulnerabilities (through weather
warnings and input mobilisation, for example).
ICTs increase voice and influence over key PPG policies
In order to identify pro-poor policies, the poor themselves must be involved in decision-making.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) as a process are a key mechanism that can be used to
ensure that pro-poor policies are appropriate and effective.
The relationship between ICTs and the PRSP process is important. ICTs have three key roles in
PRSPs.
11 Fan (2004).
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1. As a sector. A number of PRSPs are mentioning the importance of strengthen the ICT sector
(often referred to solely as telecommunication sector).
2. As a mechanism or tool for enhancing other sectors. ICTs can make a contribution
towards pro-poor growth not simply by increasing access through a strengthened ICT sector
but by strategic use of ICTs in other sectors, including content development. The PRSPs and
associated processes are opportunities for the poor and their representatives to ensure that
developments in these sectors are pro-poor.
3. As a mechanism or tool to facilitate the PRSP process. The PRSP is intended to be a
driver of pro-poor growth, so it is essential that the poor are included in the policy-making
process – ICTs offer opportunities to do this, in, for instance, talk-show radio, contacting
their representatives, etc.
ICT as a sector can provide the new opportunities for pro-poor action as discussed above. The
availability and accessibility of ICT services is itself dependent on the enabling and regulatory
environment governing the ICT sector. That enabling environment should be pro-poor and will tend to
be if it is part of the PRSP process.
Is this based on evidence, anecdote or assumption?
To summarise the key hypotheses:
ICTs can support economic growth. They can support the processes of growth, and enhance
key sectors of an economy, although the potential for developing countries remains unclear.
The contribution of ICT can be through increased productivity, improved networking, and
the growth of the ICT sector (production and service industries).
There is debate among economists as to whether a focus on overall economic growth is
enough to reduce poverty. We do know that economic growth is not a guarantee of poverty
reduction, but it is absolutely essential for sustaining poverty reduction over the longer term.
ICTs can be used to support pro-poor actions.
ICTs are complementary to other forms of infrastructure – e.g. rural roads are still required.
ICTs can help private sector development particularly through improved efficiencies
(markets).
ICTs can help improve access to markets for rural livelihoods.
ICTs can give a voice to the poor in PRSP formulation processes.
But how much of this hypothesis is based on evidence and how much is assumption based on a
few anecdotes?
Policy implications for donors – a few key recommendations
Until evidence to the contrary is found, the impact of investment in ICTs is likely to follow the
normal pattern of essentially driving macro-economic (pro-rich) growth, the debate regarding the
relative contributions to poverty reduction of overall, macro-economic growth and of specific pro-poor
actions is likely to continue. There is a growing body of evidence linking investment in ICTs to
economic growth, but little convincing evidence on the links to pro-poor growth. But to understand the
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link between ICTs and pro-poor growth more data are required. A number of donors are beginning
to address the requirement for further research in this area.
PRSP processes should be encouraged to include an analysis and comment on the role of ICTs,
not only as a sector within the economy, but on their uptake as complementary factors in pro-poor
infrastructure, private-sector development, and in rural livelihoods. Donors should pay more attention
to an enabling pro-poor environment in ICT-related regulations and policies.
Where it has been highlighted in the PRSP, donors should seek to support some linked
infrastructure programmes for rural areas (e.g. extending the mobile phone network into areas
where new rural roads are built). There is a positive role for donors and governments to play in this
area, alongside the private sector, if the impact of increasing access to ICTs is going to be genuinely
pro-poor.
When considering the potential benefits of investment in ICTs, policy-makers should be aware of
the available “lessons learned” from activities in other sectors. Since rural livelihoods and education
are said to be win-win investments, resources intended to be stimulation of pro-poor growth, and
which are ICT orientated, should be concentrated on rural livelihoods and education.
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REFERENCES
Dahlman, C. (2002), “Policy Strategies for a Knowledge Based Economy: The Asian Experience”,
OECD IPS World Bank Workshop on promoting Knowledge Based Economies in Asia,
Singapore. www.oecd.org/dataoecd/9/7/2482413.pdf
Fan, S. (2004), “Infrastructure and Pro-poor Growth”, OECD-DAC Network on Poverty Reduction:
Agriculture and Pro-Poor Growth. Paris.
G8 (2004), Action Plan: Applying the Power of Entrepreneurship to the Eradication of Poverty.
Gerster, R., and S. Zimmermann (2003), Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for
Poverty Reduction, Discussion Paper, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Switzerland.
Harris, R. (2004), Information and Communication Technologies for Poverty Alleviation, E-primer,
UNDP-APDIP. New York.
Harvard Forum (2004), A Dialogue on ICTs and Poverty. Paris.
Hudock, A. (2004), Hearing the Voices of the Poor, Encouraging Good Governance and Poverty
Reduction through Media Sector Support, World Learning, 2004.
McKemey, K. et al. (2003), Innovative Demand Models for Telecommunications Services (R8069),
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McNamara, K. (2003), Information and Communication Technologies, Poverty and Development:
Learning from Experience, Background Paper, InfoDev Annual Symposium. Washington.
OECD (2003a), Joint OECD/UN/World Bank Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy: Integrating
ICT in Development Programmes. CD-ROM. Paris.
OECD (2003b), ICT and Economic Growth, Evidence from OECD Countries, Industries and Firms,
Paris.
OECD (2003d), Donor ICT Strategies Matrix, CD-ROM. Paris.
OECD (2004a), “The Contribution of ICTs to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs)”, OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Paris.
OECD (2004b), ICTs and Economic Growth: The OECD Experience and Beyond, OECD-DAC
Network on Poverty Reduction, 2004, Paris.
OECD (2004c), “Promoting SMEs for Development”, OECD-DAC Network on Poverty Reduction.
Paris.
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OECD (2004d), Accelerating Pro-Poor Growth through Support for Private Sector Development,
OECD-DAC Network on Poverty Reduction. Paris.
Orden, D., M. Torer and A. Gulati (2004), “Agricultural Markets and the Rural Poor”, OECD-DAC
Network on Poverty Reduction. Paris.
Pernia, E. (2003), “Pro-poor Growth: What is it and How is it Important?”, ERD Policy Brief No. 17.
Asia Development Bank, Manila.
Quiang C., A. Pitt, and S. Ayers (2003), Contribution of Information Communication Technologies to
Growth, World Bank, Washington.
Roller, L. and L. Waverman (1996), The Impact of Telecommunications Infrastructure on Economic
Development, University of Calgary Press, Alberta.
Scarpetta, S. et al. (2000), Economic Growth in the OECD Area: Recent Trends at the Aggregate and
Sectoral Level, OECD Economics Department Working Paper 248. Paris.
Scott, N., K. McKemey, D. Souter (2005), Interim findings from "The economic impact of
telecommunications access on rural livelihoods and poverty reduction" DFID, London.
Souter, D. (2004), ICT and Economic Growth in Developing Countries, OECD-DAC Network on
Poverty Reduction. Paris.
Tacoli, C. (2004), “Rural Urban Linkages and Pro-poor Agricultural Growth, an Overview”,
OECD-DAC Network on Poverty Reduction: Agriculture and Pro-poor Growth. Paris.
Tambini, D. et al (2004), Media and Economic Development: Some Issues, University of Oxford
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The World Development Report (2002), “Building Institutions for Markets”, Rep. No. 22825.
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UNCTAD (2004), An Interactive Debate among Governments, Private Sector Representatives and
Civil Society on the Role of ICT as an Enabler for Growth and Competitiveness in Developing
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Vorley, B. and T. Fox (2004), Global Food Chains: Constraints and Opportunities for Smallholders,
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Chapter 3
The Contribution of ICTs to Achieving
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Introduction
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are an outcome expression of the global fight
against poverty. The outcomes are based on a pro-poor enabling environment, which includes pro-
poor economic growth, the delivery of services to the poor, and the responses of the poor in terms of
livelihoods. The analysis of the latter can be expressed in terms of market based pro-poor growth,
sustainable livelihoods, resource distribution including social assets or a rights-based analysis. The
fight to fulfil the MDGs is neither an MDG-by-MDG fight nor even a sector-by-sector fight. Poverty
is multidimensional, and our solutions also have to be multidimensional.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are such a case in point. For example, the
advent of a telecommunication system which reaches to poor rural regions is: i) a mechanism by
which the market may change potentially in favour of the rural poor (MDG1); ii) a mechanism for
supporting teachers in isolated schools (MDG2); iii) an opportunity for women to start businesses they
may not otherwise have been able to (MDG3); and, iv) for supporting health workers in isolated
clinics (MDGs 4, 5 and 6).
The link between ICTs and MDGs is currently a key subject for debate. This chapter has drawn
on a number of recent works including OECD (2004a), World Bank (2003b), the plan of action of
UNICT Task Force,12 among others. Many agencies are now focusing attention on the linkages
between investment in ICTs and fulfilling the MDGs, and after many years of pilot projects the focus
of ICT interventions seems to be in mainstreaming strategies. Given the number of recent papers, what
is distinctive about this paper? This paper seeks to draw out the key messages from recent work, with
due regard to the degree of confidence we have in those messages, and provide a challenging basis for
discussion among donors on how best to take this work forward in an effective and co-ordinated way.
Box 7. The Millennium Development Goals
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empowerment of women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
Details about the DAC and MDGs at: www.oecd.org/dac/mdg
12 Details at: www.unicttaskforce.org/about/planofaction.html.
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How do ICTs contribute to achieving MDGs?
The MDGs have helped the development community to focus. There has been a significant shift
from presenting achievement as the outcomes of projects and programmes to discussing the movement
of whole nations and groups of people to the MDG targets. This has to be reflected in the discussion of
ICTs. Many of the newer ICTs have had five years of pilots and “experimentation”. If ICTs are to
contribute to the 2015 goals, they now have to be mainstreamed – to be replicated and scaled where
they are appropriate and relevant. This paper aims to help prioritise responses to these changes.
Experience has shown that ICT/technology-push projects are not the best contributions to
fulfilling the MDGs. MDG-led development co-operation, pulling in ICTs where appropriate and
efficient, will have more of an impact on poverty. Part of this shift from push to pull will depend on
mainstreaming, which will depend to a large extent on articulating ICTs potential to different
audiences. A few development agencies, such as USAID (2004), have seen ICTs being embedded into
mainstream programmes, but most other agencies are finding the process more difficult. One of the
difficulties is the barrier of insufficient information – questions over the actual impact of an ICT
intervention, and of its potential to scale, replicate and to be sustainable.
Figure 2. Concept – Three Key Processes that Form the MDG Outcomes, and the Key Empowerment
"Filter"
To discuss the pull of the MDGs for the “services” of ICTs, Figure 2 proposes the basic concept
that the outcomes of the MDGs will be reached through three basic processes – livelihood
enhancement, efficiency in delivering services, and efficiencies and voice in the planning processes.
The economic and social context will be important to the relative contributions, and where pro-poor
Social and Economic Context
MDG 1
MDG 2
MDG 3
MDG
4
MDG 5
MDG 6
MDG 7
MDG 8
Empowerment
(Local process and PRSP process)
Institutional
planning
processes
Service delivery
(efficiencies)
Direct
livelihood
impact
Enabling environment
Investment/Development of
ICTs
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growth has been prioritised, that should enhance the economic contribution.13 Similarly the social
context becomes important in that it can often determine the opportunities for voice and
empowerment. Empowerment, particularly in the form of the PRSPs, can be thought of as a filter that
determines the flow and ultimately the impact of the processes. A few examples of the linkages
between each process and outcome are given below.
“ICT sector” projects, especially policy and infrastructure/pipe-focused interventions, are only
one step in a theory of change – a potential contribution to the other processes. The combination of the
economy and the enabling and regulatory environment will affect the pool of ICT choices available
from which the three basic processes can pull. The targets and goals of the MDGs are expected to be
seen after such pro-poor processes have been implemented, and the ICT community should now
describe how ICTs will affect this part of the development story. The information and knowledge of
poor people come from not one ICT but from a mixture of many of them, and from the information
that the ICT allows access to. It is the use of the information at this level among the poor and the
application of knowledge that affects their lives, that gives progress towards achieving the MDG
targets.
How can ICTs contribute to the planning processes – national and international
We take for granted the efficiency gains made by the recent advances in electronic
communication. The OECD regularly publishes reports that are accessible to any government, any
department in any country, and are open to public scrutiny. The media can report internationally
disasters that provoke immediate humanitarian aid – although as recently as 1984 the drought in
Ethiopia was initially “hidden”; its revelation was itself a world event. It would be hard to envisage
some of the most effective global partnerships and networks (MDG 8) operating without the use of
e-mail and international communications. “In an example of Global Partnership that works towards
MDG 8 Target 2 (address the special needs of small island developing states), Japan, Australia and
New Zealand co-operated to build an internal network for the University of the South Pacific (created
by 12 Pacific island-countries) to send and receive training material and be able to communicate via
satellite.” (JICA, 2003)
In terms of national planning in Africa, urban telephony, especially when linked to radio, has
enabled consultation to occur where it would otherwise have been passed over. And within
governments there is a much wider availability of documents even to junior officials. Specifically in
regard to environment planning (MDG 7) we note that ICTs, especially media, can be used very
effectively by a range of stakeholders to raise the degree of awareness and accountability of
decision- and policy-makers, to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are integrated
into country policies and programmes. Environmental monitoring, modelling, forecasting
environmental threats – as well as planning how best to manage these risks – all depend heavily on
ICT tools.
The Afghanistan Codan Radio Program has linked communications among the Kabul-based
Afghan Government and its 32 provincial governments through an electronic network.
(USAID, 2004)
In this way ICTs have become an integral part of the move towards fulfilling the MDGs. Papers
are shared, thoughts and concepts developed, and lessons learned from one location can be transferred
at least cost.
13 See Chapter 2.
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How can ICTs contribute to empowerment and the PRSP process?
Empowerment is integral to effective planning. The planning process should include the
empowerment of women if it is to fulfil MDG 3, and empowerment of the marginalised is captured
within MDG 8. Within the development community, in addition to the relatively recent shift to results-
based monitoring (that is, targeting the MDGs), there has also been the significant shift to PRSPs. The
potential of an open, transparent consultative process encompassed in the PRSP has yet to be fully
realised, but it is here that ICTs have an important role to play. They can contribute to an inclusive,
informed priority-setting, increasing accountability and eventually good governance.
The role ICTs may play in the development and monitoring of PRSPs is very much determined
by the current understanding and context of the PRSP process. Civil society is increasingly looking to
umbrella organisations to represent the views of the poor, and contact with such organisations is
enhanced by ICTs. This has strengthened information-sharing and debate among civil-society
organisations, and has enhanced their advocacy capacity. ICTs have enhanced the new openness by
government, making circulation of key documents and budgets possible (e-government).
Connexiones, an Internet/telecentre based project that prioritises discussion by young people
of democracy and their roles as citizens. (Batchelor et al., 2003)
Although genuine debate on the media is often lacking, the World Bank has begun to recognise
that so far too little attention has been paid to the importance of information – through the media and
other channels – in creating a sense of national ownership and readiness to participate in PRSPs. The
coming years will see an increasing emphasis and dialogue on the role of development communication
in both fulfilling development targets, but also in consultation and planning for reaching those targets.
Finally on empowerment, in addition to improving day-to-day abilities for communication, and
associated awareness-raising, lobbying and access to governance, ICTs are beginning to affect the
basic structure of democracy. Experiments in offering access to land titles in India seem to have had a
significant impact on the marginalised, and lowered corruption and opportunity costs for the user.
“Gyandoot” (offering land title deeds through the Internet) is said to dramatically reduce the
time required for the consumer to access the deed, and lower corruption opportunities.
(Batchelor et al., 2003)
The three challenges in the above seem to be:
Inclusion of the public – The PRSP process in each country is intended to be a key
instrument for tackling the MDGs. A key tool within the PRSP process is participation,
which should include both consultation and debate. ICTs offer opportunities for the poor to
contribute to the formation of the PRSP – through talk-show radio, contacting their
representatives, etc. Where access to ICTs is weak, then inclusion of the public in the
formation of the PRSP may be hindered by lack of suitable mechanisms for consultation and
debate.
Information overloadofficials are beginning not to read their emails, and websites which
draw attention to vital lessons learned are buried. How will the planning processes include
the right stakeholders, and ensure they have real access to the key information?
Technical illiteracy (even at the highest levels). The pace of change with ICTs is so fast that
everyone involved with ICTs has to constantly update their skills and learn new approaches.
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Senior statesmen sometimes find it difficult to make use of, and to see the application of, the
new opportunities for ICTs – the cliché that the first PC in an organisation often sits unused
in the director’s office is often true.
How can ICTs contribute to efficiencies in service delivery?
Being results-orientated shifts our emphasis, and makes the question of efficiency more important
than before. The impact on the MDGs is defined by the context and the efficiencies gained. Whereas
judgement of progress has in the past been made on the amounts of inputs to a delivery sector, the
analysis required now must go beyond the inputs, even beyond apparent “project” efficiencies, to the
efficiencies of delivery service (results-orientated performance).
With regard to MDG 2, for instance, a series of surveys on children’s educational attainment at
the end of their primary education bore no relation to the amount spent per pupil. It was teacher
training, teacher experience, teacher evaluations, textbooks and the timing of the day that determined
pupils’ performance. These results thus call into question the accepted relationship between education
spending and earning potential, and hence that between education spending and poverty reduction.
Three years after traditional birth assistants in Iganga district in Uganda started using walkie-
talkies as an integral part of their work the maternal mortality dropped by 50%. (Skuse,
2004)
Thus when we discuss the role of ICTs in the efficiencies of service delivery, it poses a complex
question which cannot be answered with the results of a single pilot project. Lanvin and Qiang (2003)
discuss the role of ICTs in service delivery as a question of resource-allocation. They note that the
overall efficiencies are dependent on both ICT-related and non-ICT-related efficiencies, and that the
analysis should include the opportunity costs of a particular strategy. At national and local tiers of
government, ICTs can bring about the more efficient use, planning and targeting of the limited
resources for primary education. They can also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education
ministries and related bodies, but this has to be proven in the context of the overall service delivery.
As above in MDG2 and the educational sector, ICTs have begun to play a role in co-ordination of
resources within the health sector (MDGs 4, 5 and 6), in the ongoing training of health workers, and in
the monitoring of progress towards poverty reduction. Decentralisation in such countries as Uganda
has led to a more focussed and efficient use of resources, which has been communicated upstream by
use of the new technologies. There are clear case-study examples of data being gathered at district
level that have to be used in national planning, and the potential for ICTs to contribute to this flow of
data from district to national is substantial.
ICTs are already making a sizable contribution to MDG 4. Many childhood diseases are
preventable through vaccines or simply by better understanding of the causes. And ICTs often play a
key role in both. Radio-based awareness-raising is playing a crucial role in the fight against
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases. Tracking communicable diseases is becoming affordable
through the use of ICTs. ICTs, especially radio and TV, also make a major impact on the processes of
social change around HIV/AIDS, facilitating open communication, dialogue and debate. ICTs also
help reduce stigma around HIV/AIDS that leads to an uptake of voluntary counselling and testing.14
Yet the progress towards the MDGs that rely on service delivery (that is, MDGs 2, 4, 5 and 6) is
not based solely on delivery itself. It is related directly (beneficially or adversely) to livelihood
14 Skuse (2004).
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outcomes. For instance, a key challenge of education (MDG 2) is not only the effectiveness of
educational delivery when at school but actually in getting the child to school.
Voxiva is a telephone and computer database for health work in Peru. Health workers phone
to register communicable cases allowing planning and response, and workers gain advice
supporting their day to day work. (Batchelor et al., 2003)
The three key challenges regarding the above service delivery are:
Distribution of resources – there is generally not enough evidence to convince all
stakeholders that ICT-related efficiencies were/are more effective than those derived
elsewhere. Without such evidence decision-makers cannot make informed decisions.
Rapid changes in ICTs – the North is finding it has constantly to change and upgrade ICT
systems in order to maintain the efficiencies of service. For developing countries, what may
seem a state-of-the-art system this year may be out of date before everyone has been trained
in its use. The constant expense of upgrades should be factored into the initial cost-benefit
analysis. Further reflection on the trade-off with cost-drops and higher level of service would
bring practical benefits.
Capacity in effectively using ICT for development, not equipment, is often the main
constraint. Training programmes need to be in place for the effective use of ICTs. Having
said that, simple-to-use technology such as the phone has shown to be intuitive and human
capacity to be developed by “viral training”.15
How can ICTs contribute to the MDGS through livelihood enhancement?
MDGs 4, 5 and 6 will not be fulfilled uniquely through the delivery of better health care.
Health services play an important role in promoting and protecting health. But, in the long
term, economic security, education, nutrition, water, sanitation and the broader physical and
social environment are the arbiters of population health prospects. These factors tend to
move together. Their combined impact is illustrated by the well-known relationship between
income and infant mortality. (DFID, 2001)
Since the opportunities for ICTs are moved forward by the private sector (where and when there
is an enabling policy and regulatory environment), opportunities for “unplanned” efficiencies in
service delivery are often available for the public. For instance, rural health staff in Uganda have
found the phone allows them to request support, with a subsequent improvement in their activities.
Similarly, the availability of phones in rural Uganda also presents an opportunity for the rural poor.
These opportunities can benefit rural livelihoods or not as the case may be – they are opportunities and
as such they most likely will have a combination of beneficial and harmful effects. Pro-poor policies
should seek to ensure that the marginalised can take up the opportunities where they are beneficial to
them, and reduce the harmful affects where possible.
15 Digital convergence means that “telephones” are rapidly becoming gateways to various forms of
communication – they have synchronous and asynchronous voice transactions, text, images, video and
radio reception. And they are increasingly being used for financial transactions. Where the technology
is simple enough for “viral training” (that is, with neighbour teaching neighbour how to use), then
uptake by the poor seems to occur.
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With regard to MDG 1, for instance, Chapter 2 shows how infrastructure, agriculture and private-
sector development can work together with ICTs to bring about pro-poor growth in rural areas.
Telecommunications alone can change some aspects of the market, but it is the combination of the
developmental changes that lead to lasting effects.
The Southern Africa Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) uses a portal, consisting of a
website and Intranet, for coordination of field activities among partners in coffee, cocoa and
other tree crops. (USAID, 2004)
Similarly, with MDG 3, women, particularly those in developing countries, often do not benefit
from new technologies – a position which reflects the unequal power-relations in societies as a whole.
ICTs can be used to either exacerbate or transform unequal power-relations; they cannot create gender
equality, nor end poverty, but they can be powerful tools for social action and social change in the
right direction.
Box 8. Gender and ICTs
Recent studies in Africa show that there is near-equal use of the telephone by women as by men. Given
women's unequal status, this effectively means that the telephone has opened new opportunities and is
redressing some imbalances (McKemey et al., 2004). Telephones have been very effectively used by Grameen to
empower women in small businesses that serve their community (DAC POVNET 2004). There are some case
studies that suggest that ICTs open new economic opportunities for women by lowering the necessity of travelling
(Batchelor et al., 2003), although more research is required before this can be positively asserted.
It is possible that phones (and other simple to use ICT devices) may be used to open new
opportunities for women to communicate, learn and undertake economic activities.
With regard to MDG 7, and urban slum development in particular, recent studies show that slum
dwellers spend almost as much on communication as they do on energy – an indication that ICTs are a
high priority for the poor and are an essential tool for managing livelihood assets. Similarly, a number
of studies show that young people can develop productive work skills through use of ICTs.
Information and communication exchanges among the poor will be based on a mix of
technologies. It is the information and communication that is important for the MDGs and no one
technology should overshadow the use of other contextually appropriate ones.
The three key challenges for the above are:
Equal access therefore means equality of access – no penalty price for the poor. “For
ICT to have a positive development impact, the various social groups must have equal access
to them, particularly disadvantaged groups such as the poor, children and indigenous
people.”16 Recent studies on phone and radio use suggest that the marginalised can have
access to the technology but they may pay a higher price per unit of use.
Useful relevant content is a key requirement. Access to ICTs alone is not enough to fulfil
the MDGs. It is access to useful content that will contribute to MDG 1 (market prices, for
example), MDG 4 (mother-child health messages), MDG 7 (government policies on slum
16 CIDA in OECD (2003).
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development), MDG 8 (local job-opportunities for youth), anti-corruption (land-titles
availability), and empowerment (contribution to debates on media about the PRSP).
Creating an enabling environment that allows the poor to be creative – in Uganda, for
example, trading of airtime has already been developed by the public. This virtual currency
reduces transactions costs and risks within the country. It is relatively easy to say what
technologies will be available in five to ten years, but it is impossible to say how people will
use them. Spontaneous actions, such as the virtual trading in Uganda, require policy
environments that are flexible enough to support pro-poor response to ICT innovations.
Recommendations
This chapter has focused on the three key processes that lead to the MDGs. ICTs can enhance
these processes and experience has clearly shown some potential uses. The question for policy makers
is no longer whether ICT can be used or not – it can. The question is now: “Should it be used?”
We have to ask: “Which is the best strategy for enhancing livelihoods, for increasing delivery
efficiencies and for improving planning processes?” The question which follows closely is: “Is the
most effective strategy one that includes ICTs?” ICTs do not have to be treated as a separate path to
the MDGs but as a tool to enhance the key processes.
Having taken this approach, there remain some realities donors have to face:
Capacity in effectively using ICT for development and useful content are often the main
constraints, not equipment.
Therefore within the time frame of the MDGs (2015), digital devices with simple interfaces
will be the main tool in the field.
The private sector is instrumental in expanding ICT for development access, but other
players (governments, civil society, etc.) should lead on applications.
Development of “developmental” content on and through such devices should be a priority
for donors. This development should not occur in the “ICT sector”, but within the sector
responding – education, health, governance.
Incorporating ICTs into the planning of development interventions requires an analysis of
“with” and “without” scenarios, which in turn requires more rigorous analysis of the
possibilities of replicating and scaling current pilots.
In order to do a more rigorous analysis, more data are required on the linkages between the
use of ICT and their impact on the MDGs.
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REFERENCES
Batchelor, S., et al. (2003), ICT for Development Contributing to the Millennium Development Goals:
Lessons Learned from Seventeen InfoDev Projects, InfoDev, World Bank. Washington.
CIDA (2001), Cida’s Action Plan On Health And Nutrition. Canada.
Curtain, R. (2004), “Information and Communication technologies and Development: Help or
Hinderance?”, AusAID Virtual Colombo Plan. Australia.
DFID (2000), Better Health for Poor People: Strategies for Achieving the International Development
Targets. United Kingdom.
DFID (2001), The Challenge of Universal Primary Education: Strategies for Achieving the
International Development Targets. United Kingdom.
DFID (2002), The Significance of Information and Communication for Reducing Poverty. United
Kingdom.
Gerster, R. and S. Zimmermann (2003), Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for
Poverty Reduction, Discussion Paper, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
Switzerland.
Harris, R. (2004), “Information and Communication Technologies for Poverty Alleviation”, E-primer,
UNDP APDIP. New York.
IK Notes (2002), Maternal Health Care in Rural Uganda. Leveraging Traditional and Modern
Knowledge Systems.
IMF, OECD, UN, World Bank Group (2000), A Better World for All: Progress towards the
International Development Goals.
JICA (2003), “Promoting ICTs for Development. Japan’s Cooperation”.
www.jica.go.jp/english/index.html.
Lanvin and Qiang (2003), “Poverty ‘Eradication’: Using ICT to Meet MDGs: Direct and Indirect
Roles of E-Maturity” in Dutta, Lanvin and Paua (eds.), Global IT Report 2003–04, Oxford
University Press.
McNamara, K. (2003), “Information and Communication Technologies Poverty and Development:
Learning from Experience”, Background Paper, InfoDev Annual Symposium. Washington.
Morrison, C. (2002), “Health Education and Poverty Reduction, Policy Brief No. 19, OECD, Paris.
Mundy, J., A. Brown and V. Walford (2002), International Health Context Analysis, Swiss Agency
for Development and Cooperation. Switzerland.
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Myers, M. (2002), Institutional Review of Educational Radio Dramas, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia.
OECD (2001), The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction. Paris.
OECD (2003), Donor ICT Strategies Matrix, CD-ROM, Paris.
OECD (2004a), “Growth and the MDGs”, Discussion Document. Paris.
OECD (2004b), “Innovative Components for Effective Poverty Reduction: Project Examples”, Room
Document No. 4, Background Information for Session 2-b of the First Workshop of the DAC
Network on Poverty Reduction POVNET Task Team on Infrastructure for Poverty Reduction.
OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Paris.
OECD (2004c), “A Dialogue on ICTs and Poverty: The Harvard Forum”, DAC Network on Poverty
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SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation ) (2003), SDC Health Policy 2003–2010,
brochure. Switzerland.
Skuse, A. (2004), Voices of Change: Strategic Radio Support for Achieving the Millennium
Development Goals, DFID. United Kingdom.
UNESCO (2002), Education for All: An Achievable Vision, brochure. Paris.
USAID (2004), Information and Communication technology for Development: USAID’s Worldwide
Program, USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade. United States.
Wagstaff, A. (2002), Poverty and Health Sector Inequalities, Policy and Practice, WHO. Switzerland.
World Bank (2002), Dying for Change: Poor People’s Experience of Health and Ill-Health.
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World Bank (2003a), ICTs and Health, Brochure. Washington.
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World Bank (2004a), Poverty Reduction Strategy Sourcebook. Washington.
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 37
Chapter 4
Integrating ICTs into Development Co-operation
Introduction
The roles of ICTs in the economy, in the delivery sector and in development processes have been
discussed in previous Chapters, which showed that, just as poverty is multidimensional, so, too, the
role of ICTs is multidimensional. They emphasised that ICTs are a tool in the fight against poverty but
are not an end in themselves.
The papers drew attention to two key challenges:
ICTs are subject to a very rapid pace of change, which means that new opportunities
regarding ways of working, market development and livelihood practice have arisen in the
last few years; these may or may not lead to economic growth, and in particular poverty
reduction. New ways of working may contribute to achieving the MDGs but may also
distract valuable resources.
Because of that pace of change the effect of ICTs is (and has to be) constantly under
review, and there is a clear call for more data and analysis to try to understand the impact of
ICTs on the social and economic context.
Given the shortage of data on the impact of ICTs and the constantly changing scene, how can one
best discuss the integration of ICTs in development co-operation?
Are there ICT “lessons learned” or “good practice”?
Chapter 2 concluded that “one of the most appropriate ways to generate that data, and to act in
the interim, is to adhere to good practice in development co-operation by using the PRSP processes to
include an analysis and comment on the role of ICTs”. To achieve poverty reduction through the use
of ICTs, and a pro-poor growth of the economy, emphasis has to be placed on development co-
operation processes.
This paper draws on the responses of DAC members to requests for ICT “lessons learned” and
“good practice”, which can be found in the OECD document “ICTs for Development: Lessons
Learned and Good Practices”.17 Members agreed that in ICT, as with all development co-operation,
17 For ease of reading, information sources in the text are simplified to the names of DAC members
and/or development agencies. A full list of sources of information can be found in the OECD
document “ICTs for Development: Lessons Learned and Good Practices”. (OECD 2004a).
“OECD-DAC/SDC Meeting, Geneva, 2004” refers to “OECD-DAC/SDC Bilateral Donor Agencies
Meeting: Knowledge and People-centred Communication – Potentials and Pitfalls for Poverty
Reduction and Advancements of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, 1 September 2004,
Geneva, Switzerland. (OECD 2004g).
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success or failure depends more on developmental processes rather than the specifics of the co-
operation. Integrating ICTs into development co-operation is not, therefore, a special case, different
from all other development interventions. It must follow basic principles of development co-operation
good practice. These processes are summarised in The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction.18
Box 9. The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction
“Developing countries, with the support of multilateral institutions, the bilateral development assistance
community and civil society organisations, are focusing as never before on the development priority of reducing
poverty by half by 2015. Country-led and country-owned poverty reduction strategies focusing on local needs and
priorities as determined by stakeholders are now the focus of all development assistance efforts. The DAC
Guidelines Poverty Reduction provide practical information about the nature of poverty and best practice
approaches, policies, instruments and channels for tackling it. They also break new ground in setting out the
parameters for building effective partnerships with governments, civil society, and other development actors, and
in describing how institutional change and development within bilateral agencies themselves could be undertaken
for mainstreaming poverty reduction, partnership and policy coherence.”
Source: OECD (2001).
In the OECD-DAC Donor ICT Strategies Matrix,19 DAC members presented the following
principles:
Sustainable ICT projects should be locally owned and accompanied by human capacity
development (CIDA, Japan, Netherlands).
Capacity in effectively using ICTs for development is often the main constraint, not
equipment (majority of donors).
The private sector is instrumental in expanding ICTs for development access and
applications (USAID).
Governments play a key role in establishing a well-regulated, competitive enabling
environment for ICTs to flourish (CIDA, EC and majority of donors).
For ICTs to have a positive development impact, the various social groups must have equal
access to them, particularly disadvantaged groups such as the poor, children and indigenous
people (CIDA).
Many important aspects of information and communication infrastructure are cross-border in
nature, and therefore require international/regional co-operation (World Bank).
While these points (the emphasis is ours) are presented in the context of ICTs, the principles tend
to be what might be called “standard” principles of good practice in development co-operation –
ownership, capacity building, enabling environment, a focus on social equality, and multi stakeholder
co-operation. Perhaps the one exception to a commonly held development principle is the role of the
private sector – an issue which is still under much discussion in the development community.
18 OECD (2001), The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction, OECD. Paris (ISBN 92-64-19506-8).
19 OECD (2003b).
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Integrating the principles of development co-operation with ICTs
Bringing together the conclusions of previous chapters, the experience of DAC members
involved in ICTs, and the key principles captured in The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction
(representing lessons learned from the wider development community), we can identify six principles
of good practice to be discussed:
Principles The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction
Ownership and Participation “Empowering the poor” “The principles underpinning this vision
are – partnership, ownership, country leadership, broad-based
participation, development effectiveness and accountability”
Co-ordination and Collaboration “Forging effective poverty reduction partnerships”
Capacity Building “Strengthening partners’ own capacities to reduce poverty should
be an overriding objective for technical co-operation.”
Sustainability “Support partner efforts to promote sustainable pro-poor growth,
reduce inequality and increase their shares of global trade and
investment flows.”
Monitoring and Evaluation “Assess development co-operation for its impact on poverty and
develop the requisite monitoring and evaluation systems and
methodologies.”
Appropriateness Ensuring that the partner country’s poverty reduction strategy is
legitimate, adequate and appropriate.
In order to structure this chapter on integrating ICTs in development co-operation, we will
consider how each of these six key principles can be applied to the five points of ICT engagement in
the framework for economic growth identified in Chapter 2.
ICT support for drivers of growth.
ICT enhancing efficiencies in specific sectors.
ICT complementing specific pro-poor growth activities.
ICT direct enhancement of poor livelihoods.
ICT used to address barriers to growth.
The logic used in drawing up this framework for discussion is represented in Figure 3.
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Figure 3. Framework for discussing principles of development co-operation
The matrix in Figure 4 summarises some of the projects undertaken by DAC members that relate
specifically to the key working principles and the ICT points of engagement. Where examples of
projects are given, they are intended only to be indicative of the type of intervention that may result of
the integrated use of ICTs and do not necessarily suggest that the quoted project is recognised by all
DAC members as good practice.
The discussion is presented as the current state of DAC members’ knowledge – to be refined and
evolved as new information and experience is encountered. Not all DAC members have reached the
same stage in using ICTs for development. The process of identifying the key principles is important
for all DAC members, both pioneers and newcomers. It helps pioneers focus on what works while
allowing less-experienced donors to benefit from past experience instead of having to reinvent the
wheel.
Who decides? (ownership and participation)
Planning for economic growth
The planned development of ICT for economic growth will depend not so much on knowing the
exact economic equation but on the processes of ownership and participation surrounding policy
development.
Economic growth depends on many variables, of course, and it is the enabling environment that
will determine how the control of these variables is divided between the public and private sectors.
The OECD-DAC Donor ICT Strategies Matrix suggests that the private sector should be given the
larger role in ICT infrastructure development – although this conclusion is based on the premise that
there are enough data to identify the linkages between ICTs and the factors of economic growth, and
the direction of the cause and effect. For a number of reasons, this linkage is not yet clear.
- ICT support for drivers of
Growth
- ICT enhancing efficiencies in
specific sectors
- ICT complementing specific
Pro-Poor Growth activities
- ICT direct enhancement of
Poor Livelihoods
- ICT used to address barriers
- Ownership and Participation
- Co-ordination Collaboration
- Capacity Building
- Sustainability
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Appropriateness
Therefore, need to
consider The DAC
Guidelines Poverty
Reduction (and
associated
literature) and
relate them to the
multiple roles of
ICT in economic
growth and poverty
reduction to derive
principles for
integration of ICTs
in Development
Co-operation.
Experience
with ICTs
suggests they
are subject to
the same good
practice
processes of
development
as other
development
activities.
Reference to
Donor ICT
Matrix
Consultation
with DAC
members
Case
Studies of
Pilot ICT
projects
- ICT support for drivers of
Growth
- ICT enhancing efficiencies in
specific sectors
- ICT complementing specific
Pro-Poor Growth activities
- ICT direct enhancement of
Poor Livelihoods
- ICT used to address barriers
- Ownership and Participation
- Co-ordination Collaboration
- Capacity Building
- Sustainability
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Appropriateness
Therefore, need to
consider The DAC
Guidelines Poverty
Reduction (and
associated
literature) and
relate them to the
multiple roles of
ICT in economic
growth and poverty
reduction to derive
principles for
integration of ICTs
in Development
Co-operation.
Experience
with ICTs
suggests they
are subject to
the same good
practice
processes of
development
as other
development
activities.
Reference to
Donor ICT
Matrix
Consultation
with DAC
members
Case
Studies of
Pilot ICT
projects
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 41
Figure 4. Framework matrix and example projects
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42
The causal relationship between productivity and ICTs is still under debate. ICTs and Economic
Growth in Developing Countries20 reviewed the evidence for links between ICTs, productivity and
economic growth in OECD countries set out in ICT and Economic Growth: Evidence from OECD
Countries, Industries and Firms,21 concluding with recommendations for action by the governments of
developing countries that will facilitate ICT investment and positive returns, focused on policy
development processes, infrastructure and access, liberalisation and deregulation, and human capital.
Among other conclusions, ICTs and Economic Growth in Developing Countries stated that
“Government policy priorities should be to reduce the factors that inhibit the effective use of ICTs and
take positive steps that will enable maximisation of the benefits that can be derived from ICTs,
integrating ICT policy more effectively into overall national socio-economic development strategies”.
Other conclusions in that paper point to the lack of data or evidence on the links between ICTs
and productivity, and the importance of analysing such data in the economic context, which is very
different for LLDCs and G8 countries. It is likely that the coming few years will see some clarification
of the interface between the enabling environment (and the role of the government in it), and the
development of ICT infrastructure that supports economic growth processes. Good practice in
development co-operation will be to create a culture of learning among government and private
sector bodies, in order to feed data into what is currently an unmapped environment.
For instance, the Fair Access to Internet Report22 has tentatively revealed two aspects of policy
environment that seem to be very important lessons for decision-makers. In a comparison of policy
environment and access to ICTs, it noted that the lack of a policy environment in Algeria led to the
development of relatively small-scale private-sector initiatives that have lowered the cost of access to
ICTs – and that the forthcoming tightening of the policy environment may well reduce access. It also
identified that Uganda, which has had a seemingly positive enabling environment for ICTs (in
comparison with many of its neighbours) had not resulted in significantly better access and lower
costs. The lesson here is not that the policy environment has not had its intended impact, since the
research is only tentative and requires confirmation. Rather, the lesson to be learned is from the
response of the government – when the results of the paper were seen, the regulator immediately asked
the experts what more could be done to improve the enabling environment, heard their answers and
took action within months of the study being published.
This is an illustration of good practice in development co-operation: donor-funded research was
owned by local researchers who were able to present results to national decision-makers. They then
entered into dialogue that resulted in positive changes in the enabling environment.
Who should mention ICTs in national planning processes?
Development good practice states that the planning process should be owned by the national
government.23
20 OECD (2004h).
21 OECD (2003a).
22 Gillwald et al. (2004).
23 The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction.
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ICT can and has both a positive and negative role in a developing economy. The last ten
years have been dominated by an international discussion of whether the rapid changes in
ICTs will exacerbate the North-South divide or be a powerful tool to combat poverty. Much
will depend on how the development community exploits its potentialities. (Austria)
An important element in maximising the efficiencies for economic growth is the role of planning
frameworks for economic strategies. These form the enabling environment for not only the
development of the ICT infrastructure but also the development of applications and services.
Interventions that seek to create enabling environments so that ICTs can have an influence on the
economic processes of growth should be demand-driven. Developing/transition countries should be
enabled to determine if and how ICTs are a priority for their social and economic development.
The key instruments would seem to be the Country Development Programming Frameworks
(CDPF) process, as well as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Some DAC members say it is essential
for developing countries to have clear strategies to promote ICTs on a national scale and to coordinate
with other countries on a regional basis (Japan/JICA). But a recent review of 33 first-generation
PRSPs as of January 2004 stated that ICTs were explicitly mentioned in only a few cases.24 Other
countries did not include ICTs as an independent strategic component although they mention
telecommunications-sector development as an “important factor for rural/agricultural development” or
as “one of the components of the infrastructure for economic growth”.
Incorporating ICTs into the planning frameworks is not an easy or obvious process. Their
presence in the PRSP depends on the awareness of the decision-makers to the potential offered by
ICTs. It should also depend on a rigorous analysis of the relative costs of different approaches – and
that is hampered by the lack of data already mentioned and the rapidly changing landscape of ICT
applications. Telecommunications can have an impact on rural livelihoods – but their role may not
always be recognised as important enough to be mentioned in a crowded PRSP or CDPF.
This distinction between ICTs as an infrastructure and as a tool to achieve efficiency gains in
other sectors is important to understanding their role in the development picture. Financing ICTs for
Development: Efforts of DAC Members25 clearly shows that ODA commitments to ICT infrastructure
have declined from USD1.2 billion in 1990 to USD194 million in 2002. Yet many donors have
simultaneously integrated ICT components into their development programmes. For example, the
health and family-planning sector programme in Vietnam (supported by German financial co-
operation) comprises, among other things, the establishment of a computer-based logistical
management system to improve stock-keeping, order-processing and the distribution and monitoring
of drug flows. Such a programme would not stand out on either official ODA statistics nor on national
plans (PRSP) as an “ICT programme” and yet ICTs have been one of the keys for improving
efficiency.
In many cases there is an increasing call for specific ICT planning documents with national
coverage, such as e-strategy or ICT analysis documents. For instance, UNECA has proposed that the
National Information and Communication Infrastructure Policies and Plans (e-strategies) (the NICI)
24 Room Document, “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Poverty Reduction Strategy
Papers (PRSPs) as of January 2004”, at the DCD Seminar “A Dialogue on ICTs and Poverty
Reduction: The Harvard Forum”, held on 7 July 2004, OECD Paris. It was prepared by Mr. Naomichi
Murooka, currently infrastructure specialist at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
25 OECD (2005).
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can be undertaken as a national response to facilitate the digital inclusion of Africa and its integration
into the globalisation process. This will also provide countries with an exercise for developing national
ICT policies and strategies and implementable programmes, provide a guiding framework for
integrating ICTs into national development programmes, and be a monitoring and evaluation tool of
the role of ICTs in national development.26 The emphasis here, though, is that the NICI can follow
only after the national priorities have been established, and the NICI must be within the context of the
development policy framework.
What, in these circumstances, is good practice in development co-operation? We know that it is
important to some DAC members that the development community encourage partners in
developing/transition countries to take the lead to reflect their own priorities, rather than the priorities
of donors (CIDA). On the other hand some donors suggest “incorporating ICT in Country and
Regional Strategy Papers will ensure ownership by the country or the region concerned as well as
differentiation and prioritisation according to the needs and policy situation” (EC).
Using ICTs to give a voice in national planning processes
The intersection of good practice development co-operation (ownership and participation) and
ICTs suggests what ought to be done. The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction suggest that the key
elements for empowering the poor include:
ICTs and key elements of empowering the poor
Strengthening popular
participation in
formulating and
implementing policy
and in assessing impact
Here ICT has a role in the very process of formulating the policies that
strengthen its development. In a suitable socio-political environment,
radio is a proven mechanism for generating discussion of policies. The
increasing use of the telephone combines with community radios to offer
a forum for public discussion and opinion. “Such changes will not occur
purely as a result of discussions and decisions within the offices of
governmental, multilateral or private funders. The media and civil society
also play an important role” (Panos, 2004).
Promoting democratic
and accountable
governance and
transparency
Even the humble photocopier has had an impact on government
transparency all over the world. Documents have been made available
where otherwise they would have been too expensive to distribute (Riley,
2001).
Promoting human
rights and the rights of
marginalised groups
The voice of groups based in outlying regions away from the seat of
government can be much enhanced by ICTs.
Increasing the scope for
civil society interaction
and freedom of
association
MDG 8 notes the role of partnerships, and ICTs have taken a role in the
formation of national and international partnerships that have increased
the scope of civil society interaction.
Supporting a free press The freedom of the press is a socio-political outcome, but the role of ICT
in making that voice widely known is well known.
Reinforcing the rule of
law and the impartial
administration of justice
ICTs have been used to create efficiencies within the judicial system, and
to develop human capacity among the legal system.
../.
26 SCAN-ICT, UNECA (2004).
GOOD PRACTICE PAPER ON ICTs FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY REDUCTION – © OECD 2005 45
Promoting decent work
conditions Advocacy and lobbying through ICTs, particularly the visual
broadcasting of working conditions internationally, has certainly
influenced a number of economies.
Giving the poor more
voice and control over
the type, quality and
delivery of services they
receive
The role of the telephone to increase delivery of services to remote areas,
the role of the radio in health education and agricultural extension, and
the role of the press in highlighting failing services are all well known.
The rapid change of ICTs can offer new opportunities for the poor to have
a lobbying voice – although the outcome of the lobbying will be
determined by a much bigger number of variables.
Box 10. e-Justice
The e-Justice programme in South-Africa is a multi-year programme designed to support fundamental
reforms necessary to establish a more fair, accessible and efficient system of justice there. The pilot e-Justice
programme was introduced to particularly deal with problems relating to missing files. Electronic versions of
dockets27 are created in cases of stolen or missing dockets so as to prevent matters from being withdrawn from
the court roll.
Similarly, English-speaking Caribbean countries have set themselves the task of creating a communications
environment through which lawyers may contact and exchange information with branches of the judiciary, engage
in dialogue and co-ordinate activities. The countries have applied through the Inter-American Development Bank
for support from the Italian Government.
An e-Justice system makes it possible to analyse and catalogue the whole canon of judicial material (laws,
decrees and sentences). With better access, interested parties acquire the capacity to correlate the judicial
material with information from other actors, especially the courts. The system will make judicial procedures more
efficient and lower costs. In addition to making it possible to share information and disseminate know-how, e-
Justice will also make the system more “coherent”, i.e. less dependent on personal interpretation, and therefore
fairer.
Details at : www.doj.gov.za/2004dojsite/b_ism/ejustice/20040712_ejustice%20profile.htm;
www.innovazione.gov.it/eng/egov4dev/areegeografiche/caraibi_p1.shtml.
ICTs are a tool that can facilitate development good practicee.g. awareness of issues, lobbying
for change and participation in the formation of economic strategies. Good practice in development
co-operation will seek to apply tools where appropriate to achieve the goal of ownership and
participation in planning frameworks.
ICT enhancing specific pro-poor activities
More pro-poor growth can be achieved by adopting policies and programmes that enable poor
people to access human, physical and financial assets that can increase their productivity and incomes
– for example, enhanced social services (particularly education and health), land-tenure reform and
micro-finance schemes.28
27 “Dockets” mean the sum of legal documents for a particular case.
28 The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction.
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In terms of ICTs which complement specific activities intended to reduce poverty, we return to
the role of the economic-planning frameworks. In order to realise the potential contribution to pro-
poor growth offered by ICTs, the integration of ICTs into PRSPs will be critical.
ICT can fulfil several Pro-Poor functions: Enabling an activity to be undertaken, perhaps by
reducing costs so that something can be done which would previously have been too
expensive; playing a facilitating role in support of development objectives in which ICT per
se may not be significant; creating the opportunity for a development activity, which was
not previously technically feasible; disseminating knowledge or expertise; allowing
adaptation to local needs. (EC)
The inclusion of ICT in PRSPs needs to consider specifically how the integration of ICTs in
pro-poor strategies results in a strong poverty focus for ICT development rather than the
identification of ICT dissemination as a priority for poverty reduction. (Ireland)
The development of expertise and technological innovation in developing countries cannot be left
to the market alone. It is up to the government and NGOs to ensure that the poor can also benefit from
ICTs wherever possible. This can be done by formulating policies with stakeholders that
specifically focus on the interests of the poor, by encouraging network operators to channel some
of their investments towards regions that are less commercially attractive, by encouraging and
co-financing ICT applications that will directly benefit the poor, such as information points in
local community centres, and by investing in ICT applications in the public sector – for example,
in education and health care (Netherlands).
The strategy paper “CIDA’s Strategy on Knowledge for Development through Information and
Communication Technologies”29 notes that, as women and girls typically have unequal access to ICT,
appropriate attention must be paid, through sound gender analysis, to gender equality, to the value of
women’s knowledge, and to the importance of integrating women into the information society at all
levels and in all sectors. DAC members are reminded that addressing the needs of the poor and
marginalised, particularly women and girls, is vital,30 and may require special programmes such as the
USAID Women in Technology Program.
As we saw above, while PRSPs may include statements and targets on the poverty focus of ICTs,
it is the very demand of PRSPs for widespread public consultation on priorities which is one of their
most distinctive features, and this can be strongly enhanced by the use of the media and ICTs. PRSPs
are being seen by the donor community as key drivers in broadening participation in and expression
through ICTs (Denmark). Similarly, ICTs can be used to enhance the application of other pro-poor
activities (e.g. the use of ICTs in water projects (Netherlands)) and to gain information that can help
pro-poor reforms in sectors such as health-service delivery. With the Albanian Patient Care
Management System we note that the ICTs provide information for health-sector reform, putting
participation and ownership in the hands of the poor.31 One of the expressions of globalisation is
decentralisation, and where decentralised decision-making increases in pro-poor services, ICTs will
play an increasingly important role in co-ordination.
29 Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (2003). Details at: www.acdi-
cida.gc.ca/INDEX-E.HTM.
30 Consultation with DFID, 2004.
31 Details at: www.phrplus.org/countries_alb.html.
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Box 11. Cisco Networking Academy Scholarship Program
The Women in Technology, Cisco Networking Academy Scholarship program, sponsored by the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), and administered by the Institute of International
Education (IIE) provides scholarship awards to women from target countries to attend the Cisco Networking
Academy Program, earning them a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certificate.
The Cisco Networking Academy Program is a comprehensive global training program that teaches students
to design, build, and maintain computer networks, preparing them for industry-standard certification as
networking professionals. The program teaches students valuable Internet technology skills, including
networking, Web design, IT Essentials, Cabling, Java and UNIX. It combines instructor-led, online learning with
hands-on laboratory exercises where students apply what they learn in class while working on actual networks.
In addition to networking and other technology skills, the program helps students improve math, science,
writing, and problem-solving abilities and competencies. The Cisco Networking Academy Program is helping to
transform education while preparing youth and adults around the world for career opportunities in Information
Technology. The program equips women with marketable high-tech skills essential to participation in the Internet
economy, breaks down socio-cultural barriers for women participating in IT careers, and provides women access
to skills and employment with which they can both contribute to the development of the IT sector in their countries
and ensure their own economic development.
Details at: www.iie.org/wcoast/wit.html.
Box 12. ICTs and agriculture
ICTs have been used to provide farmers and fishermen access to information on weather, soil and crops,
as well as up-to-date market and commodity prices. ICTs have also been used to create water maps, enabling
villages to estimate monthly demand for water and its availability from various sources, as well as enabling the
development of additional water sources and suggesting the allocation of available water in the event of
shortages. Another programme can analyse and interpret long-term data to predict pest attacks one week in
advance. The majority of these agricultural programmes are funded through a collaborative effort by government
agencies, research organisations and NGOs.
Details at: www.riia.org/index.php?id=324 (The Royal Institute of International Affairs).
Box 13. PHRplus project in Albania
The PHRplus Project in Albania provides technical assistance to support the government of Albania to
implement health reform. The project approach is a bottom-up, pilot-based effort to produce evidence for
informed decision-making, both locally and centrally. The project objective is to demonstrate a sustainable model
for the delivery of primary health care at modest cost for replication in Albania. PHRplus’ Health Information
System (HIS) has provided valuable information for the four primary-health-care sites using the system. Since
July 2002, data from over 90,000 encounters have been collected and analysed. In April 2004, the local
government asked for technical assistance from PHRplus to implement a similar system in all the urban centres
in Berat and Kuçova. The health projects have also made use of Geographical Information System (GIS) in
presenting project activities and data collected through their Health and Management Information Systems.
PHRplus anticipates using GIS applications to graphically display information from the primary care Health
Information System.
Details at: www.phrplus.org/countries_alb.html.
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ICTs, livelihoods and ownership
We have noted above the role ICTs can play in giving a voice to the poor in debates that shape
planning frameworks. Finally for this section on ownership and participation, we note the role of ICTs
in giving the poor more choice in their livelihood options. The essence of the Sustainable Livelihoods
Framework (SLF) (DFID 200432), which has become a framework for analysing the situation of the
poor, is that there are three sets of factors that directly influence the choice of a livelihood. The degree
of vulnerability cannot often directly be changed by the poor, although measures can be taken to
mitigate its impact on their lives. The capital assets of the poor include not only tangible items covered
by physical, natural and financial assets but also social and human capital. The balance between these
assets is a key factor in the choice of livelihood. Finally, the institutional context can restrict or enable
various livelihood options. The SLF brings these factors together to create an analytical framework
proposing the livelihoods that people choose – enabling planners to determine the possible impact of a
change in any one component of the framework.
Some commentators have suggested that the model is too reliant on external factors, and that it
should include internal, personal motivation as a distinct factor influencing choices.33 However,
despite its limitations, the framework in its commonly used form does indeed recognise that whatever
livelihood strategy is chosen, it is a choice made by the people, for the people. Development co-
operation good practice states that it is important to allow beneficiaries to assess what is relevant to
them (Sida), and thereby own the introduction of ICTs into their livelihood strategy.
Giving voice to the poor and helping them apply knowledge is a key element of combating
poverty. (DFID)
It is therefore the direct participation of the population and ownership of projects and new
market opportunities that must be ensured. (EC)
Contents of projects must reflect the people-centered approach. (Japan/JICA)
In conclusion, we recognise that there remains a lack of evidence of the value of ICTs to
economic development in LDCs. This, and the diverse nature of ICTs, can make it difficult to
incorporate ICTs specifically into national planning processes. ICTs can nonetheless help enable
economic and social transformation through empowerment of the poor where their use is integrated
into planning processes, but only in a conducive policy and regulatory environment which provides
for ownership and participation. ICTs themselves cannot create ownership and participation
where other factors are not in place although they can support a virtuous cycle where government
openness to ownership and participation in planning frameworks can be supported by ICTs – and in
turn the open regulatory framework can create new opportunities for ICT services.
Who works together? (co-ordination and collaboration – multi-stakeholder)
In The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction, much emphasis is put on forging effective poverty-
reduction partnerships. The subject of collaboration and partnerships has to a certain extent been
covered by the above discussion on ownership and participation. It is about empowerment of the poor,
of “dialogue with and beyond government”, of “marshalling all potential partners to ensure ownership,
sustainability and effectiveness”.
32 Details at. www.livelihoods.org.
33 Batchelor (2002).
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ICT supporting the virtuous participation cycle
Figure 5. The virtuous cycle of ownership and participation supported by ICTs
Pro-Poor Planning Frameworks
Use of ICTs to
communicate and
participate
Improved access
to ICTs
Formed by
the people
for the
people
Local Participation and Ownership
Create
Opportunities
for
Participation
Co-ordination and collaboration have nonetheless been identified as one of the key principles of
good practice for integration of ICTs in development co-operation since ICTs have made the way
possible for more effective national and international communication. Future development
collaboration at all five points of engagement on the ICT axis should be specifically co-ordinated, and
the opportunities now offered by ICTs for that co-ordination should be maximised.
In order to ensure ownership and participation, DAC members should encourage multi-
stakeholder partnerships and ensure sufficient collaboration. Like ICTs themselves, multi-
stakeholder partnerships are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.
The focus should be on the strategic combination of complementary resources and competencies
of each stakeholder with a shared focus and trust.34
ICT collaboration between agencies and actors
We have noted above that DAC members should collaborate and co-operate to maximise the
effectiveness of their development co-operation. When we consider pro-poor interventions, that co-
ordination and collaboration should take place in not only at headquarters but also in the field.
34 Summary Record OECD-DAC/SDC Meeting, Geneva, 2004. (OECD 2004g).
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But who will drive this collaboration and co-ordination? Unless there are in place other factors
that drive collaboration and co-ordination no one will use the tool that ICTs offer – the tool itself
cannot provoke and ensure collaboration. In some cases, such as Japan, co-ordination with donors and
international organisations has become one of five principles of their development strategy. If such a
principle is in place and the political will is available to drive collaboration, how can the opportunities
offered by ICTs be maximised?
How can DAC members organise to ensure ICTs are used throughout development co-operation?
Experience suggests that ICTs are often most successfully used within an organisation when
championed by a senior individual. Usually that individual is enthusiastic about the technology and/or
a vision of how it may be best applied. Such individuals tend to be self-selecting but, when they
emerge, can be helped to become more effective by being given knowledge, support and decision-
making scope (Denmark). If ICTs are to be integrated into development co-operation for pro-poor
interventions, it may be necessary to cultivate and support such champions. Some agencies have
established a group of in-house specialists for ICTs for development. Experience to date suggests that
groups of this sort can be useful in preventing predominantly hardware-oriented approaches, and can
assist agencies to consider the information and communication needs of a programme (Japan/JBIC).
It is important to emphasise that the experience so far suggests that an “ICT group” must have
channels of access into mainstream development co-operation, and not be an isolated department
undertaking only ICT projects. A balance must be struck between pilot projects that make innovative
use of ICTs to explore developmental efficiencies, and mainstreaming where proven applications are
used to realise the efficiencies that bring the development community closer to achieving the MDGs.
“Development Communication” as a discipline has been available to the development community for
many years – for supporting health work, rural extension, community development, etc. It is important
that information about ICTs does not get overwhelmed or bypassed by their mere technological
wizardry.
Experience seems to suggest that a good model is to create a pool of ICT expertise that can be
drawn on as required. Several DAC members suggest that by having a team of specialists, based either
in the field or at headquarters, who themselves do not have a budget for projects, the call for ICT
expertise is demand-led and proven by a willingness to pay among programme managers.
For instance, the USAID/Tanzania “I-Team” demonstrates how ICTs have been incorporated into
the day-to-day operations within USAID.35
Box 14. USAID/Tanzania “I-Team”
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) holds great potential for furthering USAID/Tanzania's
development objectives. To capitalize on this potential, the Mission is implementing the ICT Initiative, which will
fully integrate ICT into USAID/Tanzania operations, projects and programs. The Initiative is first focusing
internally, working to build internal ICT capabilities and awareness; develop a Mission Communications Program;
and develop a Mission ICT Strategy. These activities will serve as a springboard for the Mission to integrate ICT
into its development programs and operations. To facilitate and coordinate the Initiative, the Mission has formed
an ICT team (“I-Team”), consisting of internal representatives from each USAID office or team (e.g. health,
natural-resource management). These team members serve the dual purpose of bringing knowledge of, and
seeking synergies between, office/team needs and activities in relation to ICT; and taking knowledge gained
through “I-Team” activities and capabilities back to their respective office or team.
35 Details at: www.usaid.gov/tz/ppg7.html.
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Do we have the skills? (capacity building)
As the extract of The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction below suggests, development
co-operation very much depends on the capacity, human and institutional, for its implementation.
The intersection between ICTs and capacity building includes four main points:
Building capacity within the DAC community for collaboration and multi-stakeholder
partnerships (as described above)
Building capacity for handling Information and Communication Technology
Building capacity for the flow of information and communication within development
co-operation
Using ICTs to build capacity within development co-operation for any subject area.
Building capacity through strategic partnerships
Capacity building is now recognised as critical to the effectiveness of development co-operation.
The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction set out the following priorities (among others) for bilateral
agencies working with partners to reduce poverty:
Work more intensively to develop human and institutional capacity in partner countries.
Ensure a gender perspective in all policies, programmes and instruments.
Assess development co-operation for its impact on poverty and develop the requisite
monitoring and evaluation systems and methodologies.
Foster and strengthen local capacities to monitor poverty-reduction programmes and the use
of external and domestic resources in the context of debt relief programmes.
Encourage the development of local poverty-reduction indicators and targets – and
strengthen local statistical, analytical, monitoring and evaluation capacity.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) can be an effective tool. Perhaps one of the most effective
of them has been the clearing house for information – the Global Knowledge Partnership36 (GKP),
although even the GKP notes that MSPs are not suitable for all situations.
It is crucial to define the roles, responsibilities and expectations of each partner.37
The CIDA, like a majority of donors, recognises the importance of engaging in global and
international policy dialogue to share knowledge and best practices and to influence policy work in
the ICT sector. ICTs themselves can assist in this co-operation and collaboration. The establishment of
an independent, non-profit organisation such as The International Institute for Communication and
Development (IICD) might be considered as a good practice that donors could replicate in the future
(The International Institute for Communication and Development, Netherlands).
36 www.globalknowledge.org.
37 Summary Record OECD-DAC/SDC Meeting, Geneva, 2004. (OECD 2004g).
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Box 15. International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)
The International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) assists developing countries to
realise locally owned sustainable development by harnessing the potential of information and communication
technologies (ICTs). IICD works with its partner organisations in selected countries, helping local stakeholders to
assess the potential uses of ICTs in development. They also strengthen the capacities of the local partners to
formulate, implement and manage development policies and projects that make use of ICTs. The philosophy is
that ICTs are tools that can contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation. However, this only
applies when ICTs are supporting existing development activities. Therefore, they focus on “traditional”
development sectors, such as education, governance, health, livelihood opportunities (especially agriculture) and
environment.
Details at: www.iicd.org.
Building capacity for handling information and communication technology
With respect to ICTs at almost any point along our spectrum of engagement, if the enabling
environment is on the agenda and the private sector is expressing interest in the opportunities for
infrastructure and service provision, the process of realising the agenda and the opportunities still
very much depends on the capacity of developing/transition countries to take up those opportunities.
Capacity building is held to be central at all stages.
For example, regulators must to keep up to date with the rapid pace of technological change and
evolving commercial opportunities, the private sector requires the human capacity to implement and
maintain services, and customers (from the public, private and informal sectors) have to be able to use
services.
Note that the actual requirements of capacity building are strongly determined by the technology
used and its appropriateness. For instance, semi-literate users all over the world are “capable” of using
telephones (and SMS). This introduces Principle 6 – Is it appropriate?
Box 16. Cases of building capacity for ICTs
Makerere University in Uganda is the host institution for the African-led network of institutions actively
strengthening African expertise involved in setting ICT-related policy. Makerere University Faculty of Law
(MUKLAW) is a member of the partnership establishing the Collaboration for International ICT Policy for Eastern
and Southern Africa (CIP ESA) and is hosting CIP ESA.
Details at: www.makerere.ac.ug.
NetTel@Africa seeks to strengthen the capabilities of policy-making and regulatory bodies, private-sector
operators, consumer advocacy groups and academic institutions that can assist with sustained capacity building
in the ICT sector.
Details at: www.nettelafrica.org.
Building capacity for the flow of information and communication within development co-operation
For information provision to be useful in pro-poor activities, organisations, individuals and
communities require the ability to use, maintain and fully benefit from the information and
communication opportunities (CIDA). The ability to use them is to a certain extent based on the
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technology, but not wholly so. Development communication is a discipline in itself, and the flow of
information and communication must be considered regardless of the specifics of the technology. Can
people find the information they require, and is it appropriate? How does the information affect their
lives? Do they trust the source?
Using ICTs to build capacity within development co-operation for any subject area
ICTs also offer new opportunities for building capacity – both in ICTs themselves, but more
importantly in supporting other general drivers of economic growth by building capacity in other
sectors. Many DAC members note that it is the capacity to produce and use knowledge and
information that is an important driver of growth, and this capacity has to be developed. ICTs can act
as an instrument and resource for capacity-building, innovation, information exchange, transparency
and accountability (Ireland).
Good governance has been identified as a driver of change, as the example of the e-Justice
programme in South-Africa illustrates. Similarly, the instance of the University of South Pacific in
co-operation with Japan, New Zealand and Australia is an example of educational interventions that
support an inclusive environment.
Box 17. University of the South Pacific (USP)
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific Region,
and an international centre of excellence for teaching and research on all aspects of Pacific culture and
environment. The catchment area for the University of the South Pacific is enormous, stretching across 33 million
square kilometres of ocean and five time-zones. The university is considered a pioneer in the field of distance-
learning. Its own satellite link, USPNet, allows students on remote islands to follow lectures on its main campus
in real-time. “Normally people would have to travel to a main urban area or in the case of degree study, they
would have to travel to the main campus”, says Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Chandra. “They would either
have to go to another island or another country to study. With this new system, you will have access to education
in your own village, in your own home and with the flexibility that you study when you want to study.” The
University aims to deliver all courses in this way by 2020. But its ability to fulfil that dream depends partly on the
expansion of telephone and internet services throughout the Pacific. Some 700 out of the 900 villages in the Fiji
Islands – one of the region's more developed states – still lack a basic telephone service.
Details at: www.usp.ac.fj/dfl.
Will the situation continue? (sustainability)
DAC members are committing themselves to work with more resolve to reduce poverty in
solidarity with poor people and in the interests of securing universal human rights. They will be
working to ensure the centrality of sustainable poverty reduction in development co-operation and to
integrate economic, social, environmental and governance concerns within comprehensive approaches
to development at the country level.38
Given the nature of the role of ICTs in development co-operation – keeping the enabling
environment in place, encouraging private-sector provision of ICT services and putting in place the
capacity to take up the new opportunities – complying with the above statement is like aiming at a
continually moving target; it is necessary to adapt continuously to a rapidly changing context. ICT is
one of the fastest changing sectors in the world, with new technologies continually being developed.
38 The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction.
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The capacity of the world to use the potential of ICTs is continually changing, often in unexpected
ways. For instance, Africa has one of the lowest provisions of telephones per person in the world, yet
research suggests that up to 80% of households in typical rural districts make some regular use of
telephones. If one had discussed this even four years ago, virtually no one would have believed that
the mobile phone would have had such a rapid uptake in Africa.
The outcome of projects should be built to last, avoiding over-dependence on external
resources. Nevertheless, some DAC members point out that donors should seek to eliminate a
mentality that does not extend donor-supported ICT initiatives beyond the pilot stage. Donors and
international organisations should take a longer-term and a clearly sustainable approach to ICTs for
development. At the same time donors should be cognisant of the fact that sustainability introduces a
series of complexities that are not inherent in simpler pilot-project initiatives (CIDA).
This pace of change is a challenge for DAC members (Japan/JICA). The world itself is being
changed as a result of ICTs. The knowledge of the donor community on how ICTs should be used for
the benefit of developing countries is likewise changing. This makes considerable demands in terms of
continuous organisational learning and an open attitude (Sida). In order for DAC members to provide
gradual step-by-step support, they should continuously renew their own information systems to be
aware of technological innovation and its implications (Japan/JBIC). In particular DAC members
noted that the project cycle is too long to respond correctly to a swiftly changing scene.
Finally, it is worth remembering that ICTs for development issues have to be considered in a
broader development context (SDC). It is essential to use the UN Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) to ensure ICT programming targets the poor. Poverty is not about the lack of basic needs like
money, housing or food. It is about a recurring cycle where individuals and communities lack
influence and are unable to make the appropriate choices for themselves because of their lack of
access to knowledge, because of their inability to access government and other social services, etc.
This cycle has to be broken. It is obvious that ICTs can have a particularly significant impact towards
the sustainable breaking of this poverty cycle (CIDA). Creating information-rich societies is a key
element of poverty reduction and sustainable development (DFID). The focus is on the role of
Information and Communication for Development (ICD) in achieving the MDGs as an integral part of
DFID’s partners’ development objectives, and on empowering the voice of the poor (DFID).
ICTs and the private sector
The extent to which the private sector is engaged is generally a good measure of sustainability, at
least in financial terms. It is also particularly proficient at adapting to changing circumstances –
particularly relevant in the ICT sector. The private sector plays an especially important role in
delivering ICT-based services, both in constructing infrastructure (notably telecommunications) and in
delivering services sustainably across that infrastructure. Although ICTs exhibit many characteristics
in common with other infrastructure sectors, it is unique in regard to the speed of change in the
industry, which means that the private sector tends to work with relatively short investment horizons;39
nevertheless, international companies have demonstrated that telecommunications networks can be
operated profitably. The ICT market is segmented, with different customers requiring different
services (and having differing abilities to pay), which provides opportunities for local entrepreneurs to
develop niche markets.
39 Engvall and Hesselmark (2004).
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The old model of the state-owned and -managed telecommunications monopoly adopted in
the second half of the nineteenth century simply does not accommodate the fast-changing,
knowledge-based, and global information revolution. (USAID)
DAC members tend to favour developing and stimulating the private sector in order to
encourage investment. (EC)
Multinational companies, particularly the telecommunications operating companies, have a
profile in developing countries – logos can be seen at retail outlets and on scratch cards. Companies
are often operating as foreigners and are aware of the importance of creating a positive image with the
regulatory authorities as well as among customers. Many have large corporate social-responsibility
budgets. There is also momentum in corporate circles towards incorporating social and development
goals into operating practice. These resources can be most effective if coordinated, and if deployed in
collaboration with development co-operation stakeholders.
Small markets with limited competition (and large markets with poorly regulated competitors)
can lead to monopolistic practices. In order to attract private-sector operators, the ICT sector requires
transparency and effective regulation (and enforcement). Policy-making and regulatory processes
should canvas and accommodate the opinion of all sectors of the ICT industry through (for example)
consultation exercises.
The danger of non-transparent processes is that the limited availability in developing-country
internal markets of adequate hardware and software services raises costs, threatens the
technical sustainability outside of a limited geographical area and often exposes purchasers
to monopolistic practices. (Ireland)
If the private sector is to be the main vehicle for ICT infrastructural roll-out, there needs to
be a fair and transparent regulatory and policy framework to secure and promote private-
sector involvement. (CIDA)
In addition to their role as rule-makers, governments are also concerned with private-sector
development, and ICT is emerging in some countries as a significant economic sector. In other
infrastructure sectors, governments have often played a key role in public-private partnerships,
especially where they have responsibility for service provision and where they are responsible for
financial management (with soft loans, for instance). This is not generally the case for ICTs,40 but they
can play a role in developing new ways of engaging with the private sector in pro-poor service
delivery through conventional client-contractor type partnerships.
Box 18. A private sector example: ITC Limited India
An example illustrates how this can happen. ITC is one of India’s leading private companies, with annual
revenues of USD 2 billion. The company has initiated an “e-Choupal” effort that places computers with Internet
access in rural farming villages. What began as an effort to re-engineer the procurement process for cropping
systems in rural India has also created a highly profitable distribution and product-design channel for the
company. The e-Choupal system has said to have catalysed rural transformation that is helping to alleviate rural
isolation, create more transparency for farmers, and improve their productivity and incomes. In mid-2003,
e-Choupal services reached more than 1 million farmers in nearly 11 000 villages.
Details at: www.echoupal.com.
40 Exceptions include rural communications funds. See OECD (2004j).
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Given the success of the private sector in developing ICT infrastructure in developing countries,
most donors have abandoned supporting ICT infrastructure, preferring to leave that to the private
sector. So what is the most appropriate role for donors? There is a growing recognition of market
failures, notable examples being the importance of providing universal access, and the high cost of
Internet connectivity in some countries. Contributing factors include:
Political reluctance to change – governments have a vested financial interest in protecting
operations of the incumbent telecom company, where it remains state-owned.
Lack of capacity amongst decision-makers – often responsible for reluctance to open
markets up to new technology, as with the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Structure of industry – vertically integrated operators (especially incumbents) remain
reluctant to allow competitive use of infrastructure; international competition can be
constrained where an incumbent maintains a monopoly on international gateway.
Size of markets – small markets can only support core infrastructure provided by one
operator, whereas larger markets can support parallel, competitive infrastructure services.
Donors could, therefore, work to address areas of market failure, although these conditions are
often accompanied by factors such as corruption and incompetence that tend to deter investment.
Nevertheless, donors could meet the need for risk-funding. In poor countries it is likely that some form
of donor-supported funds will be necessary to subsidise pro-poor service provision (both infrastructure
and service delivery) where internal subsidies within tariff structures would not be feasible. There are
opportunities for delivering pro-poor services for the public good, rather than for profit, which can
only be realised with funding from donors or government. DAC members agreed that re-engaging in
financing ICT infrastructure due to the market failure requires careful consideration. 41
The role of aid needs to be revisited. Most developing country policies and regulations are
now skewed towards the private sector. There is a definite need to develop and implement
policies and regulations that create a better balance between private sector and pro-poor
social development. (CIDA)
The falling cost of technology presents opportunities for decentralisation of services, especially in
telecommunications. This, and a range of emerging technologies, is stimulating interest in local
participation in providing universal access. Yet these approaches require open access to core
infrastructure. These arguments are supported by the convergence of voice traffic and data traffic,
which is already designed to achieve the transparent interconnection of networks. In low-traffic
countries, it makes more sense to invest in a single network rather than to invest in competing
networks, which will target the same profitable segments of the market.
Private-sector operators tend to view development agencies with some suspicion. Donors can
play an important role in finding new ways in which development co-operation stakeholders can work
with the private sector. To make an effective contribution to pro-poor development, the private sector
has to be engaged. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)
sector. The report ICT, E-Business and SMEs42 suggests that donors should:
41 Summary record OECD-DAC/SDC Meeting, Geneva, 2004.
42 OECD (2004b), p. 6.
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Move beyond policies for basic connectivity and ICT readiness to facilitate more widespread
uptake and use of complex ICT applications and e-business uptake by small firms. Target
programmes where there are demonstrated market failures (e.g. R&D incentives, frameworks
for standards, skill formation, information and demonstrations on best practice and benefits
from adoption and use of ICT), taking into account that commercial considerations and
returns drive business adoption of new technologies.
The Summary Record of Second Workshop of the Infrastructure for Poverty Reduction Task
Team43 notes that “Even private sector investments need donor intervention to be more pro-poor”, and
for this to be successful donor intervention should still adhere to development co-operation good
practice – ownership, participation, collaboration. Failure to do so can reduce the effect of donor
interventions:
Some experience such as the IT&C and Asia-Invest programme of the EC noted in its mid
term review that the programme included inherent difficulties in operating programmes
designed to benefit private sector companies – but without their direct participation – and the
challenge of designing coherent sustainable instruments to meet broad and mixed
objectives.44
How do we keep learning? (monitoring and evaluation)
Assess development co-operation for its impact on poverty and develop the requisite monitoring
and evaluation systems and methodologies (The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction).
Given this ongoing rapid change and the challenge it produces, integration of ICTs in
development co-operation depends on the provision of accurate and timely information. The lack of
proper, sound evaluation has resulted in a patchy collection of anecdotes. Most DAC members feel
that the same examples are repeated with very little clear evidence of the genuine impact of ICTs on
development objectives and pro-poor growth. To overcome this, mechanisms should be developed to
focus on the results and outcomes of the application of ICTs in the wider development context, not on
inputs and the technology per se (Sida).
Box 19. Gyandoot
Gyandoot is a much-quoted programme which has pioneered a model for “soochanalays”, an intranet-based
Government to Citizen (G2C) service-delivery portal in Madhya Pradesh in India. However, despite the
encouraging anecdotes, the evaluation offered by AusAID dated 2002 states “The CEG-IIMA team travelled to 23
of the 32 functional soochanalays and covered 7 out of the 9 blocks, where Gyandoot has been implemented
(2002). [...] There were practically no users at the soochanalays on all the days of the survey. The study team had
to travel to common meeting points in the villages to locate the users of Gyandoot services. With considerable
effort, the team could locate 32 users in all and obtain responses from them [...]. The team could not get the data
on transactions registered on the Gyandoot’s Intranet server in spite of its repeated requests to the project
manager. The data registered in the logbooks at individual soochanalays are used as representative data for
Gyandoot service transactions. Due to these factors, amount of data collected was very limited, and was too
inadequate to subject the conclusions to any statistical validity”.
Source : CEGIIM (2002).
43 OECD (2004f).
44 EU-Asia (2004).
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There is a clear call among DAC members for more rigour in the monitoring and evaluation of
ICT-related projects, and a need for a clearing house or mapping exercise to identify what we know
and what we don’t about the role of ICTs in development co-operation. Yet a word of caution must
accompany such a call. In the ownership and participation section above, we discussed how ICTs
could support a virtuous cycle of ownership and participation. ICTs can support such development co-
operation good practice, but is not the driver of such good practice. This paper has been about the
integration of ICTs in development co-operation, and we have seen that it is the extent to which such
co-operation adheres to the good-practice principles in its overall programme design that will
determine its progress towards the MDGs, and its support for economic and pro-poor growth. ICTs
will only form a small part of overall co-operation design, and cannot in themselves be the initiator or
the driver of a virtuous cycle.
When we come to analyse a development programme that includes ICTs, there should be a
framework and mechanism to distinguish the contribution of the ICTs in the context of the overall
programme design. For instance, an absence of clients at a information centre may be due to
inappropriate information availability or inappropriate technology (it may be too difficult to use, for
example), but it may also be due to poor management of the centre, patronage that excludes the
marginalised, the way the centre was set up, the process of the development co-operation.
There is no complete understanding yet of how ICTs contribute to poverty-reduction.45 Basic
guidelines for ensuring that ICTs are used effectively for poverty reduction are still lacking (CIDA).
To create that understanding and develop the guidelines, systematic monitoring and evaluation of ICT-
related projects needs to be embedded in project design.
Is it appropriate? (appropriateness)
This last section does not relate directly to The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction. It is a section
that our broader experience in development interventions and our limited experience in ICTs have
determined. In these few paragraphs we draw attention to some basic rules of thumb concerning ICTs:
Simple is often the most effective.
Appropriate technology depends on the circumstances.
Cost-effectiveness is a core concept.
Innovative methods of access will be required for pro-poor applications.
Content and applications are more important than technology.
Sometimes the innovation of the poor will outpace development co-operation.
Simple is often the most effective
Different technologies have different uses and potential (most donors). For example, in reaching
rural populations simple technology, such as radio, may be more effective than more complicated
high-technology solutions requiring large capital costs (CIDA). No single technology is a magic bullet
or suitable to all requirements – each ICT (old and new) will be appropriate in different circumstances
45 Summary record OECD-DAC/SDC Meeting, Geneva, 2004 (OECD 2004g).
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(DFID). It is important to adequately appraise ICT applications and match these new technologies to
specific local circumstances (Netherlands).
Another example of ICTs providing specific information that enhances a more general
development co-operation is Guinea GIS for Natural Resources Management. Here GIS has been used
to monitor and improve the radio signal throughout Guinea, ensuring its population even in the
remotest of areas has access to educational (and entertainment) services through the radio.
Box 20. USAID/Guinea
USAID/Guinea, in co-operation with the Guinean Ministry of Education, has recently completed a two-and-a-
half year geographic survey of all public, private and community schools at all grades throughout Guinea.
Combined with the Ministry’s existing statistical database of primary and secondary schools, the survey adds a
spatial dimension to analysing and planning the distribution of education resources in Guinea. Rik Baeyens, GIS
Specialist for USAID, writes that: “We thought that there were 10 000 villages in Guinea, based upon the previous
data. We then discovered that there were some 35 000 villages. The new findings will have quite an effect on
everyone’s development statistics”. With the information provided by the survey on the location of schools,
particularly in relation to surrounding villages, the Ministry of Education and its partners will be able to better plan
and prioritise where new primary schools, middle schools and high schools should be built, and where existing
schools should be extended, so that all areas of the country are adequately served according to the distribution of
the population.
Box 21. Interactive radio instruction in Haiti
The Haiti Distance Education Inside and Beyond the Classroom Project follows two USAID distance-
education initiatives in Haiti, designed to improve educational quality in a country where many teachers lack
training and support. Working with the Haitian Foundation for Private Education (FONHEP) strengthens and
expands Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) in Haiti. IRI allows teachers and students to follow programmes via
radio that use games, songs, dramas and other activities to assist teachers in the instruction of educational
objectives from the curriculum. The official language of instruction in Haiti is Creole and the lessons provide solid
instruction in a language that many Haitian teachers have not mastered in its written form but are nonetheless
expected to use as the language of instruction.
Details at: www.usaid.gov/gn/infotechnology.
Box 22. HIV/AIDS and community radio communication for development in Mali
Objective: Accelerate development by making information accessible through innovative communication
techniques and appropriate tools. Focus on convergence of high-and low-technology. Info/Comm introduced
technologies (such as the Internet and rural radio) to Mali, while Com/Dev builds on this base. Leverages funding
from partnerships and alliances. Introduces newly-emerging digital technologies (e.g. WorldSpace, VITASat, etc.)
to make information more accessible. Takes advantage of new regional telecommunications regulatory policies.
Details at: http://mali.viky.net/usaid/cgi-bin/index.pl.
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Innovative methods of access will be required for pro-poor applications
Telecentres in various forms (cybercafes, computer labs, business centres and so on), developed
with local partners and often based on commercial principles, are important means of ICT access in
the developing world. Demand for telecentre services is often present but frequently has to be
uncovered and nurtured through special programmes (USAID). Outside the main urban centres,
innovative technical solutions must be applied to overcome problematic telecommunication links.
Both terrestrial and satellite wireless technologies hold particular promise for reaching the greatest
number of rural areas (USAID).
Where half of the world’s population lives on less than USD 2 a day and the cheapest PC
still costs USD 500, institutions rather than individuals will more likely serve as the means
of providing affordable access to ICT. (USAID)
Box 23. Village phones in Uganda
The Grameen Technology Center is replicating the success of the Grameen Village Phone Program in
Bangladesh. In rural villages where no telecommunications services have previously existed, cellular phones are
provided via a sustainable financing mechanism to very poor women who use the phone to operate a business.
The Grameen Technology Center has initiated the replication, establishing a joint venture with MTN Uganda to
create MTN villagePhone. Over 700 village phone businesses are now up and running in remote villages of
Uganda with more being added every day.
Details at: http://tech.gfusa.org/villagepayphone.shtml
Content and applications are more important than technology
We should give more emphasis to content and applications. As donors we should also become
more involved in associated issues such as intellectual property and open-source software, social-
service applications like government-support programmes, income-generating applications and
schemes like import/export and customs-related information, cultural strengthening like local language
services, etc. (CIDA). It is important to ensure that content is tailored to local users – e.g. languages,
subjects, images used on an Internet site (EC). Currently, 68 per cent of the content on the Internet is
in English – people not familiar with Internet languages cannot take advantage of the vast amount of
available content and applications (USAID). Addressing these cultural content and application issues
will support pro-poor growth and livelihood strengthening.
Box 24. TALCs in Bolivia
JHPIEGO, a Bolivian health NGO, is supporting the development of technology-assisted learning centres
(TALCs) for its reproductive-health trainers and faculty. The aim of these learning centres is to provide trainers
and healthcare professionals with the latest reproductive-health information technology and link members of
JHPIEGO’s trainer network. This project brings computers, CD-ROM-based learning packages, computer-user
training and reliable access to e-mail and the World Wide Web to trainers.
Details at: www.jhpiego.jhu.edu/global/talc.htm.
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Sometimes the innovation of the poor will outpace development co-operation
Finally, while we have discussed development co-operation and the integration of ICTs, it may be
worth finishing on a note of praise for the poor. What do we know about how the poor are adapting the
new technologies without development co-operation? Projects such as Grameen Village Phone (in
Bangladesh and Uganda) are presented as potential breakthroughs in both facilitating the income of
marginalised women, and in providing a valuable service to the otherwise isolated villages. But
evidence suggests that in Mozambique, where no such project has been undertaken, the rural poor
have already generated entrepreneurs who hold the “village phone”. Studies suggest that a single
phone in a village becomes the conduit for strategic calls, a small business, and a source for market
data. Projects that are supporting text-messaging services providing market data, such as Manobi or
Cyber Shepherds in Senegal, offer a valuable and cheap mechanism for obtaining up-to-date market
data. Yet again, studies show that where a phone is available, and even where text-based services are
not available, the phone is used for obtaining market data (by voice) and that such data are shared
among village farmers. Donor-led interventions may seek to reduce the costs to the user of data
services, but this section draws attention to the resourcefulness of the poor, and seeks to put the
integration of development co-operation in the context of local markets and local resourcefulness. One
final example is airtime trading. DAC members have only begun to explore the use of new
technologies to support the extension of financial services to the rural poor. Meanwhile in Uganda and
Kenya, amongst other locations, the poor have begun to use airtime as a mechanism for money
transfer. The code for airtime purchased in an urban centre may be sent by text to a rural area, where
the receiver accepts the airtime as payment for goods. These spontaneous applications support the
premise that DAC members have to find a better balance between the “soft” and the “hard” aspects of
ICTs.
Box 25. ICTs and the Asian Tsunami
The devastation brought by the tsunami that struck the coastal communities of several Asian countries on
26 December was made even more tragic as news begin to break of how a small number of technicians,
monitoring the progress of the waves across the seas using the latest ICT systems, had found themselves unable
to warn communities standing in harm’s way.
This was not the case with Vijayakumar Gunasekaran, a 27-year old son of a fisherman from Nallavadu
village, Pondicherry, on the eastern coast of India, who works in Singapore. Vijayakumar followed the news of the
earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia, as it unfolded over the radio and television in Singapore. He decided to phone
home. He asked his sister to quickly leave their home and to also tell other villagers to evacuate the village. Her
warning reached a couple of quick-thinking villagers who broke down the doors of the community centre set up
by the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) where a public address system used routinely to
announce sea conditions to the fishermen was housed. The warning from Vijayakumar, corroborated at this time
by a second overseas telephone call from Gopu, another villager working abroad, was broadcast across the
village using the loud-speaker system. The village's siren was sounded immediately afterwards for the people to
evacuate.
No one was killed in this village as a result of the timely warnings. Nallavadu is home to 500 families and
about 3,630 people. While all lives were saved, the tsunami destroyed 150 houses and 200 fishing boats in the
village, according to the MSSRF.
Source: Chin Saik Yoon, Penang, Malaysia, December 2004.
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Conclusion
This chapter presented the challenges and opportunities arising from the intersection of the DAC
principles of good practice in development co-operation with ICT engagement in the processes of
economic development (including pro-poor growth). It has shown that without good practice,
development co-operation is likely to fall short of its target, including its targets for the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs). The integration of ICTs in itself will not provoke adherence to good
practice.
But ICTs can support good practice. It is particularly suited to the practice and processes
surrounding ownership and participation. Inclusion of the voice of the poor in planning frameworks
can be facilitated by ICTs; the image used above is one of a virtuous cycle of ownership and
participation. ICTs are not a necessary part of the cycle, and cannot form the cycle – but they can
support it.
As the development of ICTs continues at a rapid pace, the development community will face
ongoing challenges regarding the integration of ICTs into development co-operation. There are
dangers regarding the distraction of resources, and the provision of technology without capacity. There
are opportunities for improved ways of working, and for making cost-savings through improved
efficiencies. As the development community considers how to mainstream ICTs in its development
co-operation the focus of the question “How can ICTs be integrated into development co-operation?”
should now be “How can ICTs support development co-operation good practice?”
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Chapter 5
Conclusions and Recommendations
Chapters 2 and 3 presented the contribution of ICTs to pro-poor growth (PPG) and to achieving
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) respectively.
The main conclusion regarding PPG revolved around the desirability of more data. It seems that,
until evidence to the contrary is found, the impact of investment in ICTs is likely to follow the normal
pattern of essentially driving macro-economic growth. There is a growing body of evidence linking
investment in ICTs to economic growth, but little convincing evidence on the links to pro-poor growth
in particular.
One of the most appropriate ways to generate the data required, and to act in the interim, is to
follow good practice in development co-operation by using the PRSP processes to include an analysis
and comment on the role of ICTs – not simply as ICT as a sector within the economy but as a tool that
can complement other factors in pro-poor infrastructure, private-sector development and rural
livelihoods. Chapter 2 concluded that donors should pay more attention to an enabling pro-poor
environment in ICT-related regulations and policies.
In practical terms, where ICTs have been highlighted in the PRSP, donors should seek to support
some linked infrastructure programmes for rural areas (for example, extending the mobile-phone
network into areas where new rural roads are built). Since rural livelihoods and education are said to
be win-win investments, resources intended to be stimulation of PPG, and which are ICT-orientated,
should be concentrated on rural livelihoods and education.
In considering the contribution of ICTs to achieving the MDGs, Chapter 3 focussed on the three
key processes that lead to the MDGs and which ICTs can in some circumstances enhance. The
question for policy-makers was said to be no longer whether ICTs can be used or not; they can. Three
questions now follow. Should they be used? Which is the best strategy for enhancing livelihoods, for
increasing delivery efficiencies and for improving planning processes? And is the most effective
strategy one that includes ICTs? ICTs do not have to be treated as a separate path to achieving the
MDGs but as a tool to enhance the key processes.
Having taken this approach, chapter 3 presented some realities that must be faced by donors,
namely:
Capacity in effectively using ICTs for development and useful content are often the main
constraints, not equipment.
Within the time frame of the MDGs (2015), digital devices with simple interfaces will
therefore be the main tool in the field.
The private sector is instrumental in expanding ICTs for development access, but other
players (governments, civil society, etc.) should lead on applications.
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Development of “developmental” content on and through such devices should be a priority
for donors. This development should not occur in the “ICT sector” but within the sectoral
response – education, health, governance.
Incorporating ICTs into the planning of development interventions requires an analysis of
“with” and “without” scenarios, which requires more rigorous analysis of the possibilities
of replicating and scaling current pilots.
For a more rigorous analysis, more data are required on the linkages between the use of
ICTs and the impact on the MDGs46.
Chapters 2 and 3 conclude with these recommendations, leading to a consideration of “good
practice” on the integration of ICTs in development co-operation.
Chapter 4 presents six key concepts which can be derived from both the conclusions of the
previous chapters and The DAC Guidelines Poverty Reduction:
Ownership and Participation through participatory planning processes to ensure pro-poor
use of the ICTs.
Co-ordination and collaborationthe use of multi-stakeholder processes to ensure
efficiencies and the importance of matching private- and public-sector initiatives.
Though capacity building is an overused phrase within the development community, it is
nevertheless a vital key to progress towards the MDGs.
Sustainability – for ICTs to contribute to achieving the MDGs they must be scaled and
replicated before 2015, implying that their roll-out and use is sustainable.
Monitoring and evaluation should generate the data required.
Appropriateness – in order to reduce the need for technical operation and maintenance
capacity and to enable the consumer ease of use, ICTs should focus on presenting
appropriate content on appropriate devices.
ICTs are not a special case that can ignore the general principles of development co-operation
(represented in The DAC Guidelines). Indeed, the current experience of ICTs strongly suggests that
without good practice, development co-operation is likely to fall short of its target including its targets
for the MDGs. The integration of ICTs into development co-operation in itself will not provoke
adherence to good practice, although ICTs can indeed support good practice – and they are particularly
suited to the practice and processes surrounding “ownership and participation”. The inclusion of the
46 There is a process of data capture that is being proposed under the theme "measuring the information
society" as a follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Geneva 2003 and as
a lead-up to WSIS Tunis 2005 and beyond. It is an international partnership of major organisations
such as UNCTAD, ITU, UNESCO and OECD. One of the key propositions is that the data becomes a
part of the national statistics gathering of governments. In the context of Chapter 4, it is the
integration of these data into national planning processes that is important. Details at:
http://measuring.ict.unctad.org.
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voice of the poor in the planning frameworks can be facilitated by ICTs, in a virtuous cycle of
ownership and participation. ICTs are not an indispensable part of the cycle, and cannot form it on
their own – but they can support it.
Chapter 4 concluded that, as the development of ICTs continues at a rapid pace, the development
community will face ongoing challenges in the integration of ICTs into development co-operation.
There are dangers that resources may be distracted and that the technology provided may exceed what
its users can handle or may require. New ways of working and new forms of cost-effectiveness can be
devised. As the development community considers how to bring ICTs into the mainstream of its
development co-operation, the focus of the question “How can ICTs be integrated in development
co-operation?” should now be “How can ICTs support development co-operation good practice?”
All development interventions should be examined to see to what degree they are appropriate.
The appropriateness of ICTs is a particular issue. For instance, the rapid expansion of mobile
telephony has been driven by demand. The telephone is a device which suits the voice culture of the
poor, does not require much technical literacy, offers a variety of payment mechanisms that suit the
flexible finances of the poor (including text as a cost-effective alternative to voice) and which is
battery-operated, almost eliminating the requirement of access to the electrical grid. Where such
appropriateness fits the livelihoods and culture of the poor, there will be an uptake of ICTs, which can
be sustained by the private sector. There is also a demand for content and applications of ICTs that are
appropriate to the context and circumstances of the poor.
Recommendations
We finish by returning to the two groups of potential readers.
To the ICT enthusiast, the recommendations are:
More data are required on the impact and effectiveness of using ICTs to support PPG and the
deliver of pro-poor services.
The efficiencies and increased effectiveness in mainstream development co-operation that
ICTs can provide has to be demonstrated, particularly where they are competing for scarce
resources.
When considering the introduction or extension of ICTS, it is the potential impact on pro-
poor growth or on the processes which lead towards the MDGs that have to be presented and
discussed, not the development of ICT infrastructure per se, or ICTs as a goal in themselves.
Programmes seeking to integrate ICTs in development co-operation must adhere to good-
practice principles on ownership and participation, co-operation and collaboration, and
capacity-building, if they are to have any measure of success.
Co-operation with the private sector is particularly pertinent for increasing ICT access,
although synergies with other sectors should also be sought.
The user interface should be matched to the clientele capacity, and the relevancy of content
ensured, whatever the ICT used.
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To the donor, government or development practitioner, especially those yet to be convinced
about the role of ICTs, the recommendations are:
The impact and effectiveness of using ICTs to support PPG and the deliver of pro-poor
services should be continually assessed – rapid changes in ICTs can offer new ways of
working.
There should be continual assessment of whether ICTs can produce efficiencies and increase
effectiveness in mainstream development co-operation, particularly where there are scarce
resources and ICTs may create savings.
ICTs will have an increasing role in the practice of development co-operation by virtue of
their increasing role in day-to-day life and so should not be ignored – they will increasingly
impinge on the life of the poor.
Development co-operation seeking to adhere to good-practice principles should consider
how ICTs can support and enhance practices such as ownership and participation, co-
operation and collaboration, and capacity-building.
Co-operation with the private sector is particularly pertinent for increasing ICT access, but
synergies with other sectors should be sought.
Planning tools – such as the PRSP process – should include an analysis of the role of ICTs in
poverty-reduction, and seek to put in place a positive enabling environment.
This publication has outlined the importance of a broader view of ICTs in development co-
operation. For the development community to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by
ICTs, the community must keep a view that includes the wider picture – not the specifics of this
technology or that channel of information but of the developmental processes known to be good
practice.
The real challenge lies ahead: our organisation behaviour has to be changed. Policy and/or
strategies papers can and should be prepared, but in themselves are not sufficient. DAC members have
already identified good-practice processes that should be basis of any development co-operation. The
mainstreaming of ICTs will be successful only when these good practices are applied in the planning
processes. That demands a preparedness to be flexible, to respond to partnerships and participatory
planning and a willingness to co-operate and collaborate to optimise the use of resources.
But how should DAC members organise themselves so that they can best integrate ICTs in
development co-operation? No single best practice has yet been identified. Various models have
included the creation of a special team, section or division; others have suggested the recruitment of
expert staff from within or outside the organisation. Yet none of these models has proven to offer an
undisputed best-practice approach. There has, then, to be a continuous effort to understand the rapidly
changing role of ICTs and the best way to organise the response.
This effort should come from all DAC members, from policy-makers to practitioners in the field.
It follows that capacity-building is a vital part of this effort, with training energising and informing
people in headquarters, country offices and in the field.
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There must also be a continual sharing of information and experience – both successes and
failures – in order to build a DAC-wide picture that understands the role of ICTs in economic growth
and the reduction of poverty.
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