Information and communication technology contribute to the growth and development of new colonies. The rapid adoption of mobile phones and internet access has played a crucial role in improving the quality of human life. However, many challenges remain in the utilization of technology in poverty eradication and development projects.
Interconnected world (Rockel, 2018)
Concerns about ICT and inclusivity
Some stakeholders question if ICT leads to inclusive development. Moreover, there are many concerns about whether the development created by the adoption of ICT is positive (Maung et al., 2019). There are concerns that the reliance on ICT as a tool for creating development in countries may increase the alienation of some vulnerable groups.
Presently, there is a knowledge gap between ICT interventions in developing countries. Besides, stakeholders are still grappling with the implications of ICT in the development process (Maung et al., 2019). The presence of competing theories about its role has also undermined the capacity of stakeholders to understand this phenomenon.
Mobile education is popular now than ever
Digitization and ICT4D
Digitization increases efficiency but may also create new challenges for developing countries. While automation is essential in increasing productivity, it hurts low-skilled laborers. For example, the use of tea picking machines has resulted in the displacement of many laborers. Besides, the growing digitization of the economy is increasing the participation of developed countries at the expense of the locals. Consequently, there is the risk of a disproportionate share of the gains realized in an economy held by foreigners.
The goals of development continue to be undermined by the lack of inclusivity in the growth of countries. Although development should expand the choices that are available to many people, it constrains them. For example, the growth of fintech has resulted in the proliferation of mobile lending apps that further trap many vulnerable people in debt cycles as opposed to promoting financial inclusion. Similarly, development can nurture both tolerance and peace in society. However, hate speech may target other groups on social media. Increased social media interactions have failed to negate the challenges associated with tribalism and negative ethnicity.
Challenges in ICT4D
The lack of a clear definition of sustainable development is a challenge in the implementation of ICT in developing countries. The adoption of ICT creates both winners and losers in society. Besides reducing the number of people who are employed, technology can create new forms of inequalities in society. For example, the gap between communities that have access to the internet and those that do not may create new gaps in society. Besides, there are concerns that many people may fail to understand the implications of their development practices in the affected country.
Students are trying to engage with ICT
While poverty is a capability deprivation, as opposed to an economic indicator, technology has failed to contribute towards the achievement of inclusive development. For example, it has been unable to create an enabling environment for the uplifting of more members of the community. In effect, it has failed to create an environment that would allow for inclusive empowerment. For instance, the growth of the gig economy is undermining social protections for workers and creating a “race to the bottom,” which threatens the capacity of many people to achieve social-economic mobility.
Although the adoption of ICT has resulted in the improvement in access to education and the quality of learning experiences, it has failed to create the jobs required to achieve positive outcomes in an increasingly competitive labor market. Many young people lack the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy. Besides, it has resulted in the creation of job opportunities for a few while worsening the social-economic conditions of low-skilled laborers.
In effect, while the utilization of ICT in contributing towards the realization of development is integral in contributing towards the growth and development of countries, it may entrench inequalities by allowing the elite to getter wealthier at the expense of the poor. While an interconnected global economy has created a lot of opportunities for the elite and educated, it has failed to yield similar outcomes for low-skilled earners. Additionally, there is a risk that ICT has been unable to create equality of opportunities in developing countries because internet access and computers remain expensive.
Stakeholders and funding
The rapidly changing roles and norms of stakeholders in a society dependent on ICT has created new challenges. For instance, there is a lack of access to relevant information due to challenges in the acquisition of open data. The use of open data can be integral in promoting positive outcomes in policy innovation and collaboration among stakeholders.
Funding challenges continue to undermine the capacity of development partners to invest in ICT as a core capacity for their development programs. The deployment of innovative ICT solutions at scale is an expensive endeavor that requires a lot of capital investment. In this regard, stakeholders need to ensure that development planning incorporates ICT (Maung et al., 2019). Moreover, policymakers should ensure they address the role of ICT in the implementation of critical developmental programs. Besides, they should ensure that ICT4D programs are aligned with global development agendas. This approach will be instrumental in contributing to the achievement of positive outcomes.
In sum, the challenges facing ICT4D projects can are due to systemic, cultural, and structural issues. A failure to embrace inclusive design in the development of social-economic policies may create immense challenges that undermine the capacity of stakeholders to achieve desired outcomes. The implementation of ICT initiatives in developing countries has centered on the exportation of ideas instead of focusing on the needs of the target population. Nonetheless, on the whole, the adoption of ICT can play a positive role in promoting development across the world.
Maung K. Sein, Devinder Thapa, Mathias Hatakka & Øystein Sæbø. (2019). A holistic perspective on the theoretical foundations for ICT4D research. Information Technology for Development, 25 (1), 7-25, DOI: 10.1080/02681102.2018.1503589
Rockel, M. (2018). Some examples of how ICT can help us solve our global issues. Retrieved from https://www.dotmagazine.online/new-work-and-digital-education/ICT4D