Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is an interdisciplinary research area that focuses on the role of these technologies in social and economic development.
The last few decades have seen a revolution in ICTs, which in turn has revolutionised the way we communicate and exchange information. Thanks to satellites, smart phones and fibre optic cables, it is now possible to talk to friends and clients, access the internet and watch the latest news from almost anywhere on the planet – provided you have access to the technology.
ICTs can play an important role in fostering development. They can allow doctors to access medical information, teachers to access educational resources, workers to organise, and farmers to negotiate fair prices for their products. They can provide warnings of potential disasters and facilitate disaster relief. They can help disseminate information on efficient farming techniques and sustainable energy generation. They can be generators for democracy, free speech and revolution. But they are only part of the answer. Many projects fail and often for reasons that apply in both the developed and the less developed parts of the world. However, ICTs do have great potential and they offer significant benefits across many sectors.
ICTs have already made major inroads into the developing world. In Nigeria, over 87% of adults now own a mobile phone. But there is still a huge divide between the haves and the have-nots. For example, in 2016, just over one half of the world’s population had access to the internet, however, less than 27% of Africans had access compared to 89% of North Americans.