As developing countries face the new opportunities and challenges of the global network economy, there is increasing debate about how ICT can more effectively enable socioeconomic development. Although several countries have in fact created national ICT task forces and developed national ICT strategies (as seen in Section 2.3), the lack of comprehensive frameworks to illustrate how to use and deploy ICT development leaves nations struggling to identify effective strategies; sometimes even pursuing detrimental and costly approaches. The development dynamic suggested by the case studies and the inherent characteristics of ICT, and presented here by the DOI, is a framework that can assist countries in the effective and prompt design and implementation of ICT interventions.
Strategies for the use of ICT are not universal. Countries face different circumstances, priorities and financial means, and should therefore adopt different strategies accordingly. The framework offered by the DOI can be of help in determining a strategy regardless of what goals have been established, since coordinated action along the five areas identified in the framework is always likely to yield more effective results. However, the evidence and analysis presented suggest that a strategy that focuses its ICT interventions towards the achievement of development goals is more likely to achieve marked socioeconomic development. An ICT as development enabler strategy would have the following characteristics:
1. Adoption of a holistic and multi-dimensional approach. To strengthen synergies between the components of the development dynamic, leverage spillover effects, and directly address development imperatives, it is useful to undertake aligned interventions in a number of strategic areas.
2. Coordinated actions, strong partnerships and local implementation. The ICT as enabler focus, by its nature, involves actions taken by a number of different stakeholders. Enhancing the enabling impact of ICTcreating a development dynamicwill require not only a greater focus on the interplay of complementary components, but also coordinated action among diverse stakeholders and an inclusive policy to benefit from the synergies created by harmonizing bottom-up approaches. That is to say, the process by which the approach is arrived at and coordination undertaken is equally important for success. The process needs to address potential barriers and resistance, put in place transitional mechanisms to address trade-offs and create positive incentives for change that leverage the creative potential of the different actors, allowing them to work on the basis of both established as well as new roles and responsibilities. This process will vary from country to country as each attempts to translate the strategic framework into action leading to tangible results on the ground (see Figure 3.3).
3. Global, national and local linkages. The development dynamic framework also acknowledges that the global network economy creates new opportunities for nations and communities. National ICT strategies can no longer be pursued in isolation but must be positioned within the global context, while simultaneously addressing the needs and opportunities emerging from the local context. Just as the value of a network expands with each additional member, the opportunities provided by the global network economy and society increase as nations and communities across the globe participate more fully.
There are important linkages between the national and local contexts as well. At the national level, developing country governments have a crucial role to play in creating the enabling environment for achieving virtuous cycles of sustainable development. National level policies can help or hinder ICT initiatives for development, with important consequences for the scalability and sustainability of local initiatives. And local initiatives can help create the critical mass that is needed for threshold levels, scale effects and networks effects to be realized at the national level. The local can also be integrated with the global, bypassing the national and allowing for bottom-up approaches (see Figure 3.4).
To summarize, implementing a framework for action involves bringing new ideas to the table, creating processes to build consensus about national priorities and addressing barriers in the different areas through some combination of advocacy, consultation, incentives, reforms, transitional mechanisms and the formation of strategic compacts.
The framework creates the foundation for diagnosing what needs to be addressed by national ICT strategies, policies and partnerships, based on an assessment of the level of preparedness (readiness) relative to the desired goals. It provides a tool to devise the strategies necessary for the creation of an enabling environment to achieve development goals and to outline measures for the type and levels of investment required to address gaps in infrastructure, policy, enterprise, human capacity and content and applications.
© 2001 Accenture, Markle Foundation, United Nations Development Programme.
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