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New Book Features IICD's 7 'A's of ICT4D Challenges

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Jul 04 2014, Netherlands [NL], Economic Development, Education, Health, Water and Climate Resilience

The book 'ICTs and the Millennium Development Goals: A United Nations Perspective', recently released by Springer Publishing, includes a contribution from IICD titled “The Role of ICTs in Poverty Eradication: More than 15 Years’ Experience from the Field”. The book aims to create awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals and focuses on the ways in which ICTs can be used to help meet these goals.

IICD’s contribution to this volume, written by Managing Director Caroline Figuères and Health Sector Development Unit Coordinator Hilde Eugenlink, focuses on the seven 'A's, or the challenges commonly faced in ICT4D. These challenges, identified through our experience, include accessibility, affordability, availability, adaptability, accountability, ability and acceptability.

The first two As primarily regard the technological and economical aspects of ICT4D challenges. Accessibility addresses the question of access to ICTs in developing countries and the ‘digital divide’ between the haves and the have-nots, a theme prominent in IICD’s work. Affordability concerns the price of ICT equipment and services and making ICT solutions affordable enough to benefit impoverished communities. To this end, IICD works not only with new media like smartphones and tablets, but also traditional media like radio and television, as well as encouraging ‘shared connectivity’, a model in which a group of local actors unite to make connectivity more affordable.

The remaining five As are related primarily to the social aspects of ICT4D. Even once accessibility and affordability have been addressed, the availability of information and relevant data can remain an issue. ICTs present the unique opportunity of helping unlock distant data and expertise (internationally or in the village next door) and assuring that it is trustworthy and reliable information. Adaptability to users stresses understanding local structures and needs. Accountability refers to transparency and the need for the private sector, governments, NGO and civil society organisations to provide relevant information about their work, which encourages effectiveness, efficiency and quality of programmes, products, services and solutions. Ability is the necessary building of digital capacities and e-literacies to meet the growing demand for ICT skills in the developing world. IICD’s capacity building interventions seek to help users enhance these skills to not only improve their own lives but serve their communities. At the other end, IICD also improves capacities of providers of ICT solutions. Finally, acceptability looks at using ICTs in ways that fit local communities, so that users are more likely to take ownership of and invest in ICT initiatives. Acceptability leads to behavioural and organisational change, resulting in development that benefits us all.

With this publication, IICD adds its voice and experience to those of other ICT4D professionals, sharing our experiences and learning over 17 years of ICT-driven capacity building interventions in Africa and Latin America. To read more about the book, see the publisher’s page.

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