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ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region

Article Index
ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region
What do we mean by ICTD
ICTD: The state of the art
Globalzation and Migration
Evaluating Gender in ICTD
ICTD and Environmental Sustainability
INFRASTRUCTURE
Mobile and Wirelss
Technological Developments (Including Convergence)
EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
MEDIA AND CONTENT DEVELOPMENT
CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
CONCLUSION

The pace of change in ICT continues to be intimidating for those seeking to make new innovations available for all. It seems that as soon as new bandwidth becomes available, new audiovisual services, which require ever more data, become the norm. The challenges for policymakers and for development practitioners are similar: how to make sense of it all and determine the best way to prepare stakeholders to benefit from these applications? When infrastructural issues develop so quickly, it is not simply a case of rolling out 2G, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, on the pathway toward development. Instead, the decision to implement the conditions for certain technologies always has an eye to the past (embedded capability and capacity to use new technologies) and the future (ability to build on the experience with learning that will be sustainable).

The Asia Pacific region is uniquely positioned with respect to ICTD. It is home to the largest manufacturing capability for ICTs, yet it is also home to over half the 1.6 billion people in the world who live without electricity (UNDP 2007). The region includes nations such as China that are undergoing rapid economic growth, and highly developed nations whose economies are adapting rapidly to the high-technology manufacturing capabilities emerging in other areas. It also includes nations facing severe development challenges and structural poverty that will not be easily solved. The region has been in the media spotlight due to recent natural disasters, as well as the technologies that are being deployed to mitigate their effects. And the Asia Pacific region contains most of the world's languages and a growing infrastructure for cultural exports - a fact that ought to have some relevance for the focus on cultural development and creative industries such as digital content.

While it is difficult to generalize about the position of the Asia Pacific with respect to ICTD, the chapters in this edition of the Digital Review show that the different parts of the region have much to learn from each other, even as the region as a whole must respond to critical decisions that might be made in North America or Europe regarding device standards. In the technology sector, we are used to valuing the cutting-edge and innovative. But in the realm of development the promises of ICTs must be tested against their effects on human development in our specific locations in the Asia Pacific region. As ICTs continue to change the structure of economies and the processes of globalization, governments and communities will need to respond in ways that take into account the important and complex issues that go to the very heart of development.

NOTES

1 See DOI report at www.opt-init.org/framework/pages/contents.html

2 The 16 companies that form the consortium include Algeria Telecom (AT), Bharti Tele Ventures (India), Bangladesh Telecom (BTTB), Telecom Thailand (CAT), France Telecom, MCI, Pakistan Telecom (PTCL), Singapore Telecom (SingTel), Sri Lankan Telecom (SLT), Saudi Telecom (STC), Telecom Egypt, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Telecom Malaysia, Tunisia Telecom, VSNL (India), and Etisalat (UAE).



 

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