ICT in rural development in developing countries

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Unformatted text preview: @ERITISH LIE AYAZ GHANI NFSM Engineering Document Deliverv / NFSM PME—4TESITOS NFSM MEMORIAL UNIY OF NEWFOUNDLAND OUEEN ELIZABETH II LIE INTERLIERARY LOANS 13E Newtown Rd St. John, NL ATTN: PHONE: FAX: E—MAIL: PME * REGULAR TITLE: YOLUME/ISSUE/PAGES: DATE: AUTHOR OF ARTICLE: TITLE OF ARTICLE: ISSN: SOURCE: DELIYERY: REPLY: SUBMITTED: 2D1D—D2—28 19:53:45 PRINTED: 2D1D—D3—D3 11:34:1T REQUEST NO.: PME—4?281TDS SENT VIA: World Wide Web PATRON TYPE: Graduate COPY JOURNAL NEW MEDIT: MEDITERRANEAN JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS, AGRICULTURE AND ENYIRONMENT vol:?: no:l:season:winter: quarter:D1' SD — 5? 2DDS—D3—D1 Gaiani, Silvia, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES [ICTS] FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN DEYELOPING COUNTRIES 1594—5685 shelfmark EDS4.4SSSDD DSC E—mail Link: k59amg@mun.oa E—mail: k59amg@mun.oa This document contains 9 pages. This is NOT an invoice. Be advised that all books obtained through Dooument Deliverv Servioes must he picked up and dropped off at the Queen Elizabeth II Ciroulation desk. Oueries:—?D9—?3?—3195 or email:qe2ill@mun.oa Memorial Universitv [NFSM] / East Coast Relais Consortium NEW MEDIT N. 1fl008 Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Rural Development in Developing Countries 1. Introduction: the role of ICTs in an interconnected world Nowadays, we are living in a chaotic period of tran- sition to a new age charac- terized by global competi- tion, rampant change, faster flow of information and communication, in- creasing business complex- ity and pervasive globalisa- tion. This new environment is marked by more far- reaching technological ad- vances and by a knowl- edge-driven economy, em- phasising the fact that the current contribution of knowledge is very much the dynamo of economy. Knowledge plays a cru- cial role in fostering inno- vation and, at the same time, innovation has be- come central to achieve- ments in the business world where new challenges are always emerging. Technological innova- SILV/A GAIANI* jel classification: Q 160, O 330 Abstract Rural areas of the developing world are the last frontier of the infomiation tech— nology revolution. In these areas, telephone and Internet access is very limited if compared with developed countries. The presence of few means of electronic communication with the outside world is just one source of rural communities and economies isolation from the forces of national and global integration, al- beit an important one. In recent years, numerous interesting experiments have been carried out to ex- tend low-cost telephone and Internet access to low-income rural communities. But how can Information and Communication Technology contribute to rural development? What are the channels through which impacts can be realized, and what are the practical means for realizing potential benefits? This paper analyses two main ongoing projects that aim at providing ICT-based services to rural populations in Maharashtra (India) and Morocco. The goal of such projects is to reach the commercial sustainability that supports scalability and, therefore, more widespread benefits. The analysis highlights the common building blocks required for successful im- plementation and the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. Keywords: rural development, information technology, economic growth, In- dia, Morocco. Résumé Les zones mrales des pays en de'veloppement représentent la derniérefiontiére de la revolution des technologies de 1 information. Dans ces zones, I ’acce‘s an re'seau (téléphone et Internet) est trés limité par rapport aux pays (le'reloppés. La présence de tre‘s pen de moyens de communication électroniqne est 1 ’nne des raisons principales erpliquant l 'isolement des économies et des communautés rurales par rapport our forces [1 'intégration nationale et internationale. Ces derniéres anne'es, bon nombre d ’erpériences inte'ressantes ont été mises en wnvre pour permettre atLr commtmantés rurale (ifaible rei'enn d ’avoir acce‘s an téléplzone et a Internet (i bas cozits. Mais comment la technologie de I'injbrma— (ion et de la connnnnication pent—elle contribner an de'veloppement écono- mique? Qnels sont Ies canaiLr par lesqnels des impacts peuvent se produire? Et queIs sont les moyens pratiqnes par lesqnels les be'néfices potentiels peuvent se réaliser? Cet article passe en reme deux ptojets en conrs dont le but nltime est defimr- nir atLr populations mrales ale Maharashtra (lnde) et dn Maroc des services [1 base des technologies de 1 ’information et de la commzmication. L ’objectifde ses tions, especially those in projets est de produire une durabilité commerciale capable de supporter des Information and Commu- nication Technologies (ICTs), delivered the Infor- mation Age and converted it into the Knowledge Age'. By revolutionising the way societies interact, avantages plus répandns. L ’analyse met en evidence anssi bien Ies ingredients commnns nécessaires pour mettre snr pied an programme de sncce‘s que les paint de forces et defaiblesse des diflérentes approelzes existantes. Mots-ele's: développement rural, teclmologie de 1 'information, croissance économiqne, Inde, Mame. conduct their businesses and compete in interna- tional markets, ICTs are setting the world e- conomies and the devel- opment agendas. ICTs consist of hard- ware, software, networks and media for collection, storage, processing, trans- mission and presentation of information (including voice, data, text and im- ages). This simple and un- constrained definition of ICTs encompasses the old- est as well as the newest ICTs (mainly mobile and intemet) and, as a result, promotes the widest par— ticipation of countries across the globe. Information goods typi- cally have the characteristic that one person’s use of them does not reduce their availability for another per- son. Thus, many people can display messages or news, simultaneously or sequen- tially. Standard economic characterizations can be used to classify the differ- ent kinds of information. For example, entertain- ment, personal communi- cations and sometimes news are final goods. Educational material, job announcements or specific news (weather news for farmers, for instance) are intermediate goods, typ- * Faculty of Agriculture, University of Bologna. ' Pasternack B.A. and Viscio A._]., 1998. The Center/err Corporation, Asia Pa- cific Journal of Human Resources. ically used for improving income-earning opportunities. ICTs are dramatically increasing the share ability of in- formation — by enabling societies to produce, have access 50 Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" NE\‘\"r\lEDlT N. 1/2008 to, adapt and apply greater amounts of information in a more rapid manner and at reduced costs — and they are en- hancing business productivity and economic activity. In the framework of rapidly developing information and communication technologies, the Milan Declaration on Communication and Human Rights2 (1998) has asserted that communication media have a responsibility to help sustain the diversity of the world’s cultures, languages and !economies, and that they should be supported by legisla- tive, administrative, and financial measures. In the spirit of the Milan Declaration, ICTs are proving to contribute to strengthening democracy, increasing social participation, competing in the global marketplace, remov- ing barriers to modernisation and making poor populations the main stakeholders of the sustainable development V process. The purpose of this paper is to provide a snapshot of ICTs in the developing countries. By presenting two ongo— ing projects in India and Morocco, the intent is to analyse the benefit of ICTs usage in rural development and to as- sess the socio-economic benefit deriving from their func- tioning. ' 2. ICTs, economic growth and development Today, we truly live in a global village, but it is a village with privileged information "haves" and many information "have-nots". To face the unprecedented challenges brought on by the changing global economy, dynamic political con- texts, environment degradation and demographic pressures, and to make critical decisions, people at all levels of socie- ty - especially the food-insecure and the organizations that serve and represent them — should be able to have easy ac- cess to critical information and to communicate. In assessing the potential for ICTs to promote an eco- nomic growth to the benefit of the poor, two central ques- tions remain to be answered. First, is there a definite causal relationship between ICTs and the economic growth? Sec- ond, is the resulting growth in favour of the poor? And, if not, what conditions could make it so? Several comparative studies have been carried out to analyse the difference in productivity gains in different countries and regions of the world. While the extent of the impact may differ, there is a general consensus that ICTs have a clear impact on economic growth by increasing the productivity. A comprehensive international study3 comparing the pe- riods 1989-1995 with 1995-2003 uses separate measures of ICT investment, non-ICT investment, and several meas- ‘ http://na.amarc.org/?p=The_Milan_Declaration. ’ International Telecommunication Union, “\Vorld Telecommunication De- velopment Report 2006. Measuring ICT for social and economic develop- ment", Executive Summary, 2007. ures of labour in order to determine the correlation be- tween changes in ICT investment levels and GDP growth across different regions. According to this study, the group that benefited the most from ICTs was the G7, where al- most one third (27%) of the GDP growth that occurred from 1995-2003 was due to ICT investment. However, in major developing and transition countries, ICT capital played a smaller (although increasing) role. Sub-Sahara Africa shows similar economic impact from ICT capital growth over time — about 10% — while most other groups have lately showed a greater impact. Latin America jumped considerably from the first time period to the sec- ond (Figure 1). Figure l — [C T Z? contribution to economic growth. ICT Capital’s Contribution to Economlc Growth America Europe Saharan and Middle (15) (15) (14) Africa East (28) (11) Source: ITU adapted from Jorgensom and Vu, 2005. Note: The Group of 7 (G7) refers to the following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA. The results suggest that the contribution of ICT to eco- nomic growth depends on a number of factors including the market’s regulatory framework and the ability of countries to develop skills and transform their organisational envi- ronment. Significant network investment and expansion are needed before ICTs can begin to effectively affect growth in low- income countries. As far as development is concerned, information and in- frastructures are essential for bringing about social and e- conomic change. ICTs promote greater inclusion of indi- viduals within networks and, even more important, they in- crease the diversity of participants by overcoming the bar- riers of physical distance and social standing. The immedi- acy and reach of ICTs also promote faster, more efficient, and ultimately better decision-making across all fields of endeavour. The role of ICTs in people’s lives goes beyond the issue of access and infrastructure as these tools have become im- portant in improving health services, in environmental monitoring, in bridging the gaps of the rich and the poor in various countries, in empowering women, and so on. The figure below tries to conceptualise the social and economic development that ICTs help in bringing about in developing countries where distance and illiteracy are barriers to the improving of living conditions. Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 Healthcare . V. .7 h .‘ l_ ‘ Education i g .. , Public 1‘ Governance 7 "cu Funding Private [,1 ,/ i'ufiflfififihrmatltf; <7, Rural stability V t 1 r ‘ Dl$fiifi?flllltéfiéiii.f’ ** ‘ “ " 1 Poverty For example, the impact of ICTs is witnessed in many as- pects such as: - Natural disasters management in low-income countries. For example, the World Bank’s hazard management pro- gramme in high-risk areas of Andhra Pradesh (India) in- volves ICT components in cyclone waming, communica- tion and response, awareness raising, education and com- munity involvement in hazard reduction activities. - Efficiency of government. The Automated Systems for Customs Data (Asycuda), developed by UNCTAD, is now used by over 70 developing countries to manage tariff col- lection and reduce frontier corruption. The system speeds up goods movement, reduces transport expenses, and costs US$ 2 million to install (Kenny et al., 2000). - Children education. In Mexico, over 700,000 second- ary—school students in remote villages now have access to the Telesecundaria program, which provides televised classes and a comprehensive curriculum through closed- circuit television, satellite transmissions, and teleconferenc- ing between students and teachers. Studies have found that the program is only 16 % more expensive per pupil served than normal urban secondary schools, while students bene- fit from much smaller student-to-teacher ratios (De Moura and others, 1999). — Access to cultural resources. ICTs have also played an important role in preserving and identifying threatened or marginalized cultural artefacts and traditions. Some commentators, however, hold much more sceptical views of the benefits of ICTs for development. They argue that access to ICTs largely depends on education, income, and wealth and that the so—called digital divide is only a part of a much broader development divide. Limited education, inappropriate language skills or lack of resources could prevent disadvantaged segments of the pop- ulation from accessing ICTS, ultimately exacerbating infor- ‘ Mainly Internet and mobile phones. ’http://www.unescap.org/icsrd/applications/rurallCT/Building%20€Comun ity%20Centres%20Report.pdf Figure 2 — 1C T—based Development ModeL Social Development 1 Economic Development Transparent Market Place 1 Time Funding Arte—r" ‘Expense Job creation Source: ITC for economic and social development, EU regional workshop, Sept. 2005 mation gaps and increasing income in- equality between and within countries. It is often argued that developing countries have other, more pressing investment pri- orities, such as food, safe water, educa- tion, and public health, and that devoting limited resources to ICTs must be justi- fied on the basis of its opportunity costs relative to other development agendas. 3. Potential of lCTs for rural development Though in decline, agriculture remains the direct and indirect base for the eco- nomic livelihoods of the majority of the world’s population (IFAD, 2001). According to Albert Waterson, as quot- ed by Cohen (1987), the purpose of rural development is .1" v & saving “...to improve the standard of living of the rural population through a multi-sectorial approach including agriculture, industty, and social facilities”. Rural communities require information inter alia on sup- ply of inputs, new technologies, early waming systems (drought, pests, diseases), credit, market prices and their competitors. The success of the Green Revolution in Asia and the Near East indicates that giving rural communities access to knowledge, technology and services will contribute to ex- panding and energising agriculture. Traditional media and new ICTs have played a major role in diffusing information to rural communities, and have much more potential. There is a strong need to connect ru- ral communities, research and extension networks and to provide access to the much needed knowledge, technology and services (Form, 1999). So far, traditional media have been used very successful- ly in developing countries and rural radio in particular has played a major role in delivering agricultural messages. Print, video, television, films, slides, pictures, drama, dance, folklore, group discussions, exhibitions and demon- strations have also been used to speed up the flow of infor- mation (Munyua, 2000). New ICTs“, however, have the potential of getting vast amounts of information to rural populations in a more time- ly, comprehensive and cost-effective manner, and could be used together with traditional media. This is the reason why, recently, scholars have started to speak of “e-rural development”, which is: “... the provision of information, knowledge and business services to the people living in rural areas for improving their livelihoods using a variety of electronic means of com— mtmication.s " ICTs have the capacity to transcend physical distance and to provide communication between extended communities Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" Figure 2 A [CT-based Development Model. l— Sociai $ettetoottient Heaiiiacar Educatio ’ Private Funding Pubiic Funding £3 Govern ance gurai stahiiit’y' Ei'oiiertil Source: ITC for economic and social development, EU regional workshop, Sept. 2005 é eeonniriie §ey€§6§§¥t€tfi Eat; creation —! mation gaps and increasing income in- l equaiity between and within cottntries. it is often argued that deveio, 'ng countries have other, more pressing investment pri- orities, such as food, safe water, educa- tion, and panic heaith, and that devoting “fime iirnited resources to €955 must be insti- franspareni liv‘l arkee i’iaee Ex - a 3 ’ it 7 A :i I» it Expgnse tied on the hasrs of is opportunity eQSiS savmo reiative to other deveiopinent agendas. 3. §otentidi oi ifis tor reset deeeioptnent though decline, agriculture reniains the direct and indirect base for the eco- nornic iiveiihoods of the majority of the worid’s pcpnia‘tion tlFAifé, 2663). For exaniple, the impact of iCTs is witnessed in many as- pects such as: - Natural disasters management in tow-income countries. For exarnple, the Worid Bank’s hazard management pro- gramme in high-risk areas of Andhra Pradesh (india) volves 1C? components in cycione warning, communica- tion and response, awareness raising, education and corn- niunity invoivement in hazard reduction activities. - Efiicz'ency of government. "Ehe Automated Systems for Customs iiata (Asycuda), developed by UNCTAE, is now used by over 70 deveioping countries to manage tariff coi- iection and reduce frontier corruption. The system speeds up goods niovernent, reduces transport expenses, and costs USS 2 miiiion to instaii (Kenny et al., 266%}. - Chi’fdi‘en education. in Mexico, over 780,000 second- ary-schooi students in remote viiiages now have access to the Telesecundaria program, which provides teievised ciasses and a comprehensive curriculum through ciosed— circuit television, sateiiite transmissions, and teleconferenc- ing between students and teachers. Stitdies have found that the prograrn is only i6 % rnore expensive per pupit served than norrnal urban secondary schools, whiie stndents hone- tit from rnnch sniaiiei stadent-to-teacher ratios (De Monra and others, i999}. - Access to cuituraf resources. Eli‘s have aiso played an irnportant roie in preserving and identifying threatened or marginaiized cuiraral artefacts and traditions. Sonic commentators, however, hoid rnueh more scepticai views of benefits 0t” Kits for deveioprnent. they argue that access to iCTs iargely depends on education, incorne, and wealth and that the so-called digitcn’ divide is only a part of a broader development divide. Limited education, inappropriate iangiiage skills or lack of resonrces couid prevent disadvantaged segnients ot‘the pop— uiation from accessing iCis, iiitirnateiy exacerbating infor- niy internet and mobile phones. shttp:f/www.unescap.org/icsCdr’appiications/rum?iCTi‘/i‘miiding_g%ZOeComun ity%20Centres%20Report.chf According to Aihert Waterson, as quot— ed by Cohen {1987), the purpose of deveioprnent is “...to improve the standard qf'iivz’ng ofthe rural population througiz a multi—sectorz‘ai approach including ogricatt’tare, industry, and socialjociltties”. Rural communities require information inter alia on sup- piy of inputs, new technoiogies, eariy warning systerns (drought, pests, diseases), credit, rnaritet prices and their competitors. The success oithe Green Revolution Asia the Near East indicates giving rurai communities access to knowiedge, technology and services wiii contribute to ex- panding and energising agriculture. Traditionai rnedia and new lCTs have pia‘yed a rnajor role in diffusing information to rural communities, and have tnueh more potential. There is a strong need to connect ra- tai coininunities, research extension forks and to provide access to the much needed knowiedge, technoiogy and services (home, 1‘39}. So far, traditional media have been used very successfai- ly in devetoping countries and rural radio in particuiar has piayed a major rote in deiivering agricuitural rnessages. Print, video, teievision, titres, siides, pictures, drarna, dance, foikiore, group discussions, exhibitions and dernon- strations have also been used to speed the flow of infor- mation (Munyua, 26%). New iC'is“, however, have the potentiai or" getting vast amounts of information to r r i pocuiations in a tinie— ly, comprehensive and cost-effective manner, and could he used together with traditionai media. This is the reason why, reeentiy, scholars have started to speak of “e—rttral deveiopment”, which is: the provision of in orxeazion, knowtedge and business services to the people living in rural areas for improving their livez’ihoods usin g a variety ofei’eetront'c means ofcom- munication.5 " lCTs have the capacity to transcend physical distance and to provide communication between extended contrnunities Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" l and integration with wider social and eco- nomic networks. The increases in processing NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 Table l — Examples of ICE applications in rural contexts. speed and reductions in cost that are driving _ Mf‘mnf’" . Agnmlltm . 315mm“? In'ellhmds the digital revolution are based on a presump_ Oflliiie multimedia e-leaming Access to market information Exploring employment op- . - . . tools in CD~ROM$ etc through portals, radio, mobile portunities tron of unsatisfied demand for information. phones aci t ' ati n _ ._ As the; cap d tyt 0 supply T101: mfon ’ E—leaming using chat and Expert advice on farming, Income opportunities for at a re 'uce. COS , grovt/S SOl 6 Small 01:1“: video-conferencing facility animal husbandry, fishing, dairy— infokiosk entrepreneurs formation is seen to rise as the information mgem Somety devel_ops' The tranSformatlonal Distance education through Detection of catch fish zone us- Payment of bills through changes to socrety and the economy that re- intemet;capacitybuilding of ing satellite tracking systems infokiosk sult from shifting towards an information so- mralteachers ciety lead and transform the classical concept of rural develo ment into “e-rural develo - tional contents P men t ”. Health Community development Small business development c Telemedicine applications Interactive portals with local Micronedit financing 3’] Ru'zal Ipformahon needs and e.g. remote diagnosis and content innative languages, appllcahons In rural contexts expert medicalconsultations wehbasednewspaper A study on the information needs and inf0r_ Improved health recording Local culture preservedand E—conimerce for local artisans mation seeking behaviour of rural dwellers, System gamed thmugh mm“th conducted with the Participatory rural ap- Bet def f , _ Local. b , _al Is Im _ l _ fi . - s ‘ mm _ ter iveryo training 10 s,inatnmonr porta , pmvmg ogis cs, eg. pre- plsal t1]: 161m”; d 19 giant}, 151113;?!) - u modules for Iii-service train— Interaction with family members arranging payment and deliv- n‘ ‘35 emu“ fwor ’ .1” ‘ca 6 e 0 owmg ing ofsemi-skilled health I living incities, abroad my details before transactions as main rural information needs (Momodu, work,“ using [CT 2002). A. I ‘ l ‘ _ . . 1 . Bettermonitoringandlmowl- Facilitate knowledge sharing Market information, marketing ' Ag]. 10“ “a a Info! Mano" fill me Udcs 111' edge sharingondiseaseand among community, local gov- of products fonnatron on pestrcrdes, herbrcrdes, storage, famine eminent and grassroots NGOs . . ‘ . . , information on where to purchase fertilizers Gmmnce Emergency Siman EWmmem, and how to use them , information on speed- . . . . boats net kin ' Lodging complaints and Calling police, fire, and ambu— Weather-forecast ’ ma g’ grievances to state and lance and location and rescue of - Health Information — it includes informa- tion on how to handle the outbreak of certain epidemics, where to get the best treatment for different ailments, how to get good health fa- cilities; — Political Information — it includes informa- tion on traditional leadership, civic rights, po- litical parties, voting rights, etc.; - Community Development Information — it includes information on viable self-help proj- ects, how to mobilize people for the projects, what government agencies to contact and to lobby, etc.; - Educational Information — it includes information on school calendar, opportunities for educational self-develop- ment, higher education, adult education, continuing educa- tion, etc. Furthermore, rural dwellers also require information on e- conomic (industries, services, marketing, etc.), social (educa- tion, religion, culture, etc.) and environmental (natural re- sources, ownership rights, etc.) issues. ICTs can play a major role in providing accurate informa- tion and can have numerous applications in a rural context: redressal line amenities ‘ Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) is an approach used by non-govern- mental organizations (NGOs) and other agencies involved in internation~ al development. The approach aims at incorporating the knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management ofdevelopmenr projects and programmes. Radio broadcast for educa« Payment of state services Applications for certificates, Copy of land records Information on state schemes e.g. credit and below poverty Source: ITU (2000: 21); Sentliilkinmmn S. and Aiunachalam S. (2002). Rajora, Rajesh (2002). 53 Knowledge sharing of indig- enous farming practices Money transactions with non- resident Indians victims in emergency Emergency assistance in vehicle Neighbourhood mapping, natu- breakdown ral resource management Radio broadcasts (esp. using Satellite based tracking of ham radio) in natural calamities bush fires Disseminating early warning Local planning using 618 from national and international disaster warning systems via local infokiosks a) they can initiate new agricultural and rural business such as e-commerce, real estate business for satellite offices, rural tourism, and virtual corporation of small-scale farms; b) they can support policy-making and evaluation on 0p- timal farm production and agro-environmental resources management by using tools such as geographic information systems (G18); 0) they can improve farm management and farming tech- nologies by efficient farm management, risk management, effective information or knowledge transfer, realizing com- petitive and sustainable farming with safe products. For ex- ample, farmers must make critical decisions such as what to and when to plant, and how to manage pests, while consid- ering off-farm factors such as environmental impacts, mar- ket access, and industry standards; d) finally, ICTs can provide systems and tools to secure food traceability and reliability that became an emerging is- Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 sue concerning farm products since serious contamination such as chicken flu has been detected. 3.2 Rural information initiatives and efficient data acquisitions Most of the successful ICTs initiatives in many develop- ing are normally realized thanks to infrastructures like: - Rural kiosks - sometimes referred to as telecentres, they can be considered a sort of Internet cafes for rural villages, with one or more connected PCs available for shared use by village residents. Rural kiosks typically offer a broad range of services and applications specialized for rural areas, whereas urban cafés tend to purely focus on Internet access and standard computer applications. Kiosks are initiated by various kiosk project agencies, which identify one or more people per rural village to act as a kiosk operator. In many cases, the kiosk operator is also the kiosk owner, in which case the agency takes on a franchise model, with operators as franchisees or rural entrepreneurs. - Community Technology Learning Centres — they are centres within an elementary, middle, or high school build- ing that provides educational, recreational, health, and so- cial service programs for residents of all ages within a local community. - Distance Learning Centres- they are centres that pro- vide distance learning services, including the development and delivery of courses using online technology. - Rural Information and Knowledge Centres — they are multi-service community information centres which pro- vide access to intemet, c-mail, telephones, fax, photocopy, computer training classes and other ICT services as well act as a hub of local, national and global information resources to provide an catalytic effect for the rural communities in poverty reduction, social and economic development while aiming at providing these services in a long-term, sustain- able manner. Such Information Centres give the rural people the possi- bility to fulfil their information needs at a reduced cost, thus fostering a process of knowledge acquisition and conse- quently a process of development. To solve the problem of acquiring different agricultural data in an efficient and low cost way, some systems have been recently implemented. For example, Kouno et a1. (1998 and 2000) developed a system combined with a web camera and a metrological r0- bot to record a farm-working journal. The web camera au- tomatically collects crop images used to remotely analyse plant growth and condition. Application of web camera to agriculture is now very common as reasonably cheap cam- eras and easy-to-use software become available. Sugawara (2001) developed a mobile-phone-based fann- working journal to collect field data. 7 httpzllmodel.job.affrc.go.jp/FieldSen'er/FieldServerEn/defaulr.htm The software is web-based and one can directly upload farming data to a database from the fields. Recently, in Asia a field monitoring system called Field Server has been developed’. A Field Server has originally ordinal sensors such as tem- perature, solar radiation, moisture and soil temperature. It has very flexible interface and can optionally have several types of sensor such as a web camera, an infrared sensor, wind speed, wind direction and leaf wetness. In addition to its sensing functions, Field Server can serve as a wireless LAN access point so that each Field Server can establish a wireless network with other Field Servers. This indicates that a whole region can be covered by the Internet accessi- ble wireless hot spot, having several Field Servers deployed and just one link point to the Internet in the region. Latest version of the Field Server is completely autonomous with— out any requirement for electric supply. . A Field Server is remarkably cheap (<300 USS) and as accurate as an ordinal expensive weather robot as a sensing system. Using its wireless LAN hotspot function, this can easily be used in rural areas. Field data acquisitions will become even more important because of the recent movement toward traceability of agri- cultural products, in which information must be easily traced to the original farming conditions, e.g. varieties, pes- ticide spray, harvest dates and producer names. Anyway, it is certainly difficult to predict the future, not only regarding the kind of technologies that will emerge, but also regarding the reaction of the consumers: what they will adopt and for what purposes, and what they will reject. Increasingly, the examples of ICT applications in rural con— texts are developing: a strong participatory bottom up ap- proach should be fostered and implemented. An enabling regulatory and policy environment is re- quired for the ICT sector, including coherent national plans that integrate ICT-based development. They should help to build national and regional intemet backbones and commu- nity access points; adopt enabling policies for telecommu- nications and electronic commerce; encourage the creation and dissemination of locally relevant content and applica- tions that fit with the cultural and social context, reflecting the linguistic diversity; significantly expand education and training programs, both in general and with regard to ICT in particular; and help to create a facilitative environment and access to ICT for the civil society, private sector and government. (Drake 2001). Care should be taken so that ICT programs are not just technology-driven but respond to the needs of the poor, when it comes to content, language, skills, design, and price. It is important to address the sectors and areas that are . of direct relevance to poverty reduction and where the use of ICTs can make a difference. Local communities should be involved in the design of u- niversal access programs through consultations, surveys and demand studies. Hardware too could be developed in Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 close consultation with the poor, and in line with the devel- oping country conditions, responding to various constraints such as lack of mains energy supply or interrupted supply. Techniques such as voice mail translation of content and i- con-based telephones could be used. Such research and development already exists in devel- oping countries. India and Indonesia are developing their own customized, low-cost IT terminals and devices. 4. Two case studies: lCTs for rural develop- ment in India e Morocco 4.1. Warana: a Rural Community Adopting lCTs (India) An example of the issues involved with the adoption of ICTs by a rural community is given by the experience of the Warana Group of Co-operatives (WGC), which is using ICTs to streamline the operations connected with sugar cane growing and harvesting. Villages are the lifelines of India - and the concept of a fully automated Indian village was like a dream till some time back. It turned into reality on the initiative of Warana that is a well-developed rural area located 30 kilometres northwest of the city of Kolhapur, in Maharashtra, one of the richest Indian states“. Much of Warana’s success is due to the presence of a strong co—operative movement, the WGC. About 50,000 farmers live in 100 villages spread in the 25,000—sq kilo- metre area covered by the co-operative. The main econom- ic activity is sugar cane growing and processing. ICT was brought to this area by the Warana "Wired Vil- lage" project, launched in 1998 as a collaboration between the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the Government of Maharashtra, the Warana Vibhag Shikshan Mandal (Educa- tion Department). The right conditions to bring ICTs to Warana existed both in terms of human development and of infrastructure9 as, for instance, there is uninterrupted power supply in the area. The project aims at bringing agricultural, market and educa- tional information to 70 villages around Warana and at giving villagers access to information in local language about crops and agricultural market prices, employment schemes from the government of Maharashtra, and educational opportunities. “ Per capita income in Maharashtra stands at Rs. 19,207, which compares to an Indian average of Rs. 12,278 (Government of Maharashtra 2001). In terms of progress in raising average household consumption, Maharashtra was the fourth best performer among Indian states over the 1957-1991 period. The growth process, however, was associated with adverse distrib- utional impacts from the point of view of the poor (Datt and Ravallion 1998). As a result, in 1993-94 the percentage of the rural population liv- ing below the poverty line stood at a high 38.6 percent, slightly above the national average of 37.5 percent 9 In \Varana, there is a strong local IT capacity to build the project. The En- gineering College has a computer laboratory with around 200 PC5, where each student can practice two hours per day, and it offers courses in soft- ware development Uava, C+ +, etc.). ‘° http://www.american.edu/initeb/ae0641a/morocco.htm VI Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" VI There are 54 functioning village information kiosks that are facilitating the sugar cane production process at three stages: first, during the yearly registration for plantation when changes to property are recorded; second, with the is- suance of harvesting permits; and third, with payments in- formation. Farmers can go to the village information kiosks to receive payment slips. The sugar co-operative pays them for their crops in four instalments that are credited directly to their bank accounts. The co-operative publishes payment dates on a local paper, so farmers know when it is their turn to go to the kiosks. Moreover, farmers can purchase fertil- izer at deposits located next to the kiosks in cash or by us- ing credit. If they buy using credit, they get a receipt for their purchase at the kiosk. Money spent on transport of the crop to the sugar factory is also entered in the system. Village information kiosks have operators who enter data into computers and are generally open between 10 am. and 6 pm. Depending on the size of the village served by a kiosk, between 30 and 100 farmers Visit the kiosk daily. Vil- lage kiosks have a PC with a printer and most are connect- ed to the sugar administrative building via wireless teleph- ony. The project has already increased the efficiency of the sugar cane growing and harvesting process, both in terms of time saved by the farmers on administrative transactions and in terms of monetary gains. The estimated cost of the project is around $600,000 (Rs 2.6 crores). Of the total cost of the project 50 percent is be- ing borne by the Central Government, 40 percent by the Government of Maharashtra and the remaining 10 percent by the Warana. 4.2 Fez area government project - the eFez Project (Morocco) In Morocco, ICT was initially viewed in 1995 as an en- abling mechanism to liberalise the economy and thereby enable Morocco to participate more effectively in the glob- al economy”. It was hoped to slow the emigration of skilled workers, especially to Europe, as well as to create employ- ment opportunities. By 1996, there were already some 50 cyber cafés, an es- timated 10,000 intemet subscribers, some 50 websites, 1.4 million fixed telephone lines and an estimated 100,000 mo- bile phones. Morocco’s ITC penetration has been increasing steady and stands at around 1.6% per year but the high costs of Net access, PCs and ISP subscription rates are the main reasons why most Moroccans do not have home access. In this frame, several initiatives have been launched to spread the availability and use of the Internet and to be more responsive to local needs. E-govemment is an essential part of this strategy, but to date almost all Moroccan government web sites are largely informational, since they describe a department’s roles and functions, but do not allow citizens to have electronic ac- cess to services. , NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 Most government services, such as getting a passport or acquiring the papers required to register to vote, still can only be accessed through government offices in the capital, Rabat, or in big cities like Casablanca. In the developing context of Morocco, the eFez project, launched by the municipality of Fez in partnership with the research team of the ICT-for-Development Laboratory (ICT4D Lab) at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and funded by the IDRC, has proved to be a local e-Govem- ment success story. By making simplified processes accessible through GSM phones (widely used in Morocco), Personal Digital Assis- tants (PDAs) and personal computers, the eFez helps giving all citizens of the urban and rural areas around Fez equal ac- cess to services, reducing bureaucratic delays, making ad- ministrative procedures more transparent and visible, and using government human resources more efficiently. In order to allow users to access services and request doc- uments (such as residency certificates, birth certificates, and marital status certificates), the Fez Wilaya (local ad- ministration) has installed free public digital kiosks in dif— ferent areas. Following such a participatory and iterative methodological approach, eFez is succeeding in building a citizen-centric e-government system that is accessible, us- able and acceptable among Fez local community members, regardless of their degree of basic literacy and/or familiari- ty with ICT use. 5. Conclusions The importance of knowledge for development is well recognised (World Bank, 1999). Knowledge is a central foundation of human and eco- nomic development. Technological revolution in ICTs has led to the emergence of a knowledge economy but the in- ability of developing countries to maximise the benefits of this revolution is a significant barrier to their participation in this knowledge economy. Information and communication activities are fundamen- tal elements of any development activity, especially in the less developed countries and in rural areas. The ICTs’ benefits are multiple and can enhance rural de- velopment initiatives in the following key areas: a) Managing, storing, and sharing information ICTs offer unprecedented information storage capacity, increase in processing power and speed, coupled with dra— matic reductions in costs. ICTs can facilitate the improve- ment of existing information management processes by im- proving the easy access, transparency, accountability, effi- ciency, speed of delivery and providing new information sharing opportunities through affordability, availability and ease of use. ICTs can help addressing good governance concerns of greater administrative efficiency by improving existing formal information systems operated by local gov- ernment and development agencies and also facilitate im- proved cataloguing, storing and sharing of locally relevant information. The extended multi-media capabilities of new technologies offer the potential for storage and presentation of information in formats more appropriate to local con- texts and therefore encourage greater integration of differ- ent information systems. Above all ICTs offer potential for decentralisation of information systems, decreasing de- pendency and empowering the rural poor by devolving con- trol over information and knowledge. b) Access to more information, especially public informa- tion The context of rural development has rapidly changed in recent years. In terms of market opportunities, emerging agricultural technologies are increasingly information intensive and the poor rurals must now cope with increasingly sophisticated input and output markets. Most smallholders and the rural institutions that represent them are badly equipped to cope with the vagaries of the open market. Improving the infor- mation management and decision-making capacity of these institutions is essential if they are willing to ‘make markets work for the poor’. ICTs offer huge potential in support of improved education and training and need to be harnessed to build long term decision—making capacity in rural areas. ICTs can also support improved provision of short-term information required by the rural poor for liveli- hood strategies. Furthermore the poor are increasingly expected to take on responsibility for management and financing of rural serv- ices, e.g. water supplies, and to participate in recently de- centralised systems of governance; ICTs offer them consid- erable potential to increase the benefits and reduce the op- portunity costs of participation. c) Creating linkages for partnerships in information shar- ing (mutual, two-way, participatory) As noted above ICTs can help empowering poor people to take control of their knowledge environment. This can lead to improved sharing of information locally resulting in greater choices for livelihood strategies, e.g. cataloguing and sharing experience between farmers. Local information exchange can help the poor rurals to gather into groups, ar- ticulate needs, defend interests and to increase bargaining power. ICTs can help pro-poor institutions listen to the poor, engage in more meaningful dialogue and build con- sensus and mutual understanding around development ob- jectives. ICTs provide practical opportunities for improved information exchange between different groups and new and innovative knowledge partnerships. Clearly, there are constraints to the application of ICTs in rural development and many of these reflect long-standing development problems. The main constraints concern the inequitable access to information, the costs of ICT in terms of infrastructure, hardware, telecommunication tariffs, and content, the lack of “digital literacy” in developing coun- Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" NEW MEDIT N. 1/2008 tries as well as the lack of robust regulatory framework for ICTs. Being aware that ICTs provide a unique opportunity to move beyond centralized models of planning, management and governance, developing countries must anyway be careful not to conceive of ICTs as a sort of panacea. Simply layering these technologies on existing systems, bureaucra- cies and processes will not achieve development objectives. Sustainable ICT projects must be locally owned and ac- companied by human capacity development, to ensure the ability of individuals and communities to use, maintain, and fully benefit from their usage. References Anderson J. et al., 1999. Applying the lessons of partici- patory communication and training to rural telecentres. FAO, Rome Italy. 5 pp. Balit S. in collaboration with FAO Communication for development Group, 1999. Voices for change: rural women and communication. pp 37. FAQ, Extension and Training Division. Communication for Development Group, Exten- sion, Education and Communication Service. Cohen R., 1987. One compute); Two Languages, Educa- tion and Computing, N°4, Elsevier Science Publishers, 145- 149. CTA, 1999. Reducing poverty through agricultural sector strategies in eastern and southern Africa. Proceedings of a - Workshop organised by CTA and the European Commis- sion. Wageningen, The Netherlands, 23-25 November 1998. 96 pp. Datt G. and Ravallion M., 1998. Why Have Some Indian States Done Better Than Others at Reducing Rural Pover— ty?, Economica, Vol. 65, No. 257, Feb., 1998, pp.17—38. De Moura C., Wolff L. and Garcia N., 1999. Mexicos Telesecundaria. In: “TechKnowLogia”, May/June. Drake J., 2001. Democracy and the Information Revolu- tion. — Background paper for Democracy Forum. IDEA, S- tockholm. June 27-29, 2001. Fomo M., 1999. Building the Knowledge Economy: is- sues, applications, case studies, IOS Press. Government of Maharashtra, 2001. Minister for Rural Development, Report 2001. Heeks R., 1999. Information and communication tech— nologies, poverty and development. Development Informat- ics Working Paper Series. Paper no. 5. Institute for Devel- opment Policy and Management, Manchester (UK). 19 pp. Supplied by The British Library - "The world's knowledge" IFAD, 2001. Rural Poverty Report 2001 - The Challenge of Ending Rural Poverty. ITC for economic and social development, EU regional workshop, Sept. 2005. International Telecommunication Union, World Telecom- numication Development Report 2006. Measuring 1 CT for so- cial and economic development, Executive Summery, 2007. Kenny G, Navas-Sabater J. and Quanf C.Z., 2000. [CE and poverty. The World Bank, Washington, p.42. Kouno T., 1998. Internet Remote Camera System and its Application to Agriculture, in Proceedings of the Second European Conference of the European Federation for Infor- mation Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environ- ment, Bonn 1998. Munyua C., 2000. The role of computers and information technology in rural agricultural information systems, Har- vard Press. Momodu M.O., 2002. Information needs and information seeking behaviour of rural dwellers in Nigeria: a case study of Ehpoma in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo S- tate, Nigeria. Library Review,(51) 8, 406—410. Pastemack A. and Viscio J., 1998. The Centerless Corpo- ration, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources. Sugawara S, 2001. Rural Commzmications the 5th Inter— national Symposium on Multi—Dimensional Mobile Com- munications Proceedings. The 2004 Joint Conference of the 10th Asia-Pacific Conference. Web references The Milan Declaration: http://na.amarc.org/?p=The_Milan_Declaration Information and communications technologies for devel- opment. UNDP, 2000, New York: http://www.undp.org/info21/index5.htm http://www.undp.org/inf021/pilot/pi-sa.htm1 http://www.undp.org/inf021/ ITU (Information and Telecommunication Union). http://www7.itu.int/itudfg7/About/Means_Methods.html, http://www7.itu.int/itudfg7/fg7/CaseLibrary/ Case_Library.html Warana: The Case of an Indian Rural Community Adopting ICT:unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/Other/ UNPAN022417.pdf E-Fez Project: www.loginafrica.net/loginafricanew/inner.php?table=general &linkid=70&head=Morocco. ...
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