Village voice: towards inclusive information technologies
A decade ago it was dubbed the ‘digital divide’. Now, the gap in information and communications technologies (ICTs) between North and South is slowly shrinking. The developing world accounts for two-thirds of total mobile phone subscriptions, and Africa has the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. By gaining a toehold in affordable ICTs, the poor can access the knowledge and services they need, such as real-time market prices, to boost their livelihoods. But to be sustainable, technologies need to factor in social realities. These include how people already share knowledge, and adapt to introduced technologies: mobile phones, for instance, confer status but can eat into much-needed income. Many development agencies opt for technology-led solutions that fail to ‘take’. Participatory approaches that keep development concerns at their core and people as their central focus are key.