The advancement towards an Information Society has paved international debate on bridging the digital divide as a catalyst and growth engine for the development of countries and communities, particularly the relatively poorer majority. Affordable access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has conventionally been synonymous with use. However, the discrepancy between not just rich and poor, but knowledge and ignorance and other factors of social stratification and human development among and within countries have also been pertinent in perpetuating and exacerbating the ‘digital divide’.
Drivers of ICTs diffusion and adoption in society (Network Readiness) and its development potential- particularly the Internet, is not well understood, and often misunderstood, in the developing regions of the Pacific. It has, therefore, in cases been a huge drain on the public purse with varied success against development planning. For most Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and Developing Countries (DCs) the problem is access or use, or both depending on the technology. With as low as around 1 per cent internet penetration rate (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Laos, Tonga) it is perhaps not surprising that services like e-governance, e-commerce, and e-learning as encouraged by the UN and ITU World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) initiatives are not priorities on their development agendas. More importantly, underlying concerns of limited Internet access are even more basic issues relating to the perceived need and potential benefits of this technology in the development contexts within LDCs and DCs.
The paper proposes to address five areas of discussion.
1. Creating the Information Society, the ‘Divide’, and the idea of ‘Readiness’
2. The relationship between Human Development Index Components (HDI) and Network Readiness
3. The dynamics of Network Readiness (an example from Laos)
4. Assessing a Network Readiness (NR) anomaly- case study of the Kingdom of Tonga
5. ICT for Development: Issues and Implications
|Keywords:||Information Communication Technology, Digital Divide, Network Readiness, Empowerment|
Phd Student, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio Univeristy, Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan
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