ICT Policies in Developing Countries: Objectives, Issues and Influencing Factors

ICT Policies in Developing Countries: Objectives, Issues and Influencing Factors

Enovwor Laura Ogbah (Delta State University Library, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch018
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This chapter focuses on the objectives, issues and influencing factors of national ICT policies in developing countries. It points out how policy has become the driving force for ICT growth; how it can empower a nation and transform its social and economic life thereby improving on the quality of life of its citizens. It further discusses the objectives and issues of ICT policy. It later examines the factors that affect ICT policy Examples of some developing countries in Africa and Asia with national ICT policies were also given. The chapter concludes that unless a strong national policy institution with dedicated policy decision makers charged with the responsibility of monitoring ICT policy implementation are in place, ICT policies will not be effective in developing countries.
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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) potentially offer diverse benefits for developing and least-developed countries in relation to the production and dissemination of, and access to, knowledge and information. A major difficulty in discussing the application of computing technology in developing countries is that such countries as a group are quite heterogeneous. Developing counties differ widely in both the extent to which they have introduced computer and networking technologies and the extent to which the necessary infrastructure exists for exploiting the technologies (Adeyeye & Iweha 2005).

According to Dzidonu & Siochru (2000), cited by Dzidonu (2002) the emerging information age characterized by ICTs and the extraordinary increase in the spread of knowledge has given rise to an era of knowledge and information. These technologies are offering even less developed countries like those in Africa the opportunity to transform their economies and accelerate their socio-economic development process as part of addressing the challenges of globalization and the socio-economic implications of the widening digital divide.

ICT has become a subject of great importance especially in this present day society. Its importance cannot be over emphasized because it has the ability to empower the society. During the last 20 years, ICTs have provided a wealth of new technological opportunities, with the rapid deployment of both the Internet and cellular telephony leading the way. These technologies have invaded every country that is willing to accept them. The most important differentiating factor now is policy. Policy makes the fundamental difference regarding how countries are able to take advantage of the technological opportunities available to them and exploit them for good (Sarkar De, 2005).

ICT policies play vital roles in facilitating ICT developments, promoting investment in the ICT industry that will in turn boost the nation’s economy. ICT policies ensure that ICT is affordable and accessible and is also able to address issues on ethical and moral conducts, copyright and cyber crimes. ICT policies offer certain conveniences such as ensuring the development of information infrastructure, information transfer in a nation, proper information planning development, low cost of access, efficiency in the provision of telecommunication network, to mention but a few. ICT policies can contribute to increasing the development rate in developing countries because they serve as development infrastructure facilitators. The rapid growth in the field of ICT and the growth of the information services sector have radically changed the world. These changes have given birth to a new society. According to Dzidonu (2002), if developing countries are to achieve rapid and radical social and economic transformation in the new information age, to be dominated by information and knowledge-based economies, they will need to implement comprehensive ICT-led socio-economic development policies, strategies and plans. It is in the light of this that this chapter discusses objectives of national ICT policies in developing countries, ICT policy issues, critical success factor and future trends of the national ICT policies

Key Terms in this Chapter

Developing Countries: Countries with low income per capita of population, that are trying to improve their conditions through industrialization.

Policy: Is a plan of action usually based on certain principles, devised by a body.

Information and Communication Technologies: Are technologies or tools that are used in capturing, processing, disseminating and accessing information irrespective of time and distance.

Influencing Factors of ICT Policies: Are the circumstances that have the power to affect ICT policies.

Information and Communication Technologies Policies: Are plans of action to guide decisions and actions pertaining to information and communication technologies.

National ICT Policy: Is ICT plan of action intended to guide decisions and actions towards ICT development and utilization in a country.

End Users: Are the individuals who make use of ICT facilities and services.

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