Information and Communication Technology (ICT) National Policies & Case Studies
As part of a project in support of the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), one of The Communication Initiative (The CI)'s partners, The CI recently carried out research to identify national ICT policies and case studies from around the world. This project has thus far resulted in the summary inclusion of 25 policies and 24 case studies on The CI website. Additional policies are currently being researched and will be added in the future. The case studies attempt to demonstrate development impact and lessons learned on the practical implementation of ICT for development (ICT4D), with a particular focus on 3 sectors: agriculture, education, and health.
This issue of The Drum Beat features a small selection of those national policies and case studies.
A SELECTION OF POLICIES
1. Afghanistan ICT4D National Policy (2003)
Sectors Covered: Economy, Education, Government, Health, and Infrastructure.
This policy focuses on addressing information and capacity building issues. The overall objective of the policy is to enable Afghanistan to further benefit from ICT by becoming part of the global information society while preserving Afghanistan's cultural heritage, promoting national goals, achieving a tolerant and vibrant Afghanistan, improving government and social services, advancing the rebuilding process, increasing employment, creating a dynamic private sector, reducing poverty, and supporting underprivileged groups. The other specific objectives of the policy include extensively adopting ICT in order to improve all aspects of Afghan life, such as education, health, employment and access to information; cultivating the local ICT industry in order to foster investment and employment generation in this sector; and utilising ICT to increase government efficiency and effective delivery of improved social services.
2. Bhutan ICT4D National Policy (2004)
Sectors Covered: Policy, Infrastructure, Human Resources, Content and Applications, and Economy.
The development of the Bhutan Information and Communication Technology Policy and Strategy (BIPS) involved multiple stakeholders and resulted in the formation of 5 committees - policy, human capacity, infrastructure, enterprise, and content and applications - responsible for developing strategies and activities to advance Bhutan’s integration of ICT. The BIPS has 3 overarching policy objectives: the use of ICT for the purposes of good governance; the creation of an info-culture in Bhutan; and the development of a "High-Tech Habitat". The guiding principles to achieving these objectives are strong government leadership, convergence of ICT markets and technologies, and a strong public-private partnership.
3. Botswana ICT4D National Policy [Draft] (2005)
Sectors Covered: Agriculture, Civil Society, Economy, Education, Government, Health, Law, and Infrastructure.
This policy was developed over a 6-month period in 2004 through the direction of a national steering committee and 7 task forces established to address the following areas: Community Access and Development, Government, Learning, Health, Economic Development and Growth of the ICT Sector, Infrastructure and Security, and Legal and Policy. The policy is meant to build an enabling environment for the growth of the country's ICT industry, providing universal service and nationwide access to information and communication facilities, and positioning Botswana as a global competitor. It also aims to provide an efficient and cost-effective ICT infrastructure, establish universal access to local and relevant information, institute an ICT legal framework, and enhance government services and health care through the use of ICTs.
4. Cambodia ICT4D National Education Policy (2005)
This policy document was developed in keeping with Cambodia's "Education for All" vision of ensuring all citizens equal access to basic quality education, and to prepare them to participate actively in Cambodia's reconstruction and integration into the knowledge-based global community. The policy was developed in consultation with national and international partners and places emphasis on the role of ICT in distance education, the training of professionals, non-formal education, and the quality of education at the upper-secondary and post-secondary levels, in recognition of the importance of ICT skills in a knowledge-based society.
5. Gambia ICT4D National Policy (2004)
Sectors Covered: Agriculture, Civil Society, Economy, Education, Government, Health, Law, and Infrastructure.
Based on a 2003 ICT assessment, this policy and plan development process in the Gambia was designed to address the areas where ICT would facilitate the transformation of the Gambia into a middle-income country by 2020 through accelerating private sector development, restructuring economic management, developing the human capital base, and institutionalising decentralised and democratic participatory government structures, processes and systems. It was also designed to address the following 4 strategic issues: strengthening the productive capacity of the economically poor; enhancing access to and the performance of social services; undertaking local-level capacity building; and promoting participatory communication processes.
6. Jamaica ICT4D Agricultural Policy (2005)
Central to Jamaica's economy, the country's agricultural sector employed approximately 19% of its labour force and accounted for more than one-tenth of its merchandise exports in 2004. The sector currently faces the challenge of improving upon its efficiency, competitiveness, and productivity in order to be able to contribute as planned to the gross domestic product (GDP). Exacerbating these challenges is the use of inappropriate technologies, an issue the Ministry of Agriculture hopes to address through a sector transformation programme that includes the adoption of appropriate technologies. Technology transfer and research is among the 5 major strategic platforms the Ministry of Agriculture plans to leverage in order to improve upon the sector's competitiveness and efficiency, and thereby increase its contribution to Jamaica's economic growth.
The impact that ICTs can have on sustainable development, and in particular, agriculture, has been highlighted through the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and other global platforms. The realisation of the effective application of e-agriculture has become a major priority for the international community. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was given the responsibility for facilitation of the Action Line on e-agriculture in the WSIS Plan of Action, and the first major activity is the development of a worldwide survey.
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7. Kenya ICT4D National Policy (2006)
Sectors Covered: Economy, Government, Health, and Education.
Based on the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Model, this policy aims to encourage sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, promote social justice and equity, mainstream gender in national development, empower youth and disadvantaged groups, stimulate investment and innovation in ICT, and achieve universal access. In general, this policy addresses market structure, policy objectives and targets, implementation strategies, universal access, and the institutional framework of information technology (IT), broadcasting, telecommunications, radio frequency spectrum, and postal services.
8. Mongolia ICT4D National Strategy (2006)
Sectors Covered: Government, Economy, Industry, Education, Citizen Services, and Health.
This policy aims to develop Mongolia into an information and knowledge-based society through the integration of ICT into all societal sectors. The government's Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA), formed in late 2004, is responsible for the country's ICT policies and their coordination and implementation; the non-governmental organisation Mongolian Information Development Association (MIDAS), made up of ICT professionals drawn from civil society in Sri Lanka, consults with government on ICT policies and issues and assists with the implementation of ICT programmes.
9. Qatar ICT4D National Policy (2005)
Sectors Covered: Civil Society, Economy, Education, Government, Health, Human Resource Development, Law, and Infrastructure.
ictQATAR was formed by royal decree in 2004 to be both a regulator and enabler of Qatar's ICT sector. The development of this policy was influenced by relevant international best practices and a comprehensive campaign to engage and dialogue with stakeholders in the public and private sector. The policy consists of 12 development programmes, including State-of-the-Art Infrastructure, Innovation and Capability Building, Regulatory and Legal Framework, Safety and Security, Connected Citizens, Connected Business, Connected Government, e-Education, e-Health, e-Finance, e-Tourism and Sports, and ICT in other Economic Sectors.
10. Trinidad and Tobago ICT4D National Policy (2003)
Sectors Covered: Human Resources, Economy, Government, Legal, and Infrastructure.
This national strategy seeks to leverage ICT to expedite Trinidad and Tobago's social, cultural, and economic development. The policy lays out an action plan for achievement of its objectives by 2008; these objectives include: ensuring citizens have access to affordable internet; prioritising child and adult skills development in ICT; promoting citizen access and confidence by focusing on good governance; and maximising citizen potential and innovation to create a knowledge-based society.
11. Yemen ICT4D Sectoral Policy - Education (2005)
This policy was developed through a participatory approach that involved gathering the input of stakeholders from various disciplines of Yemeni universities, high-level representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR), and representatives from the private ICT sector during a conference held in Aden in April of 2004. The policy vision is to utilise ICT in the higher education sector in order to strengthen its contribution to the sustainable development of the country.
A SELECTION OF CASE STUDIES
12. Health and ICT Case Study (2003) - Peru
Alerta Disease Surveillance pilot project
Voxiva, a social venture, has developed a technology platform called Alerta that is able to collect and disseminate data from a large number of people in disparate locations, without internet access, in real time. This platform includes a simplified reporting information transferal system and health information database, and a user-friendly audio interface that enables Alerta users to submit health reports via telephone. The pilot system connected approximately 204,000 individuals in 2 areas of low population density, and incorporated 76 health centres, health clinics, and district centres. Near the pilot project's end, a survey indicated that 90% of respondents using the system saw the faster response time of supervisors as a main benefit of the system, while 70% stated that greater communication with supervisors and colleagues was a primary benefit. Fifty percent stated that reporting was facilitated, while 40% believed that a greater number of cases were reported, and 40% stated time-savings over the paper-based system. A number of lessons learned were noted in this study as well.
13. Education and ICT Case Study (2005) - Yemen
The Yemeni High School Internet Pilot Project
This project involved creating a learning network between high schools throughout Yemen and connecting them with high schools in the United States. The primary objectives for the project are to: improve teachers' ability to facilitate student-centred lessons through ICT; improve students' learning, especially that of girls, by helping them access information through the use of the internet for research; assess the potential of the internet to serve as a teaching and learning tool at the high school level; and create professional development networks for Yemeni educators, especially female teachers and students with limited mobility. Key to the success of this project was the opening of the computer labs to the community, which expanded the reach of the project and increased cost effectiveness.
14. Agriculture and ICT Case Study (2003) - China
How to Avoid Stumbling in the Last Kilometer: The Case of Quzhou Agricultural Technology 110
This project utilised a 24-hour telephone hotline giving farmers information on agricultural technologies and market conditions, as well as an administrative system and a network of information centres. Launched in 1998, by 2001 the seemingly successful project began to show signs of failing due to farmer's distances from local centres and local centres’ lack of technical equipment, training, and financial stability. In recognition of the limited use of computers in rural areas, radio stations, newspapers, and television stations worked to broaden the flow of agricultural information. An NJ 110 service station was established in each village, with defined standards designed to keep it operational and accessible to farmers and an "Information Man" who is appointed to manage the station. Professionals and volunteers are dispatched by the local government to visit the villages, carrying out computer demonstrations and tutorials in farmers' yards. NJ 110 associations have also been developed in an attempt to organise farmers and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas. As a result of NJ 110's effectiveness, the agricultural information model has been extended throughout the Zheijiang province with the support of the provincial government.
15. Women's Development and ICT Case Study (2005) - Sierra Leone
Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship
Development Through Radio: A Case Study from Sierra Leone
In collaboration with the Forum for African Media Women (FAMW), The Forum of Conscience (FOC) set out to establish a Development Through Radio Project (DTRP) in Sierra Leone that would provide a channel through which women could voice their views on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process and bring gender issues to the fore. After a feasibility study, in-depth consultations with selected communities and a training-of-trainers workshop, FAMW and FOC agreed to use the DTRP to encourage communities to undertake projects that promote sustainable development. As of this study, the DTRP in Sierra Leone is currently active in 30 communities in the North, South, and Eastern Provinces. By having a voice on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), participants have been assisted in implementing a number of initiatives including: market centres, training and sensitisation on health concerns, discussions on human rights issues, a skills enhancement programme, marketing efforts for products, and adult literacy programmes. Several lessons learned are noted.
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16. Rural Development and ICT Case Study (2005) - Solomon Islands
Impact of ICT on Rural Development in Solomon Islands: the PFnet (People First Network) Case
This community-based project was implemented to improve the flow of information to rural people and peacekeepers in remote communities throughout the Solomon Islands. Through PFnet, individuals are able to go to their nearest email station and, for a fee of $S2.00 (or $US 0.26), send an email message. Receiving messages is free, largely to encourage large numbers of people to use the service. Operators at each email station type and send (for $S5.00 or $US 0.65 per page) messages handwritten or dictated by the customer. Literacy is therefore not a deterrent to the use of these email stations. The PFnet service has aided regional efforts toward peace building, security, and political reconciliation by facilitating the relaying of accurate news and reducing the incidences of false information being accepted as fact. Physical proximity to an email station was a key factor in people using them.
17. Women's Development and ICT Case Study (2003) - Kenya
Gender and ICTs
Strengthening Electronic Communications Capacities of Women's Organisations in Africa
The primary objectives of this project are to improve African women's use of and access to the internet, as well as to influence policy makers in order to ensure the inclusion of gender perspectives in the ICT policy making process. Through training workshops and seminars, the project developed a strong and focused core group of women across Africa that has helped to accomplish the project objectives. Among the outcomes of this project: some women's groups who have undergone training have become self-sufficient due to the income generated through the application of their IT skills; an African women's information network has been established; and gender-sensitive ICT guides for African women's organisations have been produced.
18. Rural Development and ICT Case Study (2003) - India
Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), Dehra Dun, India
RLEK has, under the banner of this initiative, implemented the use of a wireless communication system in the relaying of information between isolated tribal communities. According to this case study, forest practices that are community-based and community-managed often fare better and are more sustainable than those models that are formulated and controlled by the state. In this project, the community was supplied with approximately 80 wireless telephone handsets. Wireless users have reported an ease of operation and a strong sense of empowerment in their maintenance of their forest community. Members who have used the sets expressed satisfaction with being able to quickly and easily communicate with others. Being able to report poaching, illegal cutting, fires and medical emergencies has given a sense of security, confidence, and authority to the community.
19. Health and ICT Case Study (2003) - South Africa
The Compliance Services TB Treatment through Short Message Service (SMS)
The primary objective of this project is to alert Tuberculosis (TB) patients to take their medication through the use of SMS, therefore increasing recovery rates of patients and lessening the financial and physical burden on the public healthcare system in Cape Town, South Africa. According to this study, the project implementer uses low-cost and robust technology, such as an open source software operating system, web server, mail transport agent, applications, and a database to send personalised messages every half an hour to TB patients, whose contact details have been inputted into a central database, to remind them to take their medication. He charges the local health authority R11.80 per patient per month to run the SMS reminder service. The success rate of the pilot project was nearly 100%.
20. Agriculture and ICT Case Study (2005) - Russia
Agricultural Reform Implementation Support (ARIS) Project
Rural Information and Knowledge System - A Case Study from Russia
The ARIS project was initiated in 1994 to address such issues as the macroeconomic imbalances in Russia, outdated farm structures, and lack of competitive international markets or a well-functioning credit system. The author notes that the legacy of state-controlled information systems - as well as the problems of the lack of access to markets and technical information and the lack of awareness by those engaged in agriculture of how to function in a market economy - were also particular challenges to the goal of modernising the Russian agricultural sector. The main objective of the project was to facilitate the free flow of information and knowledge to improve the decision-making capabilities of different types of emerging public and private rural enterprises. The approach taken to achieve this was a modular "Four M" concept: Multi-media to develop and disseminate Multi-disciplinary information and knowledge from Multiple sources to Multiple users with built-in user needs assessment and feedback mechanisms. Several lessons learned are noted.
The research for this project was conducted for The Communication Initiative by Jennifer Savidge.
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