e-STAS 2008 (I). Raul Zambrano: ICTs, Digital Divide and Social Inclusion

e-STAS is a Symposium about the Technologies for the Social Action, with an international and multi-stakeholder nature, where all the agents implicated in the development and implementation of the ICT (NGO’s, Local authorities, Universities, Companies and Media) are appointed in an aim to promote, foster and adapt the use of the ICT for the social action.

Here come my notes for session I.

Raul Zambrano, UNDP
ICTs, Digital Divide and Social Inclusion

Four stages of ICT Development

  • connectivity, get people connected
  • content and have people have capacities to deal with it
  • services
  • participation, Web 2.0

Digital divide

  • Within countries
  • Among countries
  • Within and among countries

The difference between the digital divide in developed countries and developing ones is that in developing ones is but another manifestation of other divides — this is not necessarily this way in developed countries.

How can technology bride social divides, not technological divides?

Divides: differences attributed to knowledge, and differences dues to more physical and human capital.

Both the speed of adoption and the speed of diffusion of technologies are have very different paths in developed and developing countries [So, it’s not just that leapfrogging can be made possible (adoption), but it has to be actually fostered (diffusion). But, part of fostering diffusion to achieve quicker and broader adoption is about giving the population what they need and/or are asking for].

Thus, in the policy cycle (social gaps, awareness raising, citizen participation, agenda setting, policy design, development focused, implementation, evaluation/assessment, reduction of social gaps, new emerging issues), these population needs must be taken into account when designing public policies.

In this policy cycle, networking is crucial to gather all sensibilities and ensure that participation does take place. If there is not citizen participation, public policies are likely to be government’s or lobbies’ interests biased.

All in all, it’s about empowerment.

Comments, questions

I ask whether it’s better push (public led) or pull (private sector led) strategies.

Raul Zambrano answers in the framework of developing countries. In these developing countries, the Estate is to foster and create aggregated demand, it is the main purchaser, investor and installer of ICTs (infrastructures, services, etc.).

On the other hand, it is true that there is a latent demand from the citizenry, and there already is a manifested need for ICTs.

About the private sector, the problem in developing countries is that the private sector might not have resources enough to set up pull strategies. Or maybe they could, but it still makes poor sense for them when looking at the Return of Investment. This is especially true with developed countries firms trying to get established in developing countries, though local enterprises might not think (and behave) alike, and find it’s huge benefits what elsewhere might not even make it worth it trying.

So, put short, in developing countries what seems to be working is a centralized model but progressively decentralized [as the subsidiarity principle in the European Union, I’d dare add].

Do we need to keep on working on access (if everyone already has a cellular)?

Yes, definitely, but not as an independent variable but as a dependent one [this is one of the cleverest statements I’ve heard in months about the digital divide].

Paco Ortiz (AHCIET) intervenes in this issue: incumbent telecomms normally pay a ratio of their profits to governments so the latter can help solve the last mile issue. The problem being that once these governments have cash to do so, the sometimes shift the funds to other priorities — no critique intended: these priorities can be Education or Health. Thus, legitimate or not, the result is that universal access is never achieved, but not at the private sector’s fault.

One person from the audience harshly attacks governments for their corruption, which invalidates them to foster any kind of policy or to get any kind of funding from whom ever.

Raul Zambrano states that it is precisely transparency and accountability one of the main goals of ICTs in the sphere of the government.

e-Stas 2008, Symposium on Technologies for Social Action (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “e-STAS 2008 (I). Raul Zambrano: ICTs, Digital Divide and Social Inclusion” In ICTlogy, #55, April 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=706

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1 Comment to “e-STAS 2008 (I). Raul Zambrano: ICTs, Digital Divide and Social Inclusion” »

  1. Hello, Isma, so I see you managed to blog a little, after all. Good, I was really hoping to follow your comments about the event. I got specially interested about Raul`s statement that access should be considered as a dependant variable. Could you elaborate a little on this? Muchas gracias. :)

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