Najat Rochdi: Innovating in the Use of ICT for Human Development: the Key in the Transition to a New Phase in ICT4D

Notes from the the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Innovating in the Use of ICT for Human Development: the Key in the Transition to a New Phase in ICT4D
Najat Rochdi, Deputy Director in charge of Policy, Communication and Operation at the UNDP Liaison Office in Geneva

The goal: achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Can we do it the proper way?

What’s the connection between ICTs and poverty alleviation? What does it really mean ICT4D?

And it’s not about the poorest ones only: the crisis that began in 2008 — and it’s absolutely blasting in 2009 — is also about how ICTs can contribute to alleviate its effects. Access should be able to enable people to progress. But access is unevenly distributed.

The private sector has lead innovations in the ICT field. The development sector should also be reached by such innovation processes: new ideas and new applications of old ideas. We need to leverage knowledge. We have to shape the changes, not be shaped by the changes.

A new digital aid is coming, based on the citizen, on the individual, empowered by the web 2.0 and the upcoming web 3.0.

Web 2.0, added to text messaging, is opening a new landscape of participation and democracy. The web 2.0 and mobile technologies do not only increase development by empowerment, but also create new markets that make it sustainable.

Sharing is the key to ICT4D success: share methodologies and instruments, best practices, research, data, etc.

But there’s urgency in pursuing these goals and putting hands to work in ICT4D related issues. And commitment is needed too. The resources, the human capital, the technology… everything is out there, but we need to bring it to the ones that need it, and we need to do it with a broad political support.

Take hold of the future or the future will take hold of you.


Q: how do we know we’re really addressing the real needs? A: It’s a collective responsibility. We have to abandon the idea that development agencies and organizations know everything, and that there’s so much to learn from local communities, that we have to engage them in the making of the projects.

Caroline Figueres: Participation and communication is already happening on the field. The problem is that is not being known elsewhere. We have to make it sure everything is well known.

Q: What happens when there’s no infrastructure? A: Mobile technologies seem to be helping in the infrastructures issue. On the other hand, it’s important to catalyse the demand, so that the private sector sees there’s a niche, a need to be covered that can report benefits. A holistic, multi-stakeholder approach is what has to be solved beforehand.

Q: Why is there not an international political commitment to apply the same energies to poverty alleviation than to the financial crisis? A:

Manuel Acevedo: Next step? A: We need scalable initiatives. To do so, from the beginning a quantitative approach has to be made so that sustainability can be (sort of) calculated and know that there is a potentially high probability of success. We do not use to document projects, to see whether we can share outcomes and learnings, specially methodologies. We have to end up with experimentation, and go to the field scientifically prepared. We have to innovate (i.e. apply tested things), do not experiment.

Anriette Esterhuysen: (re: Caroline Figueres) it’s not already happening. There is no continuity, hence there is no scalability. On the other hand, there’s lack of capacity and ability to communicate knowledge. And, in this time of crisis, what will happen to ICT4D projects and institutions? A: ICT4D is not marketing issue you can cut down to reduce costs. Is a matter of international survival, so commitment will (hopefully) stand. The private sector is playing a most important role in developing countries and is there to stay, it’s boosting and changing a mindset change.


Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)

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

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Najat Rochdi: Innovating in the Use of ICT for Human Development: the Key in the Transition to a New Phase in ICT4D” In ICTlogy, #65, February 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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2 Comments to “Najat Rochdi: Innovating in the Use of ICT for Human Development: the Key in the Transition to a New Phase in ICT4D” »

  1. Thanks for this great post Ismael and all the other you did so far! :-) Really liked this one. It is very interesting to see how development organizations seem quite overwhelmed by this new shift and how little they have yet grasped the potential of developing solutions on the local level by letting people decide what they need most.

  2. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Coop 2.0 Gijon - Aftermath

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