People's Initiatices to use IT for Development

2001 Occasional Paper
By Hijab, Nadia

The importance of information technology (IT) to developing countries is still hotly disputed. Some quarters view new IT tools as a luxury for people living in poverty.1 Others argue, equally passionately, that IT opens the door to economic opportunity, social and political mobilization, health care, and education. They believe that people’s inability to use IT is a disadvantage serious enough to set alongside economic, social, and other factors in the way of rights and development. For a growing number of people around the world, the question has been settled. They have made it their mission to enable those disadvantaged by poverty, gender, ethnic background or geographic location to use IT to access information and knowledge, with the aim of opening the door to economic and other opportunities. This paper reviews experience from 18 such initiatives to bridge the digital divide. Most have been organized independently by individuals or groups; a few have been supported by international organizations.