Delivering the full benefits of ICT to the developing world

Written by Gianluca Quaglio and Liliana Cunha,

Delivering the full benefits of ICT to the developing world

@ Riccardo Mayer / Shutterstock

Over recent years, there have been increasing opportunities for inhabitants of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) to use information and communication technologies (ICT). ICT can potentially help LMICs tackle a wide range of health, social and economic problems. By improving access to information and enabling communication, ICT can play a role in fighting poverty, combating diseases and other health problems, and accomplishing better educational outcomes.

On the request of the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, a project analysing the impact of ICT on poverty reduction in LMICs was carried out in 2015 and the final study was recently published. The Lead STOA Panel Member for the project was Dario Tamburrano, MEP (EFDD, Italy). The project had a specific focus on the health sector, elucidating which support ICT may provide to reduce inequalities and strengthen health systems in LMICs. In addition, present EU actions in the area of improving ICT diffusion in LMICs were assessed.

The study first describes the conditions hampering or facilitating the support of ICT to poverty reduction in LMICs, then focuses on the specific opportunities and obstacles in the use of ICT in the healthcare sector and, finally, it illustrates the EU policy approach for promoting ICT in LMICs. Evidence from desk analysis was complemented by the opinions of 145 surveyed experts, ten of which were also interviewed. Experts’ opinions confirm the evidence of desk analysis pointing to health and education as the main areas in which ICT can play a significant role in LMICs development.

Building upon the evidence collected, the study provides policy options for future action which the EU could undertake to help LMICs profit from all the opportunities that ICT offer. More specifically, the study calls for balancing top-down and bottom-up initiatives, so as to address access and capacity constraints in parallel, achieving thus better results in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction.

This study also serves as a follow-up on the STOA report from 2001.

Click here for a summary of the study findings and let us know what you think.

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