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Are ICTs an Effective Alternative to Aid?

By Wayan Vota on October 1, 2009

With Dambisa Moyo sounding off in Wired magazine that we should Cut Off Aid to Africa, that is favor investment over grants to government, its time we ask ourselves if information and communication technologies are a help or hindrance to development.

In our search for answers, or at least a in-depth discussion of ICT’s impact on Africa, may I suggest that we start with this great Vox Africa interview with Tunde Adebayo, Ken Banks, Tim Unwin, and Samuel Burke:

In this video, Ken Banks has a provocative statement when he says:

I think we can argue that if mobile phones were a World bank or international aid project, we would be no where near where we are now

I wonder if he remembers that the IFC, the financing arm of the World Bank, helped found Celtel, one of Africa’s largest mobile phone companies before it was bought by MTC? But he does have a point in the rapid spread of mobile phone being mainly free of international development influences.

Yet the bigger question around a second act. Are mobile phones a fluke, or can there be other private industry driven ICT’s that have just as great, or even greater impact of the long-term development of Africa?

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Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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One Comment to “Are ICTs an Effective Alternative to Aid?”

  1. techmasai says:

    In the end development both economic and infrastructure wise is what Africa needs and deserves. Mobile phones are one way, Ict is a larger bracket which includes the earlier example.

    I personally believe, as with most indigenous Africans that aid was done in shaky faith, and did not really yield much results apart from create the present socio-economical situation we have today.

    development, which includes technological innovation is the only way. That is how Europe developed -minus the abuse- china is developing, and Africa will have to embrace if we want a way out of the present problems which are currently affecting us.