Most of us are aware of the gigantic leaps and bounds happening in the realm of technology. But did you know:
• Of the 6 billion mobile phones around the world, three-quarters are in developing countries?
• In the past 12 years, internet usage in Africa jumped by over 3,600%?
• Surveys have found that radio is the most vital and influential source of information for people not yet part of the digital age?
But... with all of this, there are still billions of people who are plagued by extreme poverty, most of whom are unable to access the basic necessities of life.
In recent decades we’ve seen the emergence of new programs and uses of technology which are starting to change the way development is viewed. Trends would suggest that we are slowly seeing a reduction in isolation, enabling greater freedom of speech, networking and the sharing of vital information.
Now farmers in Sierra Leone can access market information via internet, radio and mobile phone, helping them decide what to grow and how to sell it. Women in rural Cambodia, where literacy is extremely low, can use radio to find out about vaccinations and how to access prenatal check-ups. And through data gathering by mobile phone, everyday people can have their voices heard and highlight the areas in which they would like to see change.
So how are these changes being brought about and what are some of the results we’re seeing? Will these new and creative ways of harnessing the benefits of technology really help with overcoming poverty, or is it better to just stick to the basics?
With so many challenges yet to be overcome, what is the role of technology in development from here on in?