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Internet access - positive or negative consequences for developing countries

Given that it is hard to imagine modern life without using the ICTs and that their usage is increasing every day, it is not hard to understand why is the issue of the impact of ICTs on the society one of the topics of almost all meetings concerning ICTs. These new technologies contributed to the fact that most people the world in which we are living today consider as e-world.

ICTs, since their appearance, influenced a rapidly change of the world. The field of ICTs is very broad and includes different technologies, some of which are quite old and some are new. ‘ICT is any technology that enables communication and the electronic capture, processing, and transmission of information. Radio,
television and print media are vital in many developing countries. In recent years ‘new’ ICT, such as mobile phones and the internet (and associated applications such as ‘VOIP’, transmitting telephone calls over the internet) have become available to growing numbers worldwide.’ (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, 2006, p.1). Accordingly, the question of the Internet access and its impact on the societies, in
particular developing countries, is of the great importance. The impact of the Internet access on the developing countries appears in two forms, as a positive and one who facilitate development and as a negative, contributing deepening digital divide.

There are several positive Internet access impacts on the developing countries. Access to wide range of information, new job opportunities, broader education, to name but a few. With an access to wide range of information, people could contribute to the more democratic society. They can use examples from other,
developed countries, and implement them in their own. According to Jorgensen (2006, p. ix, para. 2) ‘access to information is essential for self-determination, for social and political participation, and for development.’ Furthermore, new technologies provide new job opportunities and as a result of it the reduction of unemployment. Finally, with the ICTs there is an opportunity for broader education. That education includes new skills, such as computer skills, new sources for education and finally new means of education, such as online studying.

However, ICTs could bring negative consequences for developing countries. Although, it was already stated that the ICTs could reduce unemployment, it is possible that the ICTs contribute exactly to the opposite, higher unemployment. Most of the jobs could be done by the computers and there is no need for so many human resources. Furthermore, ICTs could deepen the digital divide between developing and developed countries. In developing countries a lot of people do not have an access to the Internet. On the other hand, people from developed countries are improving their technologies every day and developing countries can not follow them. Finally, the new technologies require new skills. Even if the new technologies would be fully implemented in
developing countries, it would be without any significance if the people do not have the skills necessary to use them.

Having in mind all these impacts of the ICTs on the modern society, it is hard to offer a clear statement whether the ICTs are facilitating development or exactly the opposite, aggravating development of the society. Since there are both advantages and disadvantages of the ICTs, the solution that takes the best parts of all impacts should be found. This should be a responsibility of, first of all, governments, but also, the responsibility of Internet Service Providers. The citizens from both developing and developed countries should have equal conditions for their development and the field of new technologies is one of the fields where these conditions should be improved.


Reference:


Anon. (2006). ICT in developing countries [online], Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, p. 1, http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn261.pdf 14th May 2010

Jorgensen, R. F. (2006). Human Rights in the Information society. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: The MIT Press, p. ix

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