What Are the Benefits of the Networked World for Developing Countries?

Success in the Information Age depends upon the widespread integration of information and communication technologies into society-at-large. New value propositions based upon ICTs emerge as individuals begin to accept and understand their usefulness. This change in attitude and behavior leads to creative solutions and new models that can radically reshape how businesses, hospitals, schools and governments work.

In the more developed nations, the deployment of ICTs is more widespread and is supported not only by better infrastructure, but also by more fundamentally sound societal building blocks such as healthcare and education. The developing world, on the other hand, suffers from serious deficits and profoundly uneven distributions within these areas.

Rapid increases in computing power, plunging prices for silicon chips and electronics, and advances in wireless communications have made powerful technologies accessible to many parts of the world which have historically lagged far behind in technology adoption. Suddenly, this accessibility allows developing nations to achieve significant, shared and sustained gains from joining the Networked World, particularly if broad development goals are kept in mind as communities in these nations focus on their own Readiness.

The new ICTs are a powerful yet neutral tool that can be used to address a host of issues in every community - their real power, therefore, lies in their ability to support holistic development that promotes long-term social and economic benefits. If information and communication technologies are used effectively, they can help to create a trained, educated and healthy workforce that can build a vibrant and successful economy.

The value of a network increases as its number of users grows. By participating in the global information network, developing nations not only add value to the rest of the world, but also benefit from the ability to use the network to communicate and trade with all other users. For this reason it becomes ever more important for the developing world to get ready for the Networked World.

Getting ready for the Networked World creates new opportunities for firms and individuals in the developing world, eliminates barriers that have traditionally stifled flows of information and goods to and from developing nations, and promotes efficiency in a host of activities. Students can learn more about the world and about themselves through use of the network. Businesspeople can find new market opportunities and more efficient ways to run their firms. Governments can more effectively provide public services. Individuals can communicate with friends and family and become more informed about virtually anything that is on the network.

Participation in the Networked World can provide new ways for developing countries to improve their economic, social and political well-being. These opportunities for positive change are increasingly relevant and achievable as information and communication technologies become more powerful and less expensive.

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