All countries face a considerable number of difficulties. These include the provision of adequate education, good health, advancement opportunities, employment, adequate housing, sufficient income, a sense of security as a nation, and a sense of personal security (Sadowsky, 1996). However, most of the poor people in the world are living in third world countries where access to resources is limited (Haji, 2005). Because of this, the third world countries face many problems in various economic sectors, with healthcare and education being the two most affected sectors (Haji, 2005).
Most development organizations have focused on infrastructural projects, the increase of clinics and health workers, and the development of programs for the eradication of infections (Godlee, Horton & Smith, 2000). However, in this information age, information has become even more important where information enables research, learning, and debate, all of which move a country forward. Access to information is important for understanding and describing the problems of the present, for building the visions towards a better future, and for developing practical ways to achieve these visions, as well as for inspiring and educating those who will be responsible for the future.
Information empowers. However, it must be understood that just like good communication, the flow of information must be two-way.
The introduction of technology, particularly networking, in third world countries requires external and internal factors to be addressed, where these factors influence the country’s rate of utilization and absorption of computing and networking technology (Sadowsky, 1996). Internal factors include the existing human resources and physical infrastructure of the country, as well as its rate of growth and its state of development. On the other hand, the external factors include the amount and availability of international assistance, which will facilitate technology transfer, as well as the suppliers’ willingness to do business in the country.
In particular, the state of the country’s physical communications infrastructure is of utmost importance. Some of the problems may be that electrical power is not reliable; that equipment is difficult to obtain, repair, and maintain; and that adequate local and international links are either non-existent or unreliable. As well, the computers and the associated peripherals for networking may not be present or adequate. Moreover, transportation and communication links may be weak or underdeveloped.
In the same regard, the skills for properly implementing and using these technologies are important. However, a country’s culture may have an influence on how such skills are developed and used. In particular, the successful generation and accumulation of knowledge are affected by factors such as policies and attitudes towards productivity, production, employment, and achievement; the strength of the work ethic; and the responsiveness to educational opportunities.
In third world countries, there is usually a shortage or an absence of such specialized skills. There is competition for such scarce talent between the public and private sectors and there’s also the problem of the brain drain. In these countries, information poverty is one of the more harmful and significant obstacles to the effective exploitation of technologies, including those for processing information (Sadowsky, 1996). The lack of information about the ongoing developments in other environments and countries often goes unnoticed, and with the lack of new information, old procedures and techniques continue to be used, with a lack of awareness about alternatives.
Still, other constraints include financial poverty and the incorrect perceptions about the benefits and costs of network connectivity. These cause delays and hindrances in investment initiatives towards networking activities. Moreover, government postal and telecommunications authorities may respond negatively to these networking initiatives.
This chart (Stonecypher, 2011) shows the penetration rates of the Internet in the different continents of the world. As can be seen here, North America has the highest penetration rate at 74.2%, followed by Oceania/Australia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. This shows that Africa has the least penetration rate at only 6.6%. Undeniably, many of the third world countries can be found in Africa.
This chart also shows that the World average of the Internet’s penetration rate is only 25.6%, and with two-thirds of the world’s total population consisting of the poor (Haji, 2005), this implies that the low Internet penetration rate is due to so many third world countries not having adequate Internet technologies, not only in Africa but in other parts of the world as well. This goes to show the gravity of the digital divide and how it is a growing problem.
In generating solutions, ICT projects must be able to address the existing needs through the adoption of innovative technologies that are flexible, affordable, and appropriate to the needs of the local (Haji, 2005).
Innovation should also be promoted and should be the focus of policies on reducing poverty. Not only will this result in technological transformations, but it will become even more important over time. For the achievement of technological innovation, it is necessary to invest in universities and centers for innovation. In particular, the private sector and the government must have a dedicated investment in university education.
As well, transferable technology platforms must be created. With the high costs that come with accessing and creating technology in third world countries, the creation of platforms with far-reaching economic implications becomes even more important. ICTs are an integral part in many fields and economic sectors and should thus be the focus of these countries. Similarly, these countries should leverage on their existing technologies such as the mobile phone for the solution of their problems.
In addition, the third world countries should be considered by multinational corporations when they create new products or technologies as the needs of these countries are usually different from those of other countries. Finally, collaboration through knowledge sharing or technology transfer can greatly contribute to the economic growth of third world countries.
When deciding a course of action, the solution selected must be one that will address the needs of the locals and that will benefit as many of the economic sectors as possible. Given the limited resources that third world countries have, it should be ensured that the selected ICT projects are affordable. They should also be scalable so that they can be expanded once more funds are acquired.
There should also be available human resources for the implementation of such projects to ensure that they can be successfully carried out. However, in the absence or shortage of such resources, it should be considered whether such skills and knowledge can be obtained from other sources.
When implementing a solution, it must be ensured that the organization or government implementing the solution has the capacity to provide and maintain the IT infrastructure at a reasonable price (Osterwalder, n.d.). The infrastructure is the technology’s backbone and if this infrastructure collapses or fails to be maintained then the ICT solution cannot be successfully implemented. Another consideration is that there should be the capacity for creating and maintaining useful local content and applications. As information flow is a two-way process, third world countries must also be able to develop their content and their applications for transmitting and managing such content in order to facilitate the flow of information. Lastly, the successful implementation of a solution requires that the public understands and knows how to use these technologies and applications.