Tate Watkins: The Role of ICT in Development

The international community should remain realistic in its expectations on the potential of using information and communication technologies to address global development challenges, argues a member of a U.S.-based think tank focused on market-oriented ideas.

“We should be wary of being distracted by technologies that can solve some direct problems but will never be able to solve underlying development problems,” Tate Watkins of the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center writes in a guest entry for the “Aid Watch” blog. “If an app gives a mother access to maternal health information, but she doesn’t have access to basic healthcare, how much good will it do her?”

He adds: “Direct solutions to problems (say, aid programs that use ICTs to locate disaster survivors) may be worthwhile as benefiting a lot of people. But a long list of many such solutions is not development. Development is the gradual emergence of a problem-solving system.”

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.