Developing countries generally have low levels of Internet services, and as a result require different approaches to impact measurement than developed countries. A conceptual framework is proposed which accepts a role for technological innovation, but which rejects technological determinism. It recognizes that economic, social, political and cultural factors affect the penetration and use of the Internet. It emphasizes direct and indirect impacts of the Internet on people, while including impacts on institutions and the environmental factors and policies that affect institutional impacts. Ultimately the Internet is an induced innovation, but developing countries still suffer from the Matthew principle – that those who have most will be given still more. Impacts of the Internet range from communications cost savings, to changes in performance of individual businesses, NGOs, government agencies, and schools, to changes in performance of markets, to those measured in terms of economic growth, equity, health status, knowledge, and environmental quality. The overall view of the impacts of the Internet emerges (as does the picture in a jigsaw puzzle) from combining many studies of specific effects, each conveying a part of the picture. The majority of the people of the world live in low and middle income countries; they have the greatest need of the Internet to help solve the pressing problems of poverty, and they are the least prepared to use the technology and appropriate its benefits. Clearly great benefits are available to developing countries from appropriate uses of even their scarce Internet networks. Many of the institutions affected by the Internet are international. Internet impacts on these international institutions must be confronted. Thus developing countries may face significant risks from participation in international financial, labor and goods and services markets, because of significant gaps in connectivity and in knowledge and information. On the other hand, they may benefit greatly from power uses of the Internet abroad, of which Africans are scarcely aware, such as famine early warning and epidemiological alert systems. Donor agencies encourage the development of the Internet in developing countries, and especially in Africa. Several have agreed to work collaboratively to learn the lessons from their experience. Such efforts are important if the potential of the Internet is to be realized in developing countries, the risks inherent in the Internet are to be avoided or ameliorated, and the net effect to be enhanced equity and social and economic growth.
CitationDownload as .RIS
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited