Wiring the world

Wiring the world

If you think setting up IT strategy in your organisation is difficult, imagine doing it for a developing nation

DEVELOPMENT If you think setting up IT strategy in your organisation is difficult, imagine doing it for a developing nation, where even basic electrical infrastructure may be scarce.
Twelve technologically and economically disadvantaged countries are working to construct their own development strategies. They have solicited the assistance of the Global Digital Opportunity Initiative (GDOI), a partnership established in February between the United Nations Development Programme and the Markle Foundation, a New York City-based non-profit organisation that focuses on IT policy issues. The initiative’s mission is to help developing countries identify ways to use information and communications technologies to reduce poverty, improve health care and education and establish democratic processes. Frederick Tipson, a director at the Markle Foundation, says that GDOI workers feel it is urgent to reduce the disparity in wealth and technology between developed and underdeveloped nations. “The problem with the digital divide is that it’s getting worse even as we’re all working at it,” he says. Technology companies such as AOL Time Warner, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems are providing personnel and equipment for the project. Consultants from those companies and the GDOI help government administrators include information and communications technologies in their development strategies. For example, if a country wants to set up distance-learning facilities to bring health-care education to remote villages, it must first determine the infrastructure and applications needed to support e-learning, the cost of that infrastructure and a way to fund it over time. That sounds like a job for Superman, or at least a super CIO.

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