|Use of Information and Communication Technologies — A poor country’s dilemma
|Arnoldo K. Ventura
|Chairman; Special Advisor on Science and Technology
|UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development & Office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica
Dr. Arnoldo K. Ventura is the Special Adviser on Science and Technology to the Prime Minister of Jamaica. His major task is to galvanize and upgrade the island’s science and technology systems, to increase productivity, advance social reconstruction and reduce poverty. He currently holds leading positions in the Organization of American States (OAS), and the United Nations Commission on S&T for Development (UNCSTD), and is now serving as a member of the board of directors and consultant/adviser to several local and foreign technical and entrepreneurial bodies. He has been very active in launching both local and international initiatives to popularise and harness science and technology (S&T) for socio-economic development. He has assisted many African, Asian, Latin American, and Caribbean countries in examining and strengthening their scientific and technological capabilities to meet pressing social and industrial needs. Dr. Ventura maintains an active research and teaching career, and is an avid student and writer, pursuing the application of knowledge for the benefit of peace, justice and equity for all.Dr. Ventura, a Jamaican, is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and Cornell University, USA. His university degrees include a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and a PhD.
Investment in ICTs will not automatically improve the efficiency of firms or the economy of poor countries. Poor countries tend to use ICTs under labour intensive contracts for credit card companies, airlines, insurance companies, website design, programming, and such, hoping to replace low skilled jobs lost to outside competition. Although jobs in accountancy, sales, billing and reservations, can be gotten by outbidding other countries, these can be lost overnight to cheaper labour and the march of technology.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are expensive to install, but in a globalised world, it is more expensive to ignore these technologies. The underdeveloped countries therefore are caught in a dilemma of limited resources and pressing global demands 1. They must react against the background of ICTs that have rapidly revolutionised the socio-economy of the developed countries, creating new sectors, products and services, as well as questionable and anti-social applications. This is reflected in the fact that investments in ICTs in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries account for up to 0.8% of their annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Notably, similar ICT investments, and diffusion, have not benefited these countries equally 2.