ICT can be broadly defined as a set of activities that facilitate, by electronic means, the capturing, storage, processing, transmission, and display of information. The term information and communication technology (ICT) is used in this context to encompass the production of both computer hardware and software as well as the means of transferring the information in digital form. It also includes low cost forms of communication such as radios. Another term commonly used to describe the changes produced by information technology is the digital economy. This expression emphasizes the new opportunities created by transforming information into a binary digital code. The digital economy refers to more than the boom and bust cycle of many new ventures aiming to tap the potential of the Internet for commercial purposes. The more profound effect of ICT is likely to be in improving the efficiency and reach of the mainstream production of goods and services, in both the public and private sectors of the economy. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been increasingly promoted as a key solution for comprehensive development, poverty eradication and the empowerment of historically disadvantaged groups, such as women, the youth and minorities in the Global South. ICT-based business initiatives and e-commerce projects in particular, have been hailed as “potential goldmines” for women’s and youth empowerment. However, research and experience show that to be successful, projects must balance the need to overcome structural barriers to advancement with sensitivity to the limited space within which many in the Global South navigate. An International Telecommunication Union (ITU) study (2005) describes ICTs as potentially powerful “development enablers” and the World Bank currently supports more than 1,000 projects with an IT component (The World Bank Gender Group, 2006) They are cost-effective with significant transformative power, allow developing countries to leapfrog several stages of the development process and, in furnishing individuals directly with tools for self-empowerment, avoid top-heavy and corrupt bureaucracies (Heeks,1999; Karake-Shalhoub & Al Qasimi, 2006). Specifically, Eggleston, Jensen, and Zeckhauser (2002) argue that ICTs “can enhance the functioning of markets that are critical for the well-being of the poor” because ICTs can foster greater market integration in many ways: • They allow firms and individuals in developing countries to participate more competitively and with greater ease in the regional, national and global economies and reduce uncertainty in doing business; • Information regarding prices enables producers to plan their product mix and input purchases in an efficient manner; • Access to ICTs allows producers to sell their products in the most profitable markets and determine the optimum timing of sale; • Availability of price information shrinks the informational asymmetry between the rural producers and middlemen; • ICTs reduce the exploitation of rural producers by e-middlemen; • Increased information facilitates technology diffusion, adoption and innovation at a much faster pace; • Increased information about the availability of jobs could result in better and faster matching between landless laborers and available jobs, ultimately leading to increased productivity; • ICTs provide greater access to weather-related information and credit opportunities. In short, access to ICT and proper use of this access could place an economy on a higher income trajectory over time.
ICTs can offer many youths in the developing countries an entrepreneurial advantage. Some of the ways by which it can offer such entrepreneurial skills to the youth include: * Sale and repair of mobile phones.
Until recently not many people in the developing countries knew about the use of mobile telecommunication. Since its emergence in the early 2000’s it has provided a lot of jobs for the youth who...
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