Media and Development
Taking two of Wilson’s three case studies (Brazil, Ghana, China) discuss issues of information and communication technology in developing countries. What is Wilson’s overall position? What changes or policies does he advocate? What is his position vis-à-vis neo-liberalism? What do thing is the overall importance of ICT’s for developing countries? What changes or policies would you advocate?
In Brazil case study, Ernest Wilson looks at global information revolution .He points out that information and technology in developing countries is influenced by social, economic and political factors.
He uses innovative strategic model to illustrate challenges facing policy makers in their attempt to expand the internet. Some of these challenges include lack of favorable policies, laws and constitutions that encourage information and communication technology ,for example forming regulatory laws that encourage starting of internet companies and support by Non Governmental Organizations.
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In case study of Brazil for instance, he illustrates how social and political factors have influenced information and communication technology. Advancement in mobile telephony, paging and internet improved the information and communication technology .The internet is fair and the government run policies to lower internet prices this there by encourage competition, more private sector pressure and more customer demands. Major trends and transformation of information revolution are rooted on national and societal structures and dynamics. He encourages the freedom and the use of new technology so as to become more productive and innovative hence leading to expansion of new ideas. The most important aspect in his book is to explore the tremendous opportunities and for innovation and for personal and collective advancements that information revolution might offer and yet to identify the very real structural, institutional and cultural constraints.
For instance in Ghana case study, challenges facing information revolution include financial constraints, lack of technology and training. He has analyzed the strategic policy issues that individuals and practitioners need to resolve such as how to pursue internet diffusion ,privatization, regulatory reforms there by reduce digital divide .Information and communication technology have the potential to promote growth and equal share of resources in the developing countries. Wilson continue to argue that information technology is as much an institutional and political revolution as it is a technical one therefore occurs within a particular structural and cultural context .This would mean that every individuals and politicians attitude and action influence information and communication technology either positively or negatively. Socially the citizen’s attitude towards one another and towards the authority has an impact on information and communication technology. Inadequate information and infrastructure may halt investments, productivity, high wages and high cost of living leading to minimal development. Countries with good telecommunications have become more competitive economically since they have access to new ideas and wide range of information.
Politics is sometimes included in information revolution, some view information revolution as a political affair rather than a technical challenge; normally politics entails propaganda, and political reforms which may not give room for technical advancement. The other major challenge facing developing countries is the less expensive, imported information and communication goods which keeps down the inflation rate of these countries. Developing countries is also a growing source of international competition for Western industries. Wilson sheds light on the importance of governments formulating constitutions and laws that give room for technological developments, for instance, there are efforts in China to pass laws that would require governments to look for free alternatives before purchasing technology, this can reduce competition from external countries and improve the quality of new technology. Many developing countries have noticed the need of transition from an industrial society to an information society since with correct information and ideas, industries can be greatly improved.
Through information and communication technology human living condition and standards in developing countries can be improved. This is by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor which can be done by equal distribution of resources and empowering each and every member of the society. In order to improve wealth and income gap, governments can regulate people’s income through taxation. Governments can also improve information and communication technology by establishing public education and policies forums that teach people on matters if information and communication. Governments should also create a conductive political environment that favors information and communication technology. Non Governmental Organizations, universities and other social institutions may also be used to incubate information revolution. Politics on the other hand can be used to improve information and communication technology, this can be done by politicians recognizing and rewarding information champions and reformers and punishing those who are not willing to participate in the process of reformation, this is because information revolution benefit every member of the society. Information revolution can be enhanced through correct politics and political leadership.
Information revolution consists of institutional revolution as well as technological institution. It is the institutions in the society that creates favorable environment for information and communication technology. Improvement of information and communication services fuels new services, opportunities, wealth and resources for individuals and the community. Technology if correctly used can reshape the key aspects a society, this may include organizational and economic productivity to spread of liberties. Information technology can be used to establish innovative attitude and behavior. It can improve people’s lives and society by improving political reforms and educational achievements. Wilson further points out that information revolution ca enhance health care, better education, adequate information and diversity of culture, as a result of his it creates a variety of choices for people in various areas, for example in science, entertainment and education. Technology can be used to distribute resources equally in both developing and developed countries, especially to overcome economic inequality and cultural barriers. Information and technology however have particular consequences for particular application in certain organization especially if used incorrectly.
If information and communication technology is to be improved, all countries, senior government officials and private sector entrepreneurs should come together and use liberal methods in enhancing it. Information and communication also seem to have an effect on organizational and the normal structure of traditional media. They are able to access information at a fairly low price through the internet. Wilson affirms that right leadership, vision and institutional adjustments can help developing countries reduce political authoritarianism and improve there livelihood by reducing economic poverty by effectively deploying the right information and communication technology. Access to information is a major determinant of people’s attitude, expectation and values that encourage people to learn towards creation and fusion of knowledge development countries should create local information and communication technology in order to build their modern and traditional strengths. The substantive changes in policy towards greater liberation can be achieved by political mobilization.
A part from advocating for formulation of favorable government policies, Wilson also encourage information champions, these are people who encourage the spread of information and communication technological services. They are people who are self driven and have dedicated their lives to serve the community in matters of information and communication. These individuals face huge political and institutional barriers in their attempt to improve the technology the technology. They therefore actively participate in formulation of new policies that gives room for technological advancement.
In Brazil the structural factors do not fully account for natural information and communication technology distribution patterns wealth is unequally distributed.
Through information technology wealth can be managed and resources equally distributed through internet. Secondly the fact that only a small percentage of Brazilians have access to the internet minimizes the choice of range of ideas, and limits level of thinking ideas and innovation. The diffusion of the internet in Brazil has been decisively shared by several leading institutions including, both private and public institutions, this has partly improved information and communication technology. With the government in control over ownership and access to telephones and pricing of the internet, this enabled Brazil to minimize competition from the outside world and improve quality of their services.
Information and communication technology, have led to creation of jobs especially in the communication sectors. Many people are being employed as computer operators and auditors. In the impact of new information technologies on conflict management and development in Africa, Wilson points out that information and communication technology can be used to minimize crime, this is mostly done using cctv’s and computed cameras. He focuses on public policy and the public interest on information and communication, he emphasizes on the politics of global sustainable innovation in technology. His projects are mostly concerned with links between information, infrastructure and society because these are the key area in innovation.
In order to improve information technology, a more direct approach is to work within the structures of the government in an explicit attempt to faster more appropriate and effective policies and practices, which will eventually be of benefit to poorer and less powerful people. The aim here is to ensure that governments adopt policies which are genuinely developmental at national level – policies which will ultimately enable poor people to achieve greater control over their lives in health, education, production and so on. Non governmental organizations have attempted to do this via direct funding, high level policy advice, technical assistance and provision of volunteer workers.
Many Non Governmental organizations provide government with a package of inputs which includes material support as well as people and ideas. It is important to remember that these strategies are not an attempt to replace the strategy but rather to influence the government direction of policies or supporting existing policies.
Personalities and relationships between individuals and governments is a vital element in improving information and communication technology. If these relationships do not exist, no amount of money or advice will make a difference. In addition, conflicting interests and agendas within government ministries may make dialogue and consensus impossible, undermining even the strongest Non governmental organization’s inputs. A part from the strong appeal, there is logical in supporting direct operational expansion. At its foundation is the argument that ant agency capable of participating in the expansion of information and communication technology has a moral obligation to help developing counties as they can.
The main emphasis of Wilson involves supporting local initiatives, awareness, group formation, leadership, training and management of skills. This is because such strategy seeks the empowerment of people and assisting disadvantaged individuals and groups to gain greater control that they presently have no matters of information and communication and their abilities and rights to define collective goals, make decisions and learn from experience. The results of information and communication in China can be seen in a wider context, for instance marginal improvement in the life of the poor, information intervention prevented the poor from sliding further into hardships and could be treated as evidence of success, and this was as a result of access to information.
Wilson have highlighted the importance of a string and competent leadership, skilled in management and processing of information and communication programmes. Strong leaders are able to maintain channel of communication with government officials, enabling them to offer additional resources for information and communication sectors. At the same time, excessive centralization of decision making in some sectors undermine peoples commitment and limits the potential impact of the intervention.
The Brazil case study indicates a need for institutional capacity building, especially to enhance the aptitude of indigenous information and communication programmes through training, greater flexibility of funding and improving research and analytical skills. Unless information and communication programmes are effective in their interventions at the local level attempt to extend approaches are less than optimal, without the ability to implement and manage more complex intervention. It is for this reason that a strategic approach should be used in enhancing their organizational capacity for implementing effective information and communication services within the broader political context in which they operate.
Information and communication is of prime importance and priority for most developed countries. Today’s economic, social and political conditions call for long term technological perspective in which the world is conceived to be more than merely a way station to something better beyond. This would imply a commitment to progress and improvement towards greater information and communication technology, diversity and improvement in the quality and dimensions of life and life experiences.
Through information and communication technology unequal distribution of resources can be reduced by constructing some frame work of reference for values and be able to regulate behaviors that could logically and rightfully be accepted and respected by all countries cultures government and by mankind in general. In the Ghana case study, Wilson illustrates that lack of information and communication services one can be hindered from meeting his or her set goals in life due to lack of choices and new ideas.
Despite the potential in each and every person, inadequate information and communication channels reduce invention. Laws and constitutions that protect the rights that protect information and communication programs if imposed can make society building much easier. Information revolution depends on institutional revolution including cultures and social norms that encourage technological advancement. Social norms influence people attitudes and view of changes in the society.
With information technology being the fastest growing industry ever, there is a great demand for one to stay on top of things with correct information and ideas. Many companies have embraced modern technology especially information and communication technology, which ahs accelerated transactions and increased competition. However, this same information technology has put pressure on work force to be ever more productive, resulting in stress. With reduced workforces there is increasing pressure on the remaining workers to work harder and longer. Before the emergence of the internet, a person doing research would go to several places to obtain information. Today a search will produce adequate information required by a person. In a single working day people in developed countries encounter emails, the Internet, Fax machines, landline phones, cellular phone , Desktop Computers, Laptop Computers and even hand held black berries which do both office and social work. Television and radio has become a major feature in most countries, they are participating in the process of cultural production and development as well as social and economic. They are also used to improve justice delivery, demystify power and help open democratic space. Cultural productions require a space in which to be heard and viewed. Through information and communication, mankind gets the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. When one attempt to suppress an opinion the truth may never be known, in this context, information and communication availability is critical there for every individual and government should improve it. Information and technology improves liberal thought, this includes freedom, sociality and individuality, it opens ones mind to external ideas and improves ones ability to think fir him or herself and indicate why ones own views are to be preferred to others. The interest and value of information and communication lies on its helping individuals understand themselves and the world better and more deeply than they otherwise would. This technology also can greatly enhance ones analytical, critical and interpretive ability as well as ones ability to express ones self clearly.
Among the challenges facing developing countries in terms of information and communication technology is lack of enough financial support by the developed countries, however, some developed countries have offered financial aid to developing countries in attempt to improve the information and communication channels. The cost of initiating information and communication programmes is at times a challenge to developing countries. The cost of administering complex development programmes which seeks to involve the community in decision making and target the intended benefit of every member of the society is experience such programmes are costly to implement, even on a small scale, and attempts to scale up by expansion without allowing for a commensurate increase in costs, at least in short term, could dilute their impact.
In order to improve information and communication technology, individuals and government need to generate broad based support for structural adjustment, encourage participation of the private sectors in information technology, organize professional organizations, opposition parties, journalist and trade unions. Increased government accountability and impact of planned information and communication projects. The government can also integrate social objectives, improve health and education levels, improve rural infrastructure, support small scale off-farm enterprises and implement population policy.
Achieving sustainable information and communication services will require behavioral changes on all levels of the human enterprise, from international relations down to community level development activities. While organizing the interrelations of the global, national and local levels, the focus of Wilson is primarily on the requirements of promoting sustainable development policies at the national and international levels. The empirical analysis and scenario on the policies and practices of individual nations for the main reason that the nation state remains the basic, yet clearly not the exclusive, unit of decision making, standard setting and public administration . Although the emerging international economic regime is swiftly eroding the state’s sphere of influence, it is on the national level that basic development strategies are formulated and implemented and, in that context, that basic choice are made regarding human welfare and natural resources management. It is also on the national level that correcting sustainable policies in information and communication in most needed. Components of sustainable development should converge in such a way as to generate a steady stream of income, improve communication and information services, ensure social equity and the life giving services of the community. According to Wilson, information and communication technology would immensely enrich ones life with views that would otherwise be overlooked. It concerns itself with very abstract ideas and the same time has immersed practical value.
Wilson emphasizes on information, infrastructure and society since they are major areas in invention and innovation. Technology he says is a driving for remaking the world in its image. In this light every individual is an important influence of the global information revolution.
On neo-liberalism, Wilson encourages formulation of ways through which the government can initiate free and open markets for information and communication goods and services. He encourages implementation of several programmes of information ad technology and market delivery of social services to the community. Market delivery has the potential employ competition and profit seeking to cause efficient production and more aggressive market and distribution of information and communication services. Neo-liberalism emphasize on elimination of trade barriers, formulation of policies favorable for economic growth, privatization of properties and services privately owed.Neoliberal reforms also emphasize on governments accountability and a standard policy package for example, taxes regulation and regulation of imported and exported information and communication services and goods.
Neo-liberalism emphasizes on o creating a shift in social scientific and political reforms that centralize institutions and encourage privatization. Information and technology programmes are able to capture effects that enhance wider development objectives, for example have increased income while building economic and social infrastructure. Although many information and technology programmes have had difficulties in implementation like in Brazil, they are potentially valuable for administering such programmes. They can reach out to group neglected by demand selection mechanism and can coordinate the use of multi-sectoral instruments information and communication services. Brazil’s path to achieving information and communication technology has not been easy, however, its success in information and revolution has encouraged imitation such that many such that many are beginning to mount intensive competition for the lucrative market. Governments have the potential to use its structures to employ competition to cause efficient production and more aggressive markets and distribution of information and communication goods and services to reach every individual and community. More importantly, the results of policy stimulation will have different impacts depending on the initial countries condition including the structure of the economy, competitiveness of information and communication products and services and market factors like wages among others Apart from social and economic factors, there are other factors that should be considered when selecting mechanisms for information revolution, for example information availability, the state of physical infrastructure and other particular circumstances that enable the programme to maximize coverage and minimize leakage. Neo-liberal programmes aim to increase the earning potential of the unemployed, especially those in or about to enter formal sectors. They include training schemes, employment services, relocation programme and credit schemes and developmental strategies to expand participation in economic growth process. Government should support information revolution programmes aiming to bridge the gap between deteriorating private informal sectors and expanding formal sectors. Where services have severely deteriorated, cost recovery is likely to in public dissatisfaction and reduced utilization of information and communication services.
1. Peter, Cowney  International Telecommunications Regime.