| Luis Alberto Bonifaz |
Partner Consultant APOYO Consultoría
Each year, more countries around the world develop new programs and projects of national scope related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) or "Connectivity Programs", considering them as fundamental pieces of economic development and fight against poverty strategies. The reason is simple and obvious at the same time. Countries need to take advantage of this powerful tool that enables them to improve the efficiency in providing basic services to their citizens, such as health and education, and moreover, to those people that live in isolated rural areas by means of access to information in an interactive, real time way.
The access to services and information about health, education and markets -made possible by the use of ICT’s- allows population that live in isolated areas to generate different mechanisms to improve their quality of life and their productivity. Nevertheless, government must execute its function as coordinator to promote domestic development and the use of this tool in an effective way, in order to make the most of it, focusing in lower classes and in rural areas of the country.
The foundation to achieve this objective is the connectivity infrastructure of the country. Government must provide the right incentives in order to motivate the private sector to expand at the most their communication networks. It is also essential to have a legal and regulatory framework that promotes the development of infrastructure and services and removes any obstacle as well.
On the other hand, the issue is not only about regulating the most powerful provider in the market by the imposition of reasonable top prices (that also provide them incentives to expand and invest), but to facilitate the expansion in high-cost areas with the necessary freedom in the use of new technologies and innovation in service assistance. The drive of new wireless technologies of broadband such as Wi-fi or Wi-Max allows cost reduction and increases the possibilities of providing connectivity in a sustainable way, even in isolated areas.
Another relevant factor is the creation of capabilities that will permit taking advantage of ICT programs. The coordinator role that the government should play in the training and creation of these skills is fundamental for providing basic services such as education and health. Government should also generate the conditions to promote demand for specific trainings about the use of ICT’s, given by the private sector.
Finally, promoting the ICT’s as essential tool for achieving competitiveness and development for any country requires from a true leadership. This leadership should be capable of enabling efforts to avoid difficulties (such as costs duplicities and personal interested projects) that could restrain the multiple benefits for the favoured population.