Dear Joy,

Actually the situation is worse: in most cases the proposed indicators
for eReadiness do not permit to reflect adequately the local context,
i.e. they blur instead of sharpen the eReadiness-picture ... and hence
suggest bad strategies.

Example: obviously illiteracy is an obstacle to use ICT directly -- and
not only due to the lack of skills in reading and writing, but rather
more deeply: literacy comes along with the notion of abstract concepts
which are coined and learned as the fundamental part of learning to read
and write. You aren't taught only how just to spell words but how to
form arguments and to establish reasoning -- some say linearize
reasoning into cause-effect chains. If there weren't those deeper roots
of the problem, it would be sufficient to develop cheap
voice-recognition and "speech" software just so that all those
illiterates may send and receive emails - but practise shows that "this"
solution doesn't work beyond simple command usage in speaking
ATM-machines. To "dictate" a meaningful text ... you have to know how to
write it yourself.

Time as resource is another such abstract invisible concept, yet crucial
for ICT and it's benefits, even to realize that there might be benefits
ahead by using ICT.

As the Millennium Goals state we will have to live with illiteracy at
least for one or two decades more if not more .... So correctly
"measured" eReadiness should not take simply illiteracy as an indicator
-- less as an average indicator, because the eReadiness of and for those
who are literate is something qualitatively different -- but rather
allow to "measure" which bridges are in place -- we had lots of examples
in recent email -- to "bridge over" the Digital Divide.

But here again we hit another conceptual wall of most indicators: they
are implicitly based on an Individual Consumer Model, appropriate maybe
for consumer societies but totally inadequate for
non-consumer-societies, i.e. they allow only to measure (and express)
individual and direct access to ICT (even if the "individual" is an
enterprise) and not group or collective access.

Again an example: assume that you got a literate member of those large
families (clans) we still find in many of our countries. Then -- for
eReadiness-indicators -- it makes absolutely no difference whether he
alone uses Internet or whether he does Internet Access on behalf of his
whole -say 40 person- family. Now take the following alternatives: (a)
train this person, using Internet until now only for his own sake, to do
a better job serving as bridge for his whole family or (b) find another
literate family member and get him/her alone on the net. Standard
Indicator logic would favor the second alternative (100% improvement)
while development logic (effectiveness) would incline balance obviously
to the first. (You may substitute "family" with "community" and vary
usage conditions -e.g. a cooperative and price-info etc. - and will have
a splendid explanation why so many ICT projects are "statistically" a full
success but in reality a complete waste.)


PS: those interested may find a complete country-report of Nicaragua
based precisely on the above observations about the methodical flaws of
standard eReadiness at (in

Joy Olivier wrote:

> Yacine Khelladi wrote:
>> I believe all projects should be started like this from the needs, and
>> build a sustainable capacity to manage ICT integration/appropriation.
>> Whatever technology is used or available. And IMHO yes, every project,
>> ICT4D project, is somehow unique, not necessarily scalable, as ICT is
>> just one element in the complex "development process" equation.
> I'm writing a paper on e-readiness assessments and the Millennium
> Development Goals. A conclusion I've reached is that access to
> technology is not the point. It's exactly as Yacine says - ICT is only
> an [albeit powerful and potentially very useful] element of development
> initiatives. The problem is poverty, and the digital divide is just
> another manifestation of existing inequalities and injustices. I do
> think that access to ICT is important for equality and empowerment, and
> that becoming part of the Information society broadens options and
> opportunities, but access is not enough. ICT for Development initiatives
> need to strive towards enabling "Real Access" (see,
> with a specific goal that this access is going to achieve.
> Instead of measuring e-readiness (how ready a country/community is to
> gain the benefits offered by ICT in terms of policy, infrastructure and
> ground level initiatives), we rather need to consider the application of
> ICT for concrete goals. While those offered by the Millennium
> Development Goals are only proxies for the complex and multi-faceted
> phenomenon of poverty, they are at least concrete goals to which our
> leaders have committed. Mainstreaming ICT through inclusion in national
> strategies such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers is, I believe, far
> more useful than thinking only about ICT integration without a specific
> context.

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