The majority of the poor in the world are gaining access to these technologies for the first time. The real question remains: does having access to a cell phone, the Internet, or social media have any tangible benefits for the living conditions of the most marginalized among the poor?
Is the “digital divide” widening or narrowing the “economic divide”?
Can the Internet be as transformative for society as the Gutenberg printing press, or will it fail to meet the expectations attached to it? Donor agencies distributed mosquito nets to poor people in Africa in an effort to control the incidence of malaria. Instead of using them as mosquito nets, many recipients turned them into fishing nets. They had access to and were using the product, but they were not using it as intended.
In short, there are many open questions we need to address if the Internet can indeed become a transformational tool for all and not only for the few.
To discuss these issues, we are excited to invite you to the launch event of a new book entitled Development as Freedom in a Digital-Experiences of the Rural Poor in Bolivia this coming Thursday, April 9 from 3-5pm EST.
The session will present the findings from this new book and discusses how to apply Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach to the evaluating the impact of ICTs on development. Based on empirical evidence from rural Bolivia, the book analyzes the different factors that influence to what extent ICTs can have an impact on reducing poverty and enhancing peoples’ human development.
Here are some central issues we will be discussing with development practitioners, academics, community leaders and government officials.