I regularly receive newsletters on the sterling work that the friends of IBBA school for girls have done in building a school for young girls in Sudan. Following conflict and subsequent country instability, the school was built by a community of international and local people who wanted to empower young girls post this conflict. Having had a conversation with one of the founding members, I learnt that one of their visionary goals was to one day introduce ICT in this school and enable the girls to have a digital learning platform. After going through the recently published World Bank Networked ICT Readiness index which profiled different countries, it was great to see the presence of countries that come from a conflict coming up the lists even though they were trailing behind on the different indexes. It thus gave food for thought on the competing governance agendas which often leave out ICT as an important factor in rebuilding a country.
Mobile network infrastructure is probably the first often easiest communication channel that can enable ICT’s to be introduced post conflict, ranking mobile devices as one of the most affordable channels of access to technology in these contexts. Rwanda can be considered as one of the best case studies on how ICT’s can be considered as one of the prime agendas which can help rebuild a nation. As part of their country vision, ICT upskilling of their human capital and ensuring a well networked country became some of the country’s focal points. A good example of this is the The Karisimbi Project, a then visionary project where the government convened the construction of a mast linked to the country fibre optic cable that would ensure that amongst other benefits, the urban and rural population of the country would gain access to mobile telecommunication. The various in country and international public partnerships and commitment from government led to the increased ICT access within the country. Today the country sits on position 83 of the The Networked Readiness Index 2015 ahead of other developing counties such as India and Kenya.
While the road to rebuilding a nation may not be as fluffy as considered by those who are not in those countries affected by conflicts, the role of public-private partnership can be used as one way to essentially speed up ICT developments, given an enabling government policy to make ICT an essential priority towards not only country development but also improving the lives of those directly affected by the conflict.
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