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Economic development, growth and employment

Information and communication technologies (ICT)


Hand auf Computermaus. Urheberrecht: Ute Grabowski/photothek.net

Information is a powerful instrument in economic and social de­vel­op­ment. Information and communication technologies (ICT) influence the way people live, learn and work. They invigorate exchange and dialogue between governments and civil society.

In spite of the breakneck speed of technological de­vel­op­ment there are still a great many people around the globe who have no access to information and communication technologies and the opportunities they open up. According to the figures of the In­ter­na­tional Telecommunication Union (ITU), an average of 45 out of 100 inhabitants of sub-Saharan African had a mobile telephone in 2010, while 11 out of 100 had internet access. In Germany, by way of contrast, 128 mobile phones were recorded per 100 inhabitants, and 82 out of 100 inhabitants had internet access.

The inequitable access enjoyed by different popu­la­tion groups to in­for­ma­tion and communication technologies at a national, regional and in­ter­na­tional level is termed the "digital divide". This term was coined in the mid-1990s. Countries affected by the digital divide suffer significant competitive disadvantages in our globalised world.

The digital divide causes a discrepancy between individuals who have access to a huge volume of information and those who don't. The result is information and knowledge pov­er­ty, which limits the opportunities of the coun­try affected to generate economic growth and enhance the prosperity of its people.

Information and communication tech­no­lo­gies are thus becoming in­creas­ing­ly im­por­tant for de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Not only are they indispensable tools in the planning and coordination of de­vel­op­ment measures, but the promotion and dissemination of ICT is a de­vel­op­ment goal in its own right.

Information and communication technologies – a cross-cutting issue in German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion

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