Alpha Eritrean Engineers Magazine 2015 February Issue
Eritrean Engineers working on the construction of a mother-child clinic in Keren
The role of ICT and Software Industry in Economic Transformation and Good Governance
By YM Gebremichael and M Beyene
Abstract —it is nearly impossible to imagine our lives without the information and communications technologies (ICT) we have come to take for granted, i.e. smart phones, tablet devices, laptops, desktop computers and in particular the infrastructure that is the Internet. While the impact of these technological advances may be hard to quantify, the effective usage of these as technologies for information processing and communications has undoubtedly transformed societies. Indeed many countries have identified ICT as a key ingredient for economic growth and social transformation not only through industrial output and increased productivity but also through gains in administrative efficiency and its role in effective governance. As commoditization of software and cloud computing becomes increasingly wide spread, this paper explores the potential impact of ICT and the software industry on fundamental economic transformation and good governance in developing countries in particular. It further looks at how the necessary environment and the required skills can be created through strategic government interventions on building the required infrastructure and educational systems.
The last 20 years have been characterized by an information revolution driven by advances in software and computer technology. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used to broadly describe a cluster of technologies (software and hardware) used for gathering, storing, processing and communicating information electronically. The advances in ICT have facilitated economic growth through knowledge distribution and interaction via formal and informal computer and communication networks. Here ICT, both as a product and as an enabling technology, has impacted various economic sectors such as education, health services, industry, governance and others. This trend will continue into the future where almost no part of our daily life will be unaffected by the pervasive nature of software and hardware technologies. While this may be the case, it is important to realize that the technologies in themselves are not transformational. The socio-economic context of their application is a decisive factor in the impact of the technologies (Pruulmann, 2006).
II. ICT AS AN ENABLING TECHNOLOGY
The advances and fast paced changes in networking technologies and the penetration of the Internet has revolutionized how economies interact with each other and do business. As an integral component of ICT, software is a key driver of economy in the developed world. It has allowed systematic manipulation of data for better insight and generation of knowledge. Indeed software has become the prime industrial differentiator and a platform for innovation, as such governments in Europe are realizing the strategic importance of software as a key enabler in the face of competition from emerging markets.
In the following sub-sections, the paper looks at the impact of ICT and software as an enabling technology on education, industry, eGovernment and social media.
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