The development of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has transformed the world over the last two decades. These technologies are often seen as being inherently 'good', with the ability to make the world better, and in particular to reduce poverty. However, their darker side is frequently ignored in such accounts.
ICTs undoubtedly have the potential to reduce poverty, for example by enhancing education, health delivery, rural development and entrepreneurship across Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, all too often, projects designed to do so fail to go to scale, and are unsustainable when donor funding ceases. Indeed, ICTs have actually dramatically increased inequality across the world. The central purpose of this book is to account for why this is so, and it does so primarily by laying bare the
interests that have underlain the dramatic expansion of ICTs in recent years. Unless these are fully understood, it will not be possible to reclaim the use of these technologies to empower the world's poorest and most marginalised.
Tim Unwin is UNESCO Chair in ICT for Development (ICT4D) and Emeritus Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He was Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) from 2011-2015, and was Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission from 2009-2014, having been a Commissioner since 2004. He serves on the ITU's m-Powering Development Advisory Board, the UK Department for International Development's Digital Advisory Panel, the UN University - Computing and Society International Advisory Board, and the World Economic Forum's Internet for All initiative's Steering Committee. He is also Honorary Professor at Lanzhou University in China. He has written or edited 15 books and more than 200 academic papers and chapters, many of which focus on the use of technology in development practices. He was appointed Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George in 2016.