C4D, S4D and now ICT4D. The latest “4D” could represent one of the most important social and economic development trends in years. Communication technologies have long been seen as development “silver bullets.” First radio was going to boost productivity for rural farmers, then TV sets were supposed to replace teachers in remote classrooms, then computers were to become the great equalizers. Outsized expectations have almost always exceeded Information and Communications Technology (ICT) realities for development.
But ICTs could finally be coming of age – due to the rapid spread of cell phones and internet – and their impact is reaching far beyond text message weather and commodity price reports for rural farmers. In a many ways digital technology and wireless communication networks are now over-shooting expectations and starting to deliver development dividends that generate their own forward momentum. Best of all, in many instances, end users in impoverished regions are having their say and formulating the framework of the latest generation of ICT for development: ICT4D.