Digital Inclusion in Mozambique: A Challenge for All

Monday, July 13, 2009 - 23:17
The aim of this report is to stimulate and contribute to a discussion about the best strategies for ensuring that ICTs are serving local and national development in the broadest sense in Mozambique. In a developing country such as Mozambique, it could be considered legitimate to see the concept of ICTs for Development (ICT4D) as synonymous with ICT policy as a whole, given that the goal of the programmes implemented in every sector is socio-economic development and poverty reduction. This is true, up to a point. However, this study focuses on an issue believed to be fundamental for development, namely an enquiry into, and proposals for, the necessary steps to achieve true digital inclusion.

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The aim of this report is not to produce a complete survey of the current state of ICTs in Mozambique, nor to duplicate work already done by other researchers and institutions. Rather, it aims to stimulate and contribute to a discussion about the best strategies for ensuring that ICTs are serving local and national development in the broadest sense in Mozambique.

In a developing country such as Mozambique, it could be considered legitimate to see the concept of ICTs for Development (ICT4D) as synonymous with ICT policy as a whole, given that the goal of the programmes implemented in every sector is socio-economic development and poverty reduction. This is true, up to a point. However, this study focuses on an issue believed to be fundamental for development, namely an enquiry into, and proposals for, the necessary steps to achieve true digital inclusion.

Digital inclusion is more than just making people “literate” in IT, placing computers in the communities and teaching them to use Windows and office software, though this is necessary too. The principal message is that making ICTs available is not enough to ensure that people have access; it is more important that ICTs are appropriated and used in a way that helps resolve daily concerns. Digital inclusion contributes to the socioeconomic development of society as a whole, and helps to reduce the division between rural and urban areas, by promoting equality of access to and use of information, education and learning, training, buying and selling goods and services, entertainment, intervening in the public domain, working and communicating more effectively.

In this context, the authors defend the need to include an explicit component on digital inclusion in national and sectoral programmes and policies, and present ideas, challenges and concrete proposals in an attempt to foresee the evolution of both society and technologies over the next ten years. Their focus is citizens and their needs, and how to overcome existing barriers to the effective use of ICTs.

The authors also argue that citizens should be more involved in discussing ICT strategies and policies that will affect their lives, through the intermediary of civil society organisations. This requires both greater openness on the part of the decision-taking bodies, through making use of the capacities of ICTs, and a proactive approach on the part of civil society.

In order to discuss the future, it is necessary to have an understanding of the current situation. The study is thus effectively divided into two sections. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 are factual, and describe the national context, the main actors and policies in the field of ICTs for Development, and some of the advances achieved since the approval of the ICT Policy in 2000. In the light of this data, Chapters 4, 5 and 6 present an analyses, opinions and proposals, always within the framework of an ICT4D perspective and looking towards the future.

The authors conclude that the only way for ICTs to have an impact on the lives of the people of Mozambique and contribute to their wellbeing is through the use, on a massive scale, of all those ICT tools to which we have access.

This report was written by a joint team from CIUEM and the Mathematics and Informatics Department of the Eduardo Mondlane University Science Faculty. It benefited from the collaboration of colleagues working in ICTs in other institutions and contacts with civil society representatives.
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FinalMozambiqueReport10July2009-English.pdf1.93 MB
mozambique_em_portugues.pdf1.74 MB