As the global digital divide narrows, who is being left behind?

ABSTRACT: There is a sense that information and communications technologies (ICT) have the potential to give people the freedom they need to lead the lives they value. Papers published in this journal consider how ICTs are the means that enable people to achieve their ends of better livelihoods. This line of research builds upon the work of Amartya Sen’s (1999) book entitled Development as Freedom, where development is seen as the process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy. In particular, Andersson, Gro¨nlund and Wicander’s Special Issue in this journal (2012) illustrates how development can be seen as freedom when the capabilities by which people are able to achieve their ends are expanded through the use of ICTs. If people have the freedom to achieve the aims they value, then they will be able to lead better lives through their use of ICTs. The outcome of such better livelihoods can be seen in terms of human, social and economic development. The papers in this issue continue to build upon this discovery by considering the role of ICTs in enabling development as freedom. It discusses how the Internet may or may not support freedoms to achieve better livelihoods and delves deeper into the challenges faced by people whose lives are changed for better or for worse by their use of ICTs

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, International Telecommunications Union, Civic engagement, Global market

Assessment of the social factors in information and communication technology access and use

ABSTRACT: There is evidence to suggest that use of information and communication technology (ICT) can play an important role in the growth of small businesses and their communities, countries, and regions. In this sense, ICT can be employed to bring about increased competitiveness if it enables businesses to create new jobs and increase productivity and sales through access to new markets and administrative efficiencies. These outcomes can be achieved through measurable improvements in the lives of people living with limited resources to sustain themselves. It is often the access to ICTs that enables broader development objectives to be realized. In particular, social development objectives, which concern the provision of services such as education and healthcare, can be realized through judicious application of ICTs. It is often the ways in which ICTs are used that can potentially enable people to lead better lives. However, these gains are not always realized, nor are they within the reach of those who need them the most. The papers in this issue recognize an important fact: ICT implementations are influenced by social processes that determine the outcomes and often have political ramifications. Although diverse in their methods and analyses, these papers all provide unique insight into well known yet not always well understood social factors in ICT access and use.

Keywords: Microfinance Sector, E-Commerce, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, International Telecommunications Union, social capital

Equitable Healthcare Provision: Uncovering the Impact of the Mobility Effect on Human Development

ABSTRACT: Even though the effects of mobile phone and internet usage on the health and wellbeing of a population are becoming apparent, few studies have uncovered the nature of this relationship to the equitable provision of healthcare. The contribution is in discovering the relationships between mobility effects and human development where inequities in income play an important role, the relationships to socio-economic development and in showing how the mobility effect can assist in addressing health inequities.

Keywords: Human development, Healthcare, socio-economic development, IThealth

Perspectives on development: why does studying information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) matter?

ABSTRACT: The concept of development has been used by scholars and practitioners to demonstrate changes for the better in the lives of individuals, communities, nations and regions. Historically, the practice of development has been associated with interventions and categorizations that have had the opposite effect in countries and regions deemed to be developing. Current notions of development predicated on respect for individual rights, human freedoms, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and education have been more successful in achieving improvements in the lives of people. Yet, historic notions of development persist and continue to drive failing projects. This editorial explores the historical notions of development that persist to this day and offers a view of contemporary perspectives on development. As a growing set of development interventions and papers in this issue involve Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the question of why Information and Communication Technology for Development matters? is addressed in the light of development perspectives.

Keywords: Human capital, Information and Communication Technologies, socio-economic development, World Economic Forum, social capital, Gender Development Index, Communication Technology for Development