By Jack Levy
Information Communication Technologies (ICT) solutions have experienced incredible momentum since the initial Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) conference several years ago. It has transformed from a concept into real solutions being implemented by organizations across the development space.
This year at the 2014 ICT4D conference in Nairobi, Kenya hundreds of people gathered to discuss the growing importance of ICT solutions. The ICT solutions presented at the conference were both cross sector in nature (mobile, cloud, infrastructure, GIS, data collection) as well as sector specific (agriculture, health, education, emergency response).
Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Cassava Initiative was mentioned several times in the keynotes and breakout sessions. It was inspirational to learn the program led the way for scaling ICT solutions across their organization globally and later became further scalable across other NGO organizations such as ChildFund and World Vision. The momentum achieved by this CRS program is remarkable, especially considering it was only a few years ago in a CRS conference room in Baltimore, with the help of Intel and NetHope, when it was architected and plans for its design and rollout were built.
With all the technology solutions being highlighted at the 2014 ICT4D conference, it has become apparent that the time for replication and scalability is now. To reach these goals, it will require an unprecedented level of ICT related skills. New forms of ICT consulting are being formed in virtual models and new organizations are being created to address the growing demand. These organizations are being formed and will continue to emerge and evolve over the next several years. The 2014 ICT4D conference also highlighted many implementation tools and techniques required for scalability such as joint ownership between IT and program leadership, methodologies for implementing the ICT, and business case templates to prove the value of the ICT. This knowledge sharing is truly an objective of the conference and one which was certainly achieved.
Emerging technology will continue to fuel the acceleration of ICT solutions in the development space. Using the cloud, ICT solutions require only a mere fraction of the infrastructure required 5 to 10 years ago. And with ubiquitous of mobile, access to solutions is becoming readily available to most NGOs working in-country and their end beneficiaries.
NetHope is well positioned to have an increasingly bigger impact in the development community through ICT solutions. There is not any one constituent group which will increase the speed of ICT solutions alone however. It requires players from the private sector, donors, NGOs, and government, working together on the ecosystem to increase the repeatability of ICT solutions. At the center of this interconnected web of collaboration is NetHope.