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by Tobias Chitatata Kumwenda, Malawi Jan 27, 2008
Technology   Opinions
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ICT MANTRA FOR DEVELOPMENT. Raymond Kurzweil, researcher in and chairman of Kurzweil applied intelligence wrote “The revolution manifest in this new age-this age of intelligent machines that augment our mental resources will be greater than the radical technological and social changes that have come before. It cannot be stopped. Today’s challenges are to be found in our need to understand it, to learn to live creatively and harmoniously with it, and to harness it to constructive uses.” It is nearly impossible to escape the effects of Information Communication Technology (ICT) today. Organizations and individuals, from farmers to engineers, are discovering the potential of ICTs to meet their information needs and reach their desired goals.

On a personal level, you may find them beneficial for tasks such as supporting everyday operations such as keeping appointment diaries or writing reports, identifying and solving problems and for decision making. Even when you don’t see them, ICTs are working behind the scenes; in homes, in school, in hospitals, as well as in the markets.

The world is changing and increasingly revolving around the dissemination of information and transmission of knowledge. In fact, this is taking place as ICTs are advancing day by day. More than ever before, people in the country, as all over the globe recognize the importance of knowledge and information.

The pace at which ICTs has transformed the transmission of information and knowledge is much of story of new opportunity in the information age. In the recent past years in Malawi, villagers highly depended on high places like anthills to convey messages of both life and death.

Besides the improvements in communication nowadays, it is a usual to see some quarters especially in remote areas still resorting to olden ways of beating drums and blowing whistles in passing messages of wedding, and funeral ceremonies despite inception of modern technologies.

They cannot be blamed for this, as the advancement of these ICTs trends for different reasons has much favoured urban settings than rural areas, and it doesn't need one to be an ICT professional to note this.

Yet that oddity has an unfamiliar side, as such, their appreciation and understanding of ICTs is quite minimal. In most cases it becomes difficult for them to understand that “At a touch of button,” it is possible to stay in touch with those who matters most living outside their locale who needs to be kept abreast with development taking place at home, which then could be a good measure of ICTs success if attained successfully.

But when it becomes a trend, that people who are armed with ICTs skills acquired by going through high learning institution and they are the hopes of their relatives in bringing such facilities at their disposal leave for cities in search of green pastures without passing their then gained knowledge on kinfolks from the length and breadth of their areas when departing, this pose threat in the advancement of ICTs in rural areas as no chances are rightly available for those who are ICTs illiterate to acquire the know how and lucky are the few living in rural settings but equipped in the use of ICTs.

Yamikani Tembo finished his college education in 2004; he pursued a course in Purchasing and Supply. Without any ready employment, to venture into, he is spending most of his time at his rural home of Chiradzulu district, but checks for employment advertisement in the Republic of South Africa almost in every fortnight on the internet.

To do this, he has to travel to Blantyre city to check out the internet at Cyber Cafés. This is not only offering him the chance to search for a job, but also other duties and activities he can do through the internet.

“In my area we have people who have done ICT studies, but have seen their way to cities like Blantyre, supposing with their expertise they had opened internet Cyber cafes at the market center here, before leaving where one could go and do everything one needs related to ICT, I wouldn’t have been troubling myself going to Blantyre” explains Tembo.

However, it is good news to hear of the possibilities of developing telecenters by MACRA at a local level under the theme “ICTs for Sustainable Rural Development (ISRD).” The centers would have telephone, internet, photocopying, television, lamination, and photography and fax devices.

Who would deny that in order for this to happen, NGOs and donor community as a whole must come in to assist in different ways, so as relatives in rural areas also enjoys the benefits of ICTs as their counterparts in urban areas?

In order to roll out ICTs in the rural areas, the well wishers should vest in their different resources and not withdrawing their continue support in making ICTs donations such as computers to learning institutions in the country, as said according to Malawi Civil Service ICT policy of 2003 that ICT is one of the fundamental socioeconomic development tools.

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Tobias Chitatata Kumwenda

I am Tobias Chitatata Kennedy Kumwenda. A Malawian by nationality

Currently i am studying towards my Diploma for the Institute of Management for the Infomation System (IMIS)
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