A Glimpse at Development Economics

ICT for Development (ICTD) has been around for over three decades now. A multidisciplinary field involving researchers and practitioners from many different areas and backgrounds, ICTD has one clear objective: to deploy new ICTs in society to foster development. The first and most obvious question is how this can happen. The answer is not trivial. Nevertheless, my focus on this post is instead on the development side of the equation. How exactly is development defined and perceived by ICTD? One thing is clear. There is no agreement on the actual definition of the concept.  Revisiting the evolution of international development thus might be a useful starting point to address the question.

Just like ICTD, the international development field is also multi-disciplinary. A few decades older than

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Digital Government in Jamaica

The last time I visited Jamaica was in the early 2000s. A few years before, we had launched the national node of the old and now defunct Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP). It was labeled JSDNP and did quite a bit of work locally fostering digital technologies and creating and disseminating local content. Unfortunately,  JSDNP ended operations sort of unexpectedly in 2006.  Now I am playing catch-up with the island’s digital evolution. And thanks to COIVD-19, I was not able to travel. Virtual will never beat the good old analog thing, that is for sure.

The pandemic unexpectedly struck the world amid yet another wave of digital technology innovation, thus adding seemingly insurmountable obstacles to an already crowded set of development challenges. Jamaica has not been spared

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Evolving COVID-19

Over six months after its official birth, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand globally, as expected. Long-term lockdowns and other complementary measures have impacted, especially in industrialized countries that, back in June, were leading in cases and deaths. Not that the virus has been tamed, not at all. Rather, it now seems to be more isolated, albeit a so-called second wave is expected to kick-off once the colder weather in the Northern Hemisphere starts to gain steam – to fog, your pick. With the notable exception of Africa, developing nations are now in the midst of the first massive spread wave. Governments there have also adopted similar containment measures. Nevertheless, implementation and enforcement are more challenging thanks to more widespread poverty and less than subpar

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Digital Government Governance Models

Governments should fully understand the scope and reach of the various Digital Government (DG) institutional functions described in my previous post and their proper sequencing before they embark on comprehensive digital transformation processes. The policy units’ actual institutional location leading DG processes should result from the analysis of the various functions, not the starting point. Indeed, countries have deployed a wide variety of institutional arrangements while designing and implementing DG. A one size fits all approach is thus out of the question. Similarly, copying and pasting institutional design from DG lead countries or nations within similar development stages will tend to fail. Context is thus essential.

Equally important here is the distinction between policy design

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Digital Government Revisited – III

Institutions matter, more so for the development and implementation of Digital Government (DG), whose core target is public institutions’ transformation. On the one hand, public institutions should have an array of capacities to ensure public investments in digital technologies are effectively managed from beginning to end. In many low-income countries, such capabilities are exiguous or conspicuously absent. On the other, digital technologies are a means to foster public entities’ responsiveness and effectiveness, thus increasing their overall capacity to deliver established legal mandates.  Juggling these two seemingly contradictory propositions in sustained fashion is one of the core challenges governments face when designing and deploying DG, especially in the Global South, where state capacity

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Digital Government Revisited – II

Since the early 1980s, Governments have taken a bad rap. Menacing fingerpointing from most quarters ended up on a consensus that loudly declared them personas non-gratas. The 2009 Global Financial Crisis started to turn the tide. At the time, governments once again came to the rescue of capitalism, unveiling gigantic financial packages to prevent critical financial institutions’ failure. Once the recovery started a few years later, Governments took the back seat once more, backed by universal austerity policies that, in hindsight, did more damage than anything else – especially in terms of income and wealth inequality.

The ongoing pandemic has once again demanded the strong intervention of Governments. However, this time around, the crisis is impacting most, if not all, sectors, in addition

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Digital Government Revisited

Overview

Running on the coattails of electronic commerce, Digital Government (DG) first saw the light of day over 20 years ago. Initially christen as electronic government or e-government, it has since experienced multiple name changes, ranging from e-governance and transformational government to intelligent and smart government. Nowadays, the field seems to be enjoying its run as DG. Regardless of its actual denomination, DG’s indisputable mandate is to transform public institutions via the strategic deployment of digital technologies – the emphasis placed on transformation, not technologies. Such digital transformation must modernize the public sector, thereby leading to increased overall institutional capacity, enhanced provision of public goods, services, and information, and the promotion

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Contentious Politics in the AI Age

Initially touted as revolutionary and progressive in the 1990s, the lightening evolution of digital technologies, running on the coattails of continuous innovation, has been accompanied by the rise of both extreme socio-economic inequalities and loud and widespread populism, nationalism and overt racism. Many countries are undergoing de-democratization processes undergirded by very resilient neoliberalism, while claim-making by conservative political actors has gained considerable ground in the always contentious political arena.

The unexpected and devastating pandemic triggered by the accelerated spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus has put into evidence the real constraints of a now aging and highly monopolistic digital sector. While information and communication tools and platforms are indeed

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Covid19: A “Swedish” Model?

Having been trashed for the last forty years or so, Governments have unexpectedly taken back center stage thanks to the Covid19 pandemic. The virus does not need a passport to travel around the world, nor any tough immigration legislation has managed to prevent it from freely crossing national borders. No country will be spared seems to be its harsh mandate, in a world where technology and globalization permeate most human interactions. Highly contagious, the only way known today to decelerate its spread is by minimizing direct human contact. In the absence of a global governance mechanism, only national governments can take effective action.

When China first opted to completely shut down Wuhan earlier in the year, the usual suspects immediately criticized the action as “authoritarian” and

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Deadly COVID19

Over a week ago, a mainstream media news outlet published an article (behind a paywall) suggesting that the disease caused by the SARS–CoV-2 virus, COVID19, was not as deadly as initially thought. The article cited the results of a non-peer review study completed by a Stanford-led team seemingly showing that the number of people infected in one California county was over 55 times higher than initially assumed. Using COVID19 immunity tests to check the actual population infected, the study went on to conclude that the county disease death or fatality rate was around 0.17 percent. By the way, such a rate is still 70 percent higher than the overall U.S. flu mortality rate for the 2018-2019 season of 0.10 percent.

The study was certainly not welcome by experts and statisticians due to glaring

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