Kitaw works in Geneva for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Kitaw holds an MBA in Management of Technology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and is currently a PhD Fellow at the University of Maastricht – UNU-MERIT researching on the role of the Internet in pathways to democratization of authoritarian regimes.
Disclaimer The views and opinions expressed in this blog and extracts of research work are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the official position of his employer and the academic institutions he is affiliated with.
I just watched an interesting 10 minutes talk in TEDx format by Patrick Walsh with an appealing title “Everyday Citizens and the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”.
He covered in a brief yet comprehensive, attention captivating style important and complex points ranging from the genesis of the UN 2030 Development Agenda to YOU and what YOU can do for the success of its implementation.
I particularly appreciated his novel example of a women, stranded on a desert island, who sets up a company, a household and a government and how she would not knowingly harm herself or the environment around her for her grandchildren. He depicted this fictional instance to illustrate the ‘disconnects’ in the current world we live in and how ‘stakeholder partnerships’ could address these issues as we go along the implementation of the 2030 agenda.
In short, his key message was to recall the responsibility for implementation by the people and to induce successful stakeholder partnership at local, national, regional and global levels.
Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
Two-thirds of all internet users – 67 percent – live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship.
Social media users face unprecedented penalties, as authorities in 38 countries made arrests based on social media posts over the past year. Globally, 27 percent of all internet users live in countries where people have been arrested for publishing, sharing, or merely “liking” content on Facebook.
Governments are increasingly going after messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, which can spread information quickly and securely.
Interestingly, the report displays a chart showing Internet Freedom vs Internet Penetration and GDP without providing any comment.
The chart triggers a variety of questions ranging from the linkages between Internet Freedom and GDP up to the correlations between ICT growth, development and democracy.
Indeed, the Internet presents the ‘Dictator’s dilemma’ for authoritarian regimes.
On one hand, shutting it down can hurt their economy. On the other, leaving it open and unrestricted can threaten their power grip as it facilitates their citizens’ ability to access and share political information and engage collectively.
Most often respond to this dilemma through sophisticated and opaque ways, taking advantage of the tool, by for example promoting e-government as a means to strengthen their authoritarian rule while tightening control and surveillance. (see figure from the World Development Report 2016 – Digital Dividends)
Source: World Development Report 2016
While there is abundant ICT4D literature on the linkages between Information Technologies and International Development in general, much more remains to be explored on the correlation/causal linkages between ICT penetration, Development and Democratization at a global level as well as specific case studies including cultural and historical insights.