Abstract - The Information Society 2 (1)

Information Technology and the Problems of Less Developed Countries

Harry East

Some 130 sovereign states may be termed less developed countries (LDC). LDCs have many different cultures, economic and social conditions, population sizes, political structures, and research and development potentials. Communications problem areas among LDCs include: 1. lack of appreciation by national decision makers of the role of scientific and technical information in development, 2. inadequate infrastructure for information storage and processing, 3. inadequate infrastructure for information use and absorption by users, and 4. economic, administrative, cultural, educational, technological, and structural barriers to adequate information flow. Information technology offers limited benefits to LDCs because these basic problems remain unsolved. Electronic publishing and delivery may be logical developments within capital intensive economies, but the required investment and volume of use do not match present capacities of LDCs. The imposition of modern information technology may polarize developmental activities and may retard instead of encourage the growth of indigenous resources. It cannot be assumed that databases available within the industrialized world are appropriate or adequate for the needs of developing countries.

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