In this paper we discuss the role, challenges, and benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) in the rural areas development efforts and processes in Africa. Modern ICT is largely about the capability to electronically input, process, store, output, transmit, and receive data and information. The efficient use of ICT, driven by better high-speed internet (broadband) access, is widely recognised as key to raising productivity and stimulating innovation in the global village. During the last decade, largely due to the spread of mobile phone technology in rural areas, ICTs have demonstrated the positive and significant impact they can have on economic development by improving the business environment in rural areas. ICT provides access to market and business information, brings financial services literally to the hands of rural consumers, helps local communities organise and link themselves, and, through the connection with others, exchange know-how and ideas. ICT plays a significant role in promoting entrepreneurship and economic progress in rural areas, contributing to improve the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry, the quality of life and diversification of the rural economy. High-quality Internet provision helps unlock the potential of rural areas, and thus makes them more attractive places to live. ICT helps existing businesses to perform tasks more effectively and efficiently and respond to their demand for rapid access to diverse kinds of information.
Barton, T., 1997. How are we doing? M&E guidelines for CARE Uganda. CARE-USA. Atlanta, GA.
Commission of the European Communities Secretariat, 2009. Communication from the commission to the council and the European parliament: Better access for rural areas to modern ICTt. Brussels: Commission of the European Communities.
Gelb, E., A. Maru, J. Brodgen, E. Dodsworth, R. Samii and V. Pesce, 2008. Adoption of ICT enabled information systems for agricultural development and rural viability (Pre-Conference Workshop Summary, August 2008). Available from http://iaald-afita-wcca2008.org/ [Accessed 28 May, 2011].
Kundishora, S.M., 2010. The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in enhancing local economic development and poverty reduction. Harare: Zimbabwe Academic and Research Network.
Mchombu, K.J., 2004. Sharing knowledge for community development and transformation: A handbook. Oxfam Canada.
Musingafi, M.C.C., E. Dumbu and H. Dube, 2011. Project management information systems: A handbook for managing development project management information systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Saarbrucken: Lap Lambert Academic Publishers.
O’Flaherty, J.J., 2003. Roadmap for ict solutions for rural areas and maritime regions. The Roadmap for Rural ICTs. Rural-Wins.
Riggs, M., 2011. ICT for rural economic development: What can we improve?, Eschborn: ICT for Development.
Sibanda, N., M.C.C. Musingafi and P. Chikudza, 2011. Communication and development: Bsds 206. Harare: Zimbabwe Open University.
Siles, R., 2004. Project management information systems: Guidelines for planning, implementing and managing a dme project information system. Care International.