Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): An enabling tool for international cooperation

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are transforming the way governments, business and individuals learn, work and communicate with each other. If they are employed strategically within development programmes to promote access and sharing of relevant knowledge as well as fostering participation of the poor and marginalised in decision- making processes that affect their lives, ICTs help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

SDC focus

The focus of SDC from 2001 to 2008 was to support international mainstreaming efforts of ICTs in development processes, e.g. through supporting a series of targeted publications, thematic roundtables and particularly through strengthening to the development perspective and the multi-stakeholder process in the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). In addition to a direct support to the WSIS process and the promotion of the active participation of Civil Society Organisations from the South and the East therein, SDC has directly participated in and supported a whole range of organisations and networks active in the area of ICT4D (see below).

Support for most of these organisations was phased out between 2008 and 2010. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) is responsible for Switzerland’s commitments in this area, in collaboration with the ECOSOC Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The SDC is currently focusing on the integration of ICTs in its own projects and programmes (as a strategic instrument).

Background

ICTs encompass a full range of increasingly converging technologies, including traditional and emerging devices such as interactive community radios, television, mobile phones, computer and network hardware and software, the Internet, satellite systems, and podcasting. The effective use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is not just a question of infrastructure and software. It also requires an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework and the development of human capacity and relevant content. Holistic and contextualised implementation of ICTs is complex as it depends considerably on the sector or theme in which they are employed as well as the overall socio-economic context (access and affordability of infrastructure, human capacity, cultural habits). Thus ICTs should not be seen as a panacea for all development problems but rather an important tool to be applied as part of a broader strategy for sustainable development.

ICTs can be employed fulfilling three partly overlapping functions:

  • Access: Using ICTs to facilitate access to and sharing of timely and relevant information and knowledge.
  • Voice and Communication: Using ICTs to strengthen the voice of poor, excluded and disadvantaged people in decision-making and self-expression of their culture.
  • Networking: Using ICTs for networking and human communication while fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve effects on a larger scale (up-scaling).

The transformative potential of ICTs as a tool can be particularly harnessed to

  • increase efficiency: reaching more people while reducing transaction costs.
  • increase effectiveness: in terms of process, ownership, participation, networking and improvement of governance and better delivery of basic services such as education agricultural extension, microfinance and health.
  • improve innovation and productivity: for example for micro, small and medium enterprises through better access to information, credit, markets and procurement using ICT tools in management, marketing and distribution channels.

Links

Documents

Connecting people for a better world
Are information and communication technologies (ICT) such as computers, TV or mobile phones effective instruments to empower people, reduce poverty and improve lives? This book offers new answers to these questions.
Publication ICT4D – Connecting people for a better world (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Up-scaling pro-poor ICT-policies and practices
a review of experience with emphasis on low income countries in Asia and Africa
[en] (PDF, 1.9 MB, English)

Building Bridges across Time and Space – Experience and Success of a Telemedicine Pilot Project in Mongolia
Asia Brief - May 2013
[en] (PDF, 4 Pages, 413.9 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies and large-scale poverty reduction - SDC/Panos 2005
Lessons from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Edited by Kitty Warnock and Ravi Wickremasinghe in cooperation with John McGill and Gerolf Weigel. Published by Panos London.
[en] (PDF, 799.0 kB, English)

ICTs and Education – Public-Private Partnership to connect Schools to the Net
A National Model in Switzerland - Summary of the Final Report
[en] (PDF, 11 Pages, 1.7 MB, English)

Deepening Participation and Improving Aid Effectiveness through Media and ICTs
A Practical Manual Translating Lessons Learned into Daily Practice – SDC Working Paper
[en] (PDF, 25 Pages, 632.2 kB, English)

Un seul monde
No 4/03 - Société de l'information
[fr] (PDF, 1.5 MB, French)

Chennai Statement - on Up-scaling Pro-Poor ICT Policies
[en] (PDF, 6 Pages, 143.3 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Poverty Reduction?
Discussion Paper - World Summit on Information Society WSIS 2003
[en] (PDF, 71 Pages, 759.0 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Poverty Reduction
in Sub Saharan Africa - A learning Study (Synthesis)
[en] (PDF, 454.3 kB, English)

Current projects

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8th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, June 2025

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is the most important international conference to discuss progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR. The eighth session of the Global Platform will be hosted by Switzerland in Geneva in June 2025. It will review advances in the realisation of the calls to action made in 2023 by the United Nations General Assembly on the midterm review of the Sendai Framework and will be key for the identification and support of measures to accelerate DRR implementation and improve coherence with the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.


Addressing Climate and El Niño-related Risks in Southeast Asia

01.02.2024 - 31.07.2025

Through an innovative partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) and Geoneon, the SDC will support the creation of high-quality geospatial data products to support riskinformed and climate-smart decision-making in development cooperation and DRM in priority subnational areas in Lao PDR and Indonesia, contributing to and complementing efforts under the SERVIR Southeast Asia project implemented by ADPC and supported by USAID and NASA.


UNHCR Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions (DHoTS)

01.02.2024 - 31.01.2026

Switzerland supports UNHCR’s Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions to create a UN Center of Excellence (CoE) in Geneva. It will facilitate the UN System’s and its partners’ access to global financial ecosystems and markets. It will trigger collaboration opportunities for advancing new cutting-edge capabilities and technologies, support preparedness and readiness in humanitarian emergencies for the delivery of aid assistance and financial inclusion and reduce financial transaction costs.


Climate & Socially Resilient Livelihoods’ Support (CSRLS)

01.02.2024 - 30.04.2028

The climatic challenges exacerbate Afghanistan's already fragile socio-economic condition. The project by the Afghan NGO, The Liaison Office, aims to sustainably improve lives and livelihoods of the poorest households in selected provinces by strengthening the natural resource base, climate change resilient and diversified livelihoods, relationships within and between communities, as well as joint climate action.


Safeguard Young People (SYP) - Tanzania

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2026

With 62% of its population below 25 years, the Safeguard Young People (SYP) programme supports Tanzania’s demographic dividend. The project advances young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) through a gender-responsive and inclusive policy environment, empowered youth who make informed decisions, and responsive health and education systems. SYP builds on 10 years of regional experience and UNFPA’s expertise.


Supporting Anticorruption and Asset Recovery through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the UNCAC Coalition

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland has a fundamental interest in preventing corruption so that resources in partner countries flow in public services and sustainable development, and stolen assets are not deposited in Swiss financial institutions. Supporting the effective implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) including a multilateral dialogue platform on asset return will ultimately lead to increased resources for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.


UNICEF, EMOPS Geneva, Core Contribution 2024-2025

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS) ensures that the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) role in complex emergencies is clearly defined, the organization properly equipped and prepared to deliver its mandate to support the needs of children. SDC’s support to EMOPS in Geneva enables UNICEF to lead inter-agency humanitarian coordination, response and standard setting in Water and Sanitation (WASH), Education, Nutrition and Child Protection.


Contribution to Medicus Mundi Switzerland (MMS) Network

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Medicus Mundi Switzerland is a Network of 49 Swiss non-governmental organisations, foundations and scientific institutions involved in health advocacy at global level and health programmes in lowand middle-income countries. Taking a multisectoral approach and fostering open dialogue with relevant actors, decision-makers and the broader public, the Network facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experience and contributes to finding solutions to global health challenges.


CABI PlantwisePlus

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

PlantwisePlus is a global programme that is supporting countries and farmers to predict, prevent and prepare themselves for plant health threats in a changing climate. This will allow farmers to reduce their crop losses and produce more and safer food using agroecological and climate-smart practices that safeguard human health and biodiversity. The programme is implemented by CABI, a leading intergovernmental research and development organization in plant health, with research facilities in Switzerland.


Programme d’Education Alternative des Jeunes (PEAJ) Phase 3

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2027

Plus de 50% d’enfants de moins de 15 ans, majoritairement des filles, sont hors école au Niger. La Suisse soutient, depuis 2015, le droit à une éducation de qualité inclusive pour ce public à travers une offre d’éducation alternative, adoptée par l’Etat nigérien en avril 2022. La troisième phase du programme mettra l’accent sur la mise à l’échelle du modèle et les stratégies de rétention des élèves défavorisés, via la responsabilisation des acteurs locaux et l’adaptation du milieu scolaire.


EmPower II: Women for Climate Resilient Societies

01.12.2023 - 31.12.2025

With EmPower II, SDC contributes to a SIDA-funded project of UN-Women and UNEP promoting  climate-resilient development for women and other marginalized groups. SDC’s support enables disaggregated data products for gender-responsive DRR and climate strategies and enhances capacities on the subnational level among policy-makers and CSOs. SDC’s support also facilitates financial access and literacy on renewable energy in Cambodia, Bangladesh and Indonesia.


Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF)

Ms. Maria Maguta, TASAF beneficiary in Katavi Region.

01.10.2023 - 30.09.2025

Switzerland’s contribution to Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) for the implementation of the Productive Social Safety Net Program (PSSN) contributes to the protection of 1.5 milion poor households in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar through cash transfers, public works and livelihoods enhancement. Also evidence generated through this support will inform and reinforce Swiss engagement in national policy dialogue on social protection, beyond PSSN. 

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