CTA Working Groups - 2
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CTA. 1996. CTA Working Groups - 2. Spore 65. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47465
Technology foresight and media of communication How to extract maximum benefits from new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agricultural and ruraldevelopment throughout ACP Member States has been the underlying concern of another...
Technology foresight and media of communication How to extract maximum benefits from new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agricultural and rural development throughout ACP Member States has been the underlying concern of another CTA working group set up to help shape the Centre's mid-term plan. Given the pace and volume of the drastic changes arising from ICTs, a major task for the working group on 'Technology foresight and media of communication' has been to clarify the complex picture which consists of media (print, visual, spoken, electronic) and the ever-growing range of products and services (books, fax, CDROM, Internet, e-mail, World Wide Web, video). This has not been an easy task, since some of the new ICTs are adding new dimensions to the use of media. For example, some books and journals are now published only electronically: on CD-ROM or on the Internet. Library catalogues and photo-libraries can be consulted instantly across the world, sound recordings of radio programmes can be 'shipped' within minutes between continents. Farmers, traders and researchers can diagnose pest damage using graphic video databases or obtain the latest information on market prices, quality control and safety requirements for products. In the context of many ACP countries, many ICTs are only appropriate if special attention is paid to socio-economic, technical and utilization aspects. These include the availability (cost, maintenance and technical access) of equipment and communication networks; user-friendliness and, above all, matching of the media to the user and to the 'audience'. These issues become most complex when considering inter-active use of global communication networks. Questions of infrastructure, pricing and public access are real barriers to participation in the global economy and in global educational, scientific and cultural exchanges. For many ACP countries, the situation is changing fast. Since the launch of the working group in late 1995 the number of African countries with open, public access to the Internet has almost doubled. The group sees a need to communicate and harmonize steps to remove these barriers through cooperating with several initiatives, notably the African Networking Initiative, and Bellanet. The group believes that CTA can play a unique, pro-active role in helping to ensure the most appropriate use of ICTs for agricultural and rural development. In the short- and medium-term future, they provide a complementary medium for performing, and extending, established roles in information, training and institution building. In the longer term, some ICTs can serve as areas for new forms of activities. Appropriate roles are being identified for CTA. At the policy level, this may include seeking a presence m network initiatives as well as moves, at national and international levels, to help ensure that ICTs become, and remain, accessible to players in agricultural and rural development. At the institution building level, CTA will act through publications and training to enable partners to appropriate ICTs. CTA is thus aiming to identify and seize the opportunities of ICTs which, according to a consultative meeting convened by the group, are 'perceived as icons of rapid change, sometimes alien, sometimes unattainable, sometimes diversionary; they can better be tamed, mastered and appropriated, rather than ignored, or worse, dismissed.'