Beyond the hype: Gov-tech across the Commonwealth of Nations

The 54 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations represents more than 2 billion people across every region of the world and a vast diversity in development and capacity.

Professor Tim Unwin, well-known as UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, now heads up the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). In this wide-ranging and provocative discussion, he explores the impact of ICT across diverse economies, the value of technology for governance and also provides an overview of the CTO’s work.

Prof. Unwin claims that, while it can change the relationship between citizens and the state, technology by itself doesn’t change very much.  It is how people use the technology that matters.  He also argues that social media’s role in participatory democracy may be over-hyped, and that while technology can accelerate change, it only does so for those who have not only access but also the literacy to use it, and that an over-focus on technology can in fact create a greater development divide.

If ICTs are to be used effectively by governments, all their people need to access them – otherwise, they’re going to lead to greater inequalities.

Tim UnwinAbout Prof. Tim Unwin

Tim Unwin has been Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation since September 2011. He is also Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, and Emeritus Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. From 2001-2004 he led the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo: Partnership for IT in Education initiative based within the Department for International Development (DFID), and from 2007 he was Director and then Senior Advisor (until 2011) to the World Economic Forum’s Partnerships for Education initiative with UNESCO. His recent work has concentrated  on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), and in 2004 he created the ICT4D Collective at Royal Holloway, University of London, which is now one of the world’s leading centres for ICT4D research and teaching.

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