Sunday, March 04, 2007

Global Alliance for ICT and Development

Last week I attended a meeting of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), which was subtitled "UN Meets Silicon Valley." The goal of the meeting was to talk about ways to advance crucial goals of the UN with help from the technology community, especially poverty reduction.

The people in attendance were good, and I had many exciting conversations. The chair of the effort is Craig Barrett, Intel's chairman. My main concern is that the outputs seemed to be focused on predictable Silicon Valley lobbying objectives, which went under the label of creating an enabling environment. This means getting rid of telecom monopolies, competition based on open standards, adequate intellectual property protections and so on. Don't get me wrong, I think that these lobbying objectives are actually correct: the poor will probably be better off if these things happen. but, it did seem indirectly connected to poverty reduction, improved education and improved health.

One of the key points made repeatedly was that the Global Alliance for ICT and Development has no money. In spite of that, it would be great if GAID could outline some big ideas about using ICTs to make real impact on the global poor. A cogent vision could mobilize some substantial resources. I've decided to work on this, not as an alternative to the enabling environment goals but to complete them. So, watch this space for an essay on what GAID could really do. My focus will be on commitments to creating local content and delivering fundamental access to technology and content.

No comments: