Information and communication technologies (ICTs) include any communication device—radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems—and the services and applications associated with them, such as the Internet, geographic positioning systems (GPS), banking, distance or e-learning and electronic government services.
The term "ICTs for Development"—more commonly known as ICT4D—refers to the use of ICTs for development purposes and generally involves integrating ICTs into broader development goals. These interactive, and increasingly affordable, technologies are playing a critical role in helping the world's poorest countries to address key development challenges by strengthening:
ICTs, from cell phones to computers and networks, are being integrated into a wide range of development projects. They are helping community organizations deliver essential services such as emergency assistance to affected populations, or basic education and health care to communities in remote regions.
ICTs are also making a direct contribution to poverty reduction, giving producers and small entrepreneurs access to market information, job opportunities, business and technical skills and banking services. Further, these technologies drive innovation, productivity and efficiency gains across industries, contributing to overall economic growth and competitiveness.
In addition, ICTs are connecting people to their governments, strengthening accountability and service delivery and supporting democracy and human rights. Finally, ICTs are linking development agencies, field workers, local organizations and communities on a global basis, enabling them to share knowledge and to find common solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.