Computers and Developing Countries

  • Sergio Vasquez
  • Jean-Benoit Zimmermann


This article assesses the modes of formation of information technology policies in the developing countries and their future perspectives.

Initiated for the large part in the seventies, sometimes with the support of the IBI and the UNESCO, the information technology policies of the developing countries result, essentially, from the constraints of information technology industry at a worldwide level. More and more identical products, hard and soft, are developed manufactured and marketed around the planet. And the particularities and specific needs of numerous developing countries disappear in regard to the homogeneity that extends over products and applications.

The appearance of mini and then microcomputers has represented an opportunity for the Third World to be able to proceed from strict utilization policies towards production policies. It is the challenge that has been taken up successfully by countries like India or Brazil on one hand and the “newly industrialized nations” of Asia on the other. With opposite logics, based on one side on protectionism, on the other on a search for integration into the international division of work, they nevertheless find themselves confronted with the limits of their strategies.

From another side, the application of information technology in the developing countries is not without problems, despite the appearance of microcomputers. The implementation of computer equipment in the developing countries most often runs into difficulties due to lack of infrastructure of any kind (electricity as well as training). The user therefore has to support individually the cost that is carried by society in the industrialized countries.

This question and the one of employment thus raises the problem of ‘adapted’ or ‘intermediary’ technologies, that has too often hidden the real question, which is the distinction between what in technology is power over nature and what is power over man. It is at this point that it becomes possible to state the problem. How can information technology be a factor of development? Two illustrations are put forward—in the domains of administration and of education.

As a conclusion, the shaping of a national potential of usage and/or industry towards the world information technology industry is a central issue of the information technology policies of the developing countries. Software and services have a specific role to play here and it is perhaps genuine information technology policies that should tend to be defined.


Information Technology Industrialize Country Opposite Logic Technology Policy International Competitiveness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Vasquez
  • Jean-Benoit Zimmermann

There are no affiliations available

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