ToroDev understands ICT as a tool to accelerate sustainable community development, in its broadest context – going beyond modern computer software and equipment and networks that are often misunderstood, in rural settings, to have been designed for the elite urban populations – to also traditional and rural techniques of gathering and sharing information and knowledge resources for sustainable socio-economic and political developement. This could be through the efforts of rural information centres that use that use broadcasts – radio and televison, public address systems and group discussion initiatives. Undertaking research using the internet and communicating the research findings to a rural community population on a local radio station is a good example of the combination of traditional and modern ICT tools. Harnessing the opportunities provided by the expansion of mobile telephony and community radios in rural areas for promoting the right to access and use relevant information and other inherent human rights, sharing knowldege on best production practices, market research and promoting accountability and good governance to the local people, are always emphasized by ToroDev.
ICT4D: ToroDev staff and other participants attending the Web 2.0 tools training Workshop at Makerere University, Kampala in July 2011
With Increased national, regional and international demand for access and use of relevant information and equal development opportunities that are gender-sensitive, including labour mobility, improved service provision, market for both traditional and non-traditional agricultural commodities, etc – the role of ICTs can never be underestimated. An ICT – enabled open, free and democratic environment can create more opportunities for skilled labour force, small and medium scale farmers, business men and women, even in rural areas to access, for example, better markets and be able to hold theirleaders accountable for better service provison. Whereas access to ICT services (e-inclusion), better markets and realizing gender equality remain important indicators for achieving the millennium Development Goals (MDGs), several factors like poor ICT infrastructure especially in rural communities are still a scare. Marginalization of some population groups like the youth and women represents a threat of human rights degeneration. Unequal access land, credit facilities for capital resources, lack of innovation and entrepreneurship skills to be able to exploit the available resources by rural women and youth, will remain hindraces to development in the poorer areas of the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In Uganda, deliberate legislation and commitment to operationalization of laws and policies targeting heavy investment in ICT infrastructure that promotes free access to information, especially in rural communities is still required. This will promote and ease the establishment of agricultural value chains and creating market linkages for the agribusiness sub-sector, which is a source of livelihood for 80% of all rural Ugandans.