Digital Interactions in Developing Countries
An Economic Perspective
Routledge – 2013 – 258 pages
Jeffrey James is one of the relatively few academics to have systematically taken on the topic of IT and development. In this timely book he undertakes a methodological critique of prominent topics in the debate.
Challenging the existing literature by international and governmental institutions, the book looks not only at the digital divide but also at issues such as digital preparedness, leapfrogging and low-cost computers. James also raises important issues which have been largely neglected in the literature, such as the implications for poverty in developing countries and the macroeconomics of mobile phones.
The book argues that benefits from IT are captured in a different form in developing as opposed to developed countries. In the latter, gains come from technology ownership and use, whereas in the former, benefits cannot be captured as much in this way because ownership is more limited. Interestingly, the author shows that developing countries have responded to this distinction with a series of local innovations which are often low-cost and pro-poor. This finding contradicts the widely held view that poor countries are unable to generate major innovations within their own borders.
Accessible and clearly written, this book will be of great interest to scholars of development economics and development studies, and is relevant to both policy-makers and academics.
1. Introduction Part I: The Digital Divide 2. From Origins to Implications: Key aspects in the debate over the digital divide 3. The Digital Divide Across All Citizens of the World: A new concept 4. Sharing Mobile Phones in Developing Countries: Implications for the digital divide 5. From the Relative to the Absolute Digital Divide in Developing Countries 6. Are Changes in the Digital Divide Consistent with Global Equality or Inequality? 7. Re-Estimating the Difficulty of Closing the Digital Divide 8. Digital Divide Complacency: Misconceptions and dangers Part II: Digital Preparedness 9. The ICT Development Index and the Digital Divide: How are they related? 10. The Neglect of Productivity Indicators in Measuring Digital Preparedness Part III: Leapfrogging, Appropriate Information Technology And Poverty 11. Evaluating Latecomer Growth in Information Technology: A historical perspective 12. Leapfrogging in Mobile Telephony: A measure for comparing country performance 13. Information Technology and the Poor in Developing Countries 14. New Technology in Developing Countries: A critique of the one-laptop-per-child program 15. Low-Cost Computers for Education in Developing Countries 16. Mobile Phones in Africa: How much do we really know? 17. The Digital Bandwidth Divide: Implications for developing countries 18. The Internet and Poverty in Developing Countries: Welfare economics versus a functionings-based approach 19. Internet Skills in Developing Countries: How much do we know? 20. Technological Blending in the Age of the Internet: A developing country perspective
Jeffrey James is Professor of Development Economics at Tilburg University, Netherlands. He has been a consultant to the World Bank and several UN organisations.