ICTs are a potentially revolutionary means of empowering the poor. Realizing this potential will require investments that increase access to ICTs in remote low productivity areas and the development of innovative applications that cater to the needs of the poor and small firms. The costs of these kinds of investments have been decreasing rapidly, but still yield low short term private returns. The private sector cannot alone be expected to underwrite the costs of these developments.

Effective public sector action is required, to establish a regulatory and legal framework that enables the rise of a vibrant innovative competitive private sector, and to institute selective efficient and transparent public subsidies with high social payoff but low financial returns. This is needed most urgently precisely in developing country contexts where public institutions are often ineffective, corrupt and unaccountable.

This site is dedicated to documenting interventions that make use of ICTs to help combat poverty. The predominant focus is on State interventions for therein lies the principal challenge. Because private enterprise and civil society also have major contribution to make, their role is acknowledged.

The list of best practices presented is not meant to be exhaustive. Users of this site are better served by a regard for quality. The selection is based on extensive field research and project work. The policy guide, e-ForAll, described in a primer and in greater detail in the document e-ForAll: a Poverty Reduction Strategy for the Information Age, is used as a framework to group interventions into five major categories of State action.

Some of the material presented here has been produced while on assignment for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The views expressed in these documents are those of Francisco J. Proenza and co-authors, and do not necessarily represent the official position of the FAO or of other institutions.

If your work involves the use of ICTs for poverty reduction or the empowerment of low-income groups through ICT applications, I would like to learn more about it. Please contact me at FJProenza@e-ForAll.org