The ongoing work of the UNU International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) is prominently featured in the Information Economy Report 2012: The Software Industry and Developing Countries. This publication, released globally by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in November, is one of the few annual reports that monitors global trends related to information and communications technologies (ICT) from a development perspective. It serves as a valuable reference for policymakers.
The Information Economy Report 2012 emphasizes that ICT trends are creating better opportunities for developing countries to enhance indigenous software capabilities. The report makes a strong case for the social and economic benefits to be gained from leveraging software skills in the domestic market — in both the private and public sectors.
As its first case study, the report features Software for Sustainable Development: The Case of UNU-IIST. This poverty-reduction project was developed by UNU-IIST in collaboration with the government of Lao PDR, NGOs and academic partners.
In the case of Laos, one of the least-developed countries in the world, widespread mobile phone usage and improved broadband connectivity are widening the potential for ICT-induced development gains in areas such as health, education, governance, and business creation and expansion, notes the report. But in order to ensure that improved ICT access brings about the desired benefits, the software used in the various devices and services has to be adapted to the needs and capabilities of users. “When stakeholders combine ICT access with locally-relevant software, they can amplify national poverty reduction efforts and accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” says Professor Peter Haddawy, Director of UNU-IIST.
For the full case study description, see page 3 of the Information Economy Report 2012.