The dawn of the information age in least developed countries (LDCs): lessons learned from four case studies

  • Robert M. Bichler ICT&S Center, University of Salzburg
Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Least Developed Countries, Sustainability, eColonialism


The emerging information age is characterised by the ubiquitous availability of information and communication technologies. While in highly developed countries, due to heavy investments in the telecommunication infrastructure, the public and scientific discussion more and more focuses on the so-called digital divide 2.0, i.e. the lack of ICT skills, for developing countries both, the access to and the use of ICTs still remain a huge challenge.
The goal of my dissertation thesis is to highlight these challenges, as well as the opportunities that occur for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on their way towards an information society. The study examines ICTs in four geographically and culturally diverse regions, including the countries Yemen, Guatemala, Malawi and Lao PDR, on the macro and on the micro level. The research on the macro level is guided by the central research question: Are ICTs in LDCs used to foster societal development or are they reinforcing imperialistic patterns of Western hegemony?
On the micro level the project aims to investigate the users’ demographics, their habits of ICT use, as well as the barriers and opportunities for the citizens emerging from the upcoming information age. The findings from the macro and the micro level will be correlated on the basis of the five dimensions of society (ecological, political, cultural, economical and technological) to assess the state of the art and to formulate strategies to counter the current eColonialism tendencies and to foster a sustainable implementation of ICTs in LDCs.

Author Biography

Robert M. Bichler, ICT&S Center, University of Salzburg
Robert M. Bichler (1979) received his master in Communication Science. From 2002-2004 he worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Institute for Communication Science at the University of Salzburg. In December 2004 he joined the Internet & Society unit of the ICT&S Center at the University of Salzburg as a Research and Teaching Assistant. Robert’s research is focused on the sustainable use of Information and Communication Technologies, especially in Least Developed Countries.
Special issue: ICTs and Society-Network-PhD Consortium 2010