Economics is one area where ICTs have made an impact. For example, IDRC-supported research has shown how mobile phones and Internet technology have increased the income-levels of Senegalese small-scale farmers and fishermen, by giving them reliable, up-to-date information on market prices, and strengthening their positions as they negotiated prices with buyers.
IDRC’s future role in extending the economic impact of ICTs, includes participating in the expansion of communication infrastructure such as broadband networks so that the benefits of ICTs become more widely accessible. It is expected that additional economic advantages will come to developing countries if institutions like IDRC can help foster the conditions where more of the value-added work associated with high technology (such as software development) is undertaken locally. ICTs can also play a vital role in environmental monitoring. This may take several forms, including using sophisticated Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to track large-scale environmental changes as well as relying on networks of mobile phone-equipped observers to keep track of occurrences on the ground. Meanwhile, the widespread use of ICTs during recent elections in Kenya shows that new technologies can be powerful tools in the quest for improved standards of governance and increased public participation. IDRC is likely to have a continued influence in all these areas because it approaches the deployment of ICTs not as a discreet, self-contained objective, but as an integral component of its broader goals.