Information and Communication
Technologies in the next decade:
Strategic issues
Jean-Pierre CONTZEN
March 19, 2004
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (1)
The importance of ICT’s in the development of
the Knowledge Based Society of the 21st Century
is undisputable.
Nations that wish to promote human
development and to remain integrated in the
world stream must master the ICT’s, at least in
some strategic areas. The evil of the Digital
Divide adds to the problems related to achieving
a balanced development of nations within a
globalized environment.
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (2)
Some benefits of ICT’s:
 Well harnessed information technologies can
enable countries to « leapfrog, share experiences,
and promote cross-fertilization of ideas »
(World Development Report 1998-1999: Knowledge for Development)
Provide better access to the world’s knowledge,
facilitate education and training
Stabilize people in their homeland
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (3)
Some benefits of ICT’s (cont.):
 Accelerate economic development: e-business
should not be the monopoly of the more affluent
countries. ICT’s allow the offer for a « thinking
force » on the world market.
 Augment social services, notably in the health
field. Tele-medicine has a tremendous potential
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (4)
Some benefits of ICT’s (cont.):
 The example of India in the promotion of ebusiness:
The ICICI Mumbai-based private bank offers ATM
services to people owning more than 22$ per month.
No card, fingerprint recognition.
The State Bank of India has computerized its 11,600
branch offices
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (5)
Some benefits of ICT’s (cont.):
 Contribute to food security through IT based
land management and agro-ecosystems
 Foster cultural development and provide an
element of leisure to all people.
Information and Communication
Technologies in the 21st Century (6)
Some misdeeds of ICT’s:
 Threat to national cultures.
 Vulnerability to Cyber-crime.
 Threat to privacy.
 Propagation of low cultural value messages
(pornography,, etc)
 Computer software replacing judgment and
 Increase of the inequality for those who don’t
master ICT’s.
Mastering ICT’s (1)
What are the strategic issues for a further
spread of ICT’s in the future, notably to lower
income countries? The race for ever increased
performances and miniaturization should be
accompanied by a similar race for cost
reduction. Is the user-friendly 10 $ computer an
The three essential areas of hardware, software
and applications have to progress in parallel.
Mastering ICT’s (2)
 Components requiring further developments:
Memories of all types
Input/Output interfaces (telecoms, voice actuation,
optical converters)
Communication links, land or space
Energy supplies
Mastering ICT’s (3)
Hardware (cont.):
 Future computer systems and infrastructures:
In the long term, will optical, quantum and DNA
computers supersede the current electronic
systems? A way to remove « soft errors » in
semiconductor memories?
In the shorter time, will computers further shrink in
size? Does the evolution in notebooks and mobile
platforms lead to the end of the desktop? Will the
wearable computer be a reality in a few decades?
Mastering ICT’s (4)
Hardware (cont.):
 Future computer systems and infrastructures
Will the mainframe return at the expense of
servers? The server market was significantly down
in the last two years while the mainframe
maintained its position.
Mastering ICT’s (5)
Hardware (cont.):
 Future computer systems and infrastructures
Will computing power, in all its aspects of data
acquisition, processing and storage, be available one
day on-line just as water, gas or electricity provided
by utilities?
Will grid technology that constitutes already an
inevitable technology for e-Science lead to the
generalized concept of utility computing?
Mastering ICT’s (6)
Hardware (cont.):
The requirement for grid technology: reducing
computing time
The example of a 0.1 degree grid for ocean dynamics
simulation over long periods of time: for a century of
evolution, it requires 28 days computing on the most
powerful machine available today, the Earth Simulator
(Japan). With most of the current CPUs devoted to
scientific computing, it would require 850 days. The
objective for the future is a Peta scale grid : One Petaflops
for operations and 10 Petabytes of storage.
Mastering ICT’s (7)
Hardware (cont.):
An example of grid technology: the CERN Large
Hadron Collider (LHC) computing grid.
One single LHC detector (ATLAS) will produce, after 2007,
2 Petabytes per second of raw data; filtering leaves 320
Megabytes per second of data, requiring a yearly storage of
10 Petabytes.
The data from the LHC will be stored on 10 000 commodity
servers with 1 Terabyte of storage.
On-demand access to LHC data will be provided worldwide.
Mastering ICT’s (8)
Hardware (cont.):
Communication infrastructures: the battle for
broadband access. Is it essential?
100 pages file: 34 Mb/s = 0.5 s; 64 kb/s = 30s
Color photo high quality: 34 Mb/s = 1.5 s; 64 kb/s =
5 min. full screen video: 34 Mb/s = 25 min.; 64 kb/s
= 9 days
The tools available for broadband: satellite, coaxial
cable, optical fibers, local radio, copper wire with
Mastering ICT’s (9)
Hardware (cont.):
 Communication infrastructures: the access to
Internet for all:
Develop broadband networks but NOT at the
expense of geographical coverage that remains the
Reduce the cost of utilization
Wireless networks
Solve the energy supply problem
Mastering ICT’s (10)
Hardware (cont.):
Computing and Communications together: the
do-it-all cell phone:
Internet access
Credit card
Photo camera: Camera cell phones have exceeded
in sales already in 2003 the digital still cameras!
Source: STERN 10/2004
Mastering ICT’s (11)
Hardware (cont.):
Computing and Communications together: the
competition between the laptop, the Personal
Digital Assistant (PDA) and the cell phone:
NORTEL Canada currently saves 22 M$ on a 4.7
M$ investment by asking employees to make phone
calls on soft phones rather than cell phones
Current Microsoft based smart phones synchronize
e-mail diary and contacts like a PDA. The
competition will be essentially on prices (P800
smart phone as expensive as fully equipped PDA)
Mastering ICT’s (12)
 The battle for free, « open source» software. The
example of Thailand’s government program
 The growth in efficiency in parallel
supercomputing, going beyond several tens of
 Complex modeling: Bioinformatics will equal
defense and climate/weather applications in
terms of requirements
Mastering ICT’s (13)
Software (cont.):
 The increased attention devoted to I/O
interfaces such as speech
 The expansion of virtual reality
 The evolution towards the semantic web
 The improvement of artificial intelligence,
robotics, expert systems, pattern recognition
Mastering ICT’s (14)
Software (cont.):
 The development of data handling, storage and
retrieval, the need for « data mining »
 The development of tools for the digitalization
of people’s own memorabilia: « Google your
self », visual diary of people.
 The exchange of information using people’s own
Mastering ICT’s (15)
Software and hardware:
 All the developments previously described
require a sustained attention being given to the
question of standards. Standard interfaces,
standard protocols constitute the necessary
condition for the transparency of the future
computing environment and for the future of
the global cell phone. Is it an area where too
many organizations are dealing with the issue?
Mastering ICT’s (16)
The most important applications for economic and
social development:
 E- learning
 E- health
 E-elderly care
 E- business
 E- agriculture
 E- risk management
 E- government
Analyzing the Digital Divide (1)
Only a handful of nations can pretend
mastering all the ICT’s just described. The
exponential development of these technologies
increases the difficulty for the other nations to
maintain their active involvement in the process.
Four aspects of the digital divide:
The concentration of supercomputing power
The inequality in Internet use
The uneven growth of e-Commerce
The language issue
Analyzing the Digital Divide (2)
In the world, among the 500 best equipped sites
(based on total capability of supercomputers,
operations and memory), 51% are in the US.
Together with the European Union and Japan,
they concentrate more than 90% of global
supercomputing. (source:
20 nations provide more than 90% of the
world’s active Internet users (see next table).
The Internet use per capita varies from 0.7 in
Sweden to 0.0007 in Nigeria.
(source: CIA’s World Fact book 2003)
Analyzing the Digital Divide (3)
Internet users
United States
280.5 M
165.7 M
176 M
13.9 M
129.9 M
100 000
59.76 M
16.97 M
8.9 M
6.02 M
2.7 M
120 000
3.3 M
30 000
Analyzing the Digital Divide (4)
Such aggregate figures are useful but do not
reflect the digital divide within the countries. In
India, for example, 60% of the 2 million
Internet users are concentrated in 3 States:
Maharastra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
Analyzing the Digital Divide (5)
The total e-Commerce in 2003 will amount to
about 4 Trillions $, with a predicted growth to
6.8 Trillions $ in 2004. 59% are in the US, 21%
in Western Europe and 18% in the Asia Pacific
region. 2% are left for the rest of the world.
(source: Forrester Research, Inc;
Analyzing the Digital Divide (6)
In terms of language on-line use, the main issue
is not the predominance of English but rather
the balance to achieve between a strong demand
for work in native languages and a weaker offer
in such languages, as illustrated by the following
Analyzing the Digital Divide (7)
The on-line community using English represents
36.2% of the total Internet population while this
language zone represents 33.4% of the world
economy, a fairly proportionate relation. NonEnglish European languages are used by 35.5%
of internauts while accounting for 30.3% of the
economy. Asian languages total 28.3% of on-line
use for 36.3% in economical terms.
Analyzing the Digital Divide (8)
The distribution of languages other than
English used mainly by Internauts is as follows :
Chinese 10.8% ; Japanese 9.7%;
7.4% ; German
4.5% ; Italian
3.5% ; Portuguese 3.0%
Russian 2.9% ; Dutch
Analyzing the Digital Divide (9)
In contrast, in terms of web pages existing in a
specific language, about 70% are in English
while non-English European languages are
limited to about 18% and Asian languages to
12%.The offer is much more restricted.
Reducing the Digital Divide (1)
What can be done for stabilizing or reducing the
digital divide?:
Be an intelligent user of ICT’s
Identify niches for a possible supplier role
In no case, one should attempt to copy the most
advanced nations. It is illusory to believe that
Silicon Valley can be cloned.
Reducing the Digital Divide (2)
India has established the nearest equivalent to
Silicon Valley in an emerging country,
Bangalore. In spite of its success, it has very
little domestic output, “genius on the cheap”
flows to the US. The Indian software industry
exports amounts to 10 B$, important for India
but only 2/3 of SAP sales.
Reducing the Digital Divide (3)
ITC developments should match local
conditions: existing infrastructures, human
resources, internal needs.
Leapfrogging should be achieved whenever it
appears as a realistic option .
Regional cooperation should be encouraged,
provided that it brings together actors with
similar targets and capabilities. Geographical
proximity does not constitute a sufficient
Reducing the Digital Divide (4)
An intelligent user of ICT’s –seizing the right
Ensure the minimum communication and
computing infrastructures for being able to
benefit from the global offer.
Benefit as much as possible from resource
Perform an independent analysis of the areas
where ICT’s could bring the most to the
economic and social development of the country.
Promote ICT awareness and learning.
Reducing the Digital Divide (4)
A niche supplier in the ICT’s field - the
exploitation of assets:
The use of the « thinking force »
Software factories, call centers.
Software for Internet access in own language
Specialized software applications corresponding to
national conditions e.g. in land and water
management, telemedicine, risk management.
The provision of specialized hardware
components where a specific skill, or resource,
In conclusion
Information and Communication Technologies offer
a tremendous potential for the economic, social and
cultural development of all nations. Its successful
exploitation by developing countries depends very
much on the quality of the governance that will be
exercised by the responsible authorities in terms of
innovation and technology transfer.
International cooperation can definitely help but the
fundamental choices remain a national prerogative.

Strategic issues for the development and utilisation of