Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Websites as Catalysts for National Development
Keywords:Websites, Caribbean, egovernment, egovernance, regional and national development, information and communication technology for development.
AbstractSmall-island developing states (SIDS) enhance their competitiveness by advertising development initiatives that promote and encourage direct foreign inward investment opportunities in major markets. Failure to make use of information communication technologies (ICTs) can undermine national development initiatives with transformative potential. Based on this logic, some Caribbean governments have followed international best practices of businesses and have moved towards the creation of websites and the establishment of portals or gateway sites on the World Wide Web to announce their presence. One of the practical implications of such initiatives is based on the assumption that once websites are built, persons will come. Although for many, the development of a website appears to be an innocuous endeavour this mistaken perception in most cases has led to several sites being designed and commissioned as technical projects mostly employing techno-centric approaches. These policies often ignore the accompanying important socio-technical institutional considerations, such as the importance of timely and accurate information to potential business clients or prospective developers, language capabilities, and a range of standards, guidelines, rules and legislative changes. The central thesis of this conceptual paper is that if member states of the region properly conceptualise and design websites and portals they can be used to achieve strategic national and international development objectives of egovernance in its broadest meaning. The arguments are intended to stimulate thought among policy makers and the private sector alike in the Caribbean with a view to bringing about change that will promote sustainable development.
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