Computers and development : the Zambian experience
Kelly, Michael John F.
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The use of computers in developing countries is growing rapidly in recent years, particularly as a result of recent advances in computer technology. An understanding of the ways in which computers are used in developing countries, and of the impact which their widespread use will have on development of these countries, is assuming new importance. This study was designed to examine these questions in relation to the practical experience of Zambia.The primary source for the study was a survey of those people, both computer experts and computer users, who have substantial experience of working with computers in Zambia. A total of 88 people were surveyed, in 55 organisations drawn from all sectors of the Zambian economy.The main findings of the survey are that –(a)Computers in Zambia are being used in ways which are different from those established in the West, (a) Computers are not installed to reduce costs or staff, but to remedy the ski^iis shortages which reduce efficiency and productivity in organisations in these countries,(c)Computerisation has been accepted readily in Zambian society, and there is no evidence of any problems caused by computers to date. However, problems may emerge as the scale of computer usage increases in the future.In relation to development theories, the material from this study would support the modernisation school view that computers have great potential to support and accelerate the development of developing countries. The use of computers does involve dependence to some extent, but it is suggested that this may be less serious than in the case of other modern technologies. The degree of dependence caused by computerisation is also related to the effort made by a developing country to develop its own expertise and safeguard its own interests.In general,computers have a great potential to assist development, but each country also needs to take steps to exploit the technology in its own best interests, and to ensure that society adapts to the changes involved with a minimum of disruption.