Is ICT4D Incorporating Green ICT?
There are compelling reasons why the global ICT for Development (ICT4D) movement can benefit by embracing Sustainable Green ICT. We are tracking how ICT4D initiatives incorporate GreenICT. So far, the ICT4D record is not very green.
Connecting the Next Four Billion: Strengthening the Global Response for Universal Internet Access is a collaborative effort between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a number of other organizations focused on expanding global internet access. Its value is undercut by a complete disregard of the potential negative environmental impacts and of strategies for mitigating them.
Four billion more phones or other devices would represent a 25% increase in the number of edge devices already deployed worldwide. Edge devices already account for much of the 12Mt of annual e-waste. A major push to expand internet access, absent an e-waste strategy, will dramatically increase the e-waste burden, which already disproportionately fall on developing economies.
Greatly expanded featurephone/smartphone deployment means a greatly expanded need for basestations. In developing economies, where grid power is unreliable or absent, base stations are traditionally powered by dirty diesel. Use of solar is growing, but renewables still only power less than 10% of remote base stations. Again, developing economies, already burdened by growing pollution, will suffer even more unless internet expansion is accompanied by clean power initiatives.
We encourage USAID and partners to incorporate GreenICT into its future work in this important area.
Information and Communications Technology - 8 Policy Recommendations For the advancement of Knowledge Societies across Africa was issued by a Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI) for the course 'African Leadership in ICT' and was written by an ICT4D specialist. It did recommend governments "Fully implement a Green ICT Policy" and "Develop effective e-Waste management policy and guidelines" to "Build ICT Ecosystem Resilience". This is a positive indicator that there is some awareness of the #GreenICT / #ICT4D connection.
We took a look in October 2013 at five resources recently promoted on Twitter as big-picture looks at #ICT4D topics. Here's who is NOT talking about Green ICT.
infoDev, a World Bank affiliate, released in 2012 its IC4D 2012: Maximizing Mobile report. It has a wealth of information about the mobile explosion in developing economies, with low- and middle-income economies approaching 80 subscribers per 100 people. Yet the report appears to say nothing about mitigating the environmental impact of this explosion.