The report examines how policy-makers, the donor community and the private sector have prioritised and sequenced ICT initiatives in the aftermath of conflict. In addition, the report proposes a conceptual framework to understand how ICTs can contribute to improving service delivery and assisting with nation-building. In this summary report and a series of country case studies, the World Bank is exploring the transformative role that ICTs can have in post-conflict nations during the process of reconstruction. The case studies look at countries at different stages of post-conflict reconstruction: Afghanistan, Liberia, Rwanda, Timor-Leste and post-revolution Tunisia.
Six recommendations emerge from the report for governments and international agencies—including security, humanitarian, and development agencies—concerned with postconflict reconstruction. These are as follows:
- ICT strategies for reconstruction need to be rooted in specific national contexts and integrated with other stabilisation and reconstruction initiatives. Research and analysis, involving all relevant stakeholders, are essential for appropriate approaches. As in other areas of postconflict reconstruction, it is important that interventions made by different agencies are consistent with one another in the way that they respond to national needs.
- Stabilisation is the most important priority in the immediate aftermath of conflict. Security, humanitarian, and development agencies should plan ahead for the rapid deployment of emergency ICT networks that will facilitate stabilisation, including early warning systems that will help to avoid the recrudescence of violent conflict.
- Communications networks should be a priority in rebuilding national infrastructure. International communications businesses have shown that they are prepared to invest in mobile telecommunications networks very soon after the signature of peace agreements. The rapid reestablishment of communications networks will facilitate social cohesion and economic recovery. Governments should take urgent action to remove legal and regulatory barriers to investment and issue competitive licences for communications operators. International agencies can provide essential expertise.
- Opportunities for citizen engagement in reconstruction should be fostered, but also monitored to ensure that they are inclusive and do not become vehicles for advocating renewed conflict. New and online media offer new opportunities for public expression and for transparency and accountability which can be powerful agents for empowerment and inclusiveness. They can also contribute to formal “truth and reconciliation” processes. However, new and traditional media can also be abused by those hostile to reconstruction and reconciliation. Development actors should invest in media training and facilitate diverse ownership and inclusive participation in all forms of media.
- ICT strategies should form part of plans for long-term reconstruction and development. It is now widely agreed that ICTs contribute substantially to social and economic development. There is wide-ranging experience from developing countries of their increasing value in health and education, agriculture, and enterprise development. National strategies which include infrastructure, access, and applications development, built on a careful understanding of local communications markets and priorities, increase the likelihood that ICTs will enable sustainable developmental gains. They should be included in national development planning from an early stage.
- Development agencies should share experience of ICTs in postconflict reconstruction more effectively. There is a growing body of experience of the use of ICTs in postconflict contexts. While contexts vary, more extensive experience sharing would enable governments and development agencies to make more effective use of ICTs at all stages of postconflict work, from short-term stabilisation to long-term development.