Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): An enabling tool for international cooperation

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are transforming the way governments, business and individuals learn, work and communicate with each other. If they are employed strategically within development programmes to promote access and sharing of relevant knowledge as well as fostering participation of the poor and marginalised in decision- making processes that affect their lives, ICTs help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

SDC focus

The focus of SDC from 2001 to 2008 was to support international mainstreaming efforts of ICTs in development processes, e.g. through supporting a series of targeted publications, thematic roundtables and particularly through strengthening to the development perspective and the multi-stakeholder process in the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). In addition to a direct support to the WSIS process and the promotion of the active participation of Civil Society Organisations from the South and the East therein, SDC has directly participated in and supported a whole range of organisations and networks active in the area of ICT4D (see below).

Support for most of these organisations was phased out between 2008 and 2010. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) is responsible for Switzerland’s commitments in this area, in collaboration with the ECOSOC Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The SDC is currently focusing on the integration of ICTs in its own projects and programmes (as a strategic instrument).


ICTs encompass a full range of increasingly converging technologies, including traditional and emerging devices such as interactive community radios, television, mobile phones, computer and network hardware and software, the Internet, satellite systems, and podcasting. The effective use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is not just a question of infrastructure and software. It also requires an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework and the development of human capacity and relevant content. Holistic and contextualised implementation of ICTs is complex as it depends considerably on the sector or theme in which they are employed as well as the overall socio-economic context (access and affordability of infrastructure, human capacity, cultural habits). Thus ICTs should not be seen as a panacea for all development problems but rather an important tool to be applied as part of a broader strategy for sustainable development.

ICTs can be employed fulfilling three partly overlapping functions:

  • Access: Using ICTs to facilitate access to and sharing of timely and relevant information and knowledge.
  • Voice and Communication: Using ICTs to strengthen the voice of poor, excluded and disadvantaged people in decision-making and self-expression of their culture.
  • Networking: Using ICTs for networking and human communication while fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve effects on a larger scale (up-scaling).

The transformative potential of ICTs as a tool can be particularly harnessed to

  • increase efficiency: reaching more people while reducing transaction costs.
  • increase effectiveness: in terms of process, ownership, participation, networking and improvement of governance and better delivery of basic services such as education agricultural extension, microfinance and health.
  • improve innovation and productivity: for example for micro, small and medium enterprises through better access to information, credit, markets and procurement using ICT tools in management, marketing and distribution channels.



Connecting people for a better world
Are information and communication technologies (ICT) such as computers, TV or mobile phones effective instruments to empower people, reduce poverty and improve lives? This book offers new answers to these questions.
Publication ICT4D – Connecting people for a better world (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Up-scaling pro-poor ICT-policies and practices
a review of experience with emphasis on low income countries in Asia and Africa
[en] (PDF, 1.9 MB, English)

Building Bridges across Time and Space – Experience and Success of a Telemedicine Pilot Project in Mongolia
Asia Brief - May 2013
[en] (PDF, 4 Pages, 413.9 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies and large-scale poverty reduction - SDC/Panos 2005
Lessons from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Edited by Kitty Warnock and Ravi Wickremasinghe in cooperation with John McGill and Gerolf Weigel. Published by Panos London.
[en] (PDF, 799.0 kB, English)

ICTs and Education – Public-Private Partnership to connect Schools to the Net
A National Model in Switzerland - Summary of the Final Report
[en] (PDF, 11 Pages, 1.7 MB, English)

Deepening Participation and Improving Aid Effectiveness through Media and ICTs
A Practical Manual Translating Lessons Learned into Daily Practice – SDC Working Paper
[en] (PDF, 25 Pages, 632.2 kB, English)

Un seul monde
No 4/03 - Société de l'information
[fr] (PDF, 1.5 MB, French)

Chennai Statement - on Up-scaling Pro-Poor ICT Policies
[en] (PDF, 6 Pages, 143.3 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Poverty Reduction?
Discussion Paper - World Summit on Information Society WSIS 2003
[en] (PDF, 71 Pages, 759.0 kB, English)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Poverty Reduction
in Sub Saharan Africa - A learning Study (Synthesis)
[en] (PDF, 454.3 kB, English)

Current projects

Object 1213 – 1224 of 1393

Micro, Small, and Medium Entreprise Technical Assistance Facility, Phase 2

01.01.2019 - 30.03.2025

The Facility provides technical assistance to the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region to improve access to finance for MSMEs and encourage private sector led growth. It is jointly implemented by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Building on results achieved during the first phase of the Facility (2012-2018), this second phase will strengthen the legal and regulatory environment, develop financial market infrastructure and provide technical assistance to financial institutions.The SECO contribution will focus on activities in Egypt and in Tunisia.

Light Manufacturing Jobs and Competitiveness Program

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

The IFC Light Manufacturing Jobs and Competitiveness Program aims to revitalize economic integration of and within the Western Balkan region in order to promote economic growth and job creation.

Sustainable Cities Platform

01.12.2018 - 30.11.2023

The availability and quality of urban infrastructure and related services constitute an essential basis for enhancing competitiveness, reducing poverty and environmental and climate change impacts.

Flood Risk Management in the Polog Region, North Macedonia

01.12.2018 - 31.12.2023

SECO’s contribution to the "Resilience to Floods in the Polog Region" program aims at improving the resilience to floods of the Polog region of Macedonia through institutional strengthening, flood mitigation infrastructure and Swiss knowledge transfer.

Egmont Center of FIU Excellence and Leadership (ECOFEL) 2018-2022

01.12.2018 - 30.11.2023

Money laundering and the financing of terrorism pose a serious threat to the international financial system. A key institution in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in every country is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Agri-Processing Resource Efficiency in South Africa

15.11.2018 - 31.12.2023

The Agri-Processing Resource Efficiency (APRE) project implemented by IFC in South Africa aims at improving water use efficiency and productivity as well as energy use among companies in the agri-processing industry, in order to reduce operational costs and mitigate climate change risks.

Financial Sector Supervision Tajikistan

01.11.2018 - 31.10.2022

This project provides technical assistance in support to the National Bank of Tajikistan (NBT) to address long-term financial stability issues, to strengthen regulation and to set up robust supervisory capacities. As a result of this project, an appropriate financial sector supervisory framework will be in place and gradually enforced.

UNODC fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, Phase II

01.11.2018 - 30.06.2023

The project supports several SECO priority countries and their neighbors in their endeavor to comply with the international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). UNODC Mentors placed in the region provide the technical assistance and thus contribute to combat illicit financial flows.

Faizobod Water and Wastewater Project

01.11.2018 - 31.12.2026

Access to safe drinking water and sanitation services for the population of Faizobod is limited and of poor service quality due to deteriorated Soviet era infrastructure. The Project will increase access to safely managed, efficient and better-quality water supply and wastewater services and improve operational performance of the water utility.

OECD Tax and Development Programme, Phase I

01.10.2018 - 31.12.2020

OECD - Tax Program for Dev. Countries

This program with the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration supports developing countries to address international tax issues related to base erosion and profit shifting as well as tax transparency. It contributes to a level playing field in the development of standards and supports implementation.

Urban Transformation Program

01.09.2018 - 30.06.2024

Urban transformation has become one of the top priorities of Colombian cities for tackling their growing urban challenges. The SECO supported Urban Transformation Program aims at (re-)vitalizing the public space through innovative urban infrastructures in selected Colombian Cities in order to promote their economic development.

Data for Decisions

01.07.2018 - 30.06.2025

The thematic Trust Fund "Data for Decisions" (D4D) is a multi-donor trust fund implemented by the IMF. It supports countries in the production of more and better data in the area of macroeconomic and financial statistics in order to improve decision-making. The Swiss contribution in the amount of CHF 4 million covers the period 2018-2023.

Object 1213 – 1224 of 1393