The Use and Economic Impacts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Sudan

Samia S. O. M. Nour

#2011-060

This paper discusses the use, economic importance and impact of the use of ICT in public and private Sudanese universities. We explain that the use of ICT has grown, despite many obstacles in Sudan. Different from the Sudanese literature, a novel element in our analysis is that we use new primary data from an ICT university survey undertaken in Sudan in 2009. We provide a new contribution and fill a significant gap in the Sudanese literature by examining from demand perspective and from the public-private perspective, the status, pattern, structure and determinants of demand for ICT and the economic impacts of ICT use: the potential opportunities and challenges that ICT is expected to create and role of ICT in facilitating production, creation and transfer of knowledge in public and private Sudanese universities. Our results verify the hypotheses that the use of ICT, mainly Internet, facilitates connections, networks and communication within knowledge institutions in Sudan and with regional and international institutions. The use of ICT also enhances collaboration between Sudanese universities and regional and international universities and integration of Sudanese universities into the system of global knowledge production. Our findings support the hypothesis that the use of ICT enhances access, production and dissemination of knowledge in Sudanese universities. Finally, our findings support the hypothesis that the use of ICT introduces the 'creative-destruction' effect by providing opportunities for transformation and knowledge production, but simultaneously also creates hazards to transformation and knowledge production in knowledge institutions in public and private universities in Sudan: the positive transformation is building connections and organisational changes, whilst the negative transformation is building disconnections for those who do not share the knowledge and do not know how to use ICT. We find that the most important advantages related to the use of Internet for facilitating connections and transformation and enhancing the production, creation and transfer of knowledge include: increasing digital knowledge for academics and researchers through information that was earlier not available or accessible; rapid quantitative (in number) and qualitative (efficiency and speed) increase in transferring available information; development of a new model for disseminating and distributing electronic information, where the information has moved towards the user; increased creation and transfer of knowledge; and increased free access to electronic publications for academic purposes. Our findings indicate that the top problem related to the use of Internet is the lack of, or inadequate, regular budget for university libraries to pay for access to scientific and technical information and have licenses or subscriptions to international journals. We recommend further efforts to be made to facilitate the use of ICT for enhancing knowledge and hence economic development in Sudan.

Key words: ICT demand, ICT impacts, public-private universities, knowledge, Sudan.

JEL Classification: O10, O12, O30