• Information and communication technology (ICT) is an effective means for economic and social progress in developing countries, touching sectors like education, administration, business and trade. However, many developing countries lack sustainable local ICT service providers, ICT-driven businesses and ICT experts and managers. This is often attributed to the lack of resources and proper strategies (or their poor implementation) in these countries.
  • As far as developing countries are concerned, over the last decade two trends have been highlighted as conduits for economic growth and development: the expanding use of information and communication technology (ICT), and the survival and competitiveness of small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs). With the onset of the knowledge economy, where economic growth is increasingly dependent on a country’s capacity to create, process, accumulate and disseminate knowledge, together with the accelerated pace of globalization, companies that are slow to adopt ICT as an integral part of their business operations and capabilities, or adapt to the increased competitive dynamics and complexity of the way modern business is conducted, will find it difficult to survive. Newer technologies, especially the internet with its ubiquitous character, have resulted in easier access to and lower costs of ICT. As such, information and communications technologies for development (ICT4D) have been widely touted as a means to accelerate development in countries and competitiveness in organizations, in particular SMEs.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are striving hard in many developing countries, particularly Iran, to prove they can be regarded as one of the stakeholders in sustainable development. Thousands of NGOs have been established and officially registered in various fields. In certain areas such as poverty reduction, NGOs play a facilitating role. In other areas such as health, education and environmental protection they are involved in awareness raising, information campaigns, advocacy and training. Some NGOs carry out research activities while trying to run advocacy for sustainable development. NGOs need technology to attain their goals, so free and open source software (FOSS) can be very useful for them because of cost-effectiveness, legality, improved stability, licensing conditions, avoidance of technology lock-in, increased organizational flexibility, enhanced cooperative culture, extension of the lifespan of existing hardware and reduction of waste (especially from the environmental point of view) and ability to attract high-level skills at low costs. A major question is how much NGOs in Iran know about and use FOSS, and how much it is helping them in achieving their goals. There is sparse literature on the issue beyond sporadic interviews and articles.
  • Providing healthcare in rural areas of developing countries is a very challenging task, since they are inhabited by the most vulnerable and most impoverished sectors of the population – those who suffer the most acute diseases. In addition, in these countries a high proportion of the medical expertise is located in urban areas, barring the most needy, those living in rural and isolated areas, from access to quality healthcare. Many initiatives have tried to improve public primary healthcare systems in rural and isolated areas by using information and communication technologies (ICT) to connect rural health centres with urban hospitals to address this issue and foster the development of rural communities (Wootton et al., 2009). The isolation and lack of infrastructure (roads, energy) of these regions make them less economically attractive for telecommunication operators to invest in deploying information and communication networks in these areas. This leaves only two solutions for connecting healthcare facilities: either they make use of satellite connections, or they build the networks themselves.
  • The problem this chapter addresses is how the presence of free and open source software (FOSS) in school communities can be increased, how to leverage the role of local attitudes and perceptions about FOSS, and best practices for foreign volunteers in encouraging sustainable adoption of FOSS in schools in developing countries. The country in the context of this Peace Corps volunteer’s experience is Ghana.