The Pacific Islands region is in the midst of an information and communications technology (ICT) revolution that could have profound implications, particularly for democratic governance and the region’s development. Approximately 60 per cent of Pacific Islanders now have access to a mobile phone and this figure continues to climb. Mobile Internet is leapfrogging obvious barriers to Internet access such as geographical remoteness, financial cost and availability. A boom in mobile phone use has facilitated the rise of social media in the Pacific.
This Lowy Institute Analysis describes some of the early impacts of the region’s ICT revolution. In particular, the combination of these powerful digital tools has given Pacific Islanders greater opportunity to participate in national discourse, form online networks and coordinate public protest. They are also providing Pacific Islanders with a means to challenge some of the ways in which they are governed, improving transparency and accountability. This ICT revolution also has great implications for the region’s development, although so far these new tools have been underutilised in this sphere. Pacific Island governments, the private sector and international donors could make far better use of the region’s ICT revolution, in particular, supporting more effective resource allocation and greater service delivery, by using digital tools such as mobile applications and crowdsourcing.