Information and communication technologies for development

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An OLPC class in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Inveneo Computing Station

Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the fields of socioeconomic development, international development, and human rights. The theory behind this is, more and better information and communication furthers the development of a society.

Aside from its reliance on technology, ICT4D also requires an understanding of community development, poverty, agriculture, healthcare, and basic education. This makes ICT4D appropriate technology, and if it is shared openly, open source appropriate technology.[1] Richard Heeks suggests that the I in ICT4D is related with "library and information sciences", the C is associated with "communication studies", the T is linked with "information systems", and the D for "development studies".[2] It is aimed at bridging the digital divide and assisting economic development by fostering equitable access to modern communications technologies, and it is a powerful tool for economic and social development.[3] Other terms can also be used for "ICT4D" or "ICT4Dev" ("ICT for development") such as ICTD ("ICT and development", which is used in a broader sense[4]) and development informatics.

ICT4D can refer to assisting disadvantaged populations anywhere in the world, but it is usually associated with applications in developing countries.[5] It is concerned with directly applying information technology approaches to poverty reduction. ICTs can be applied directly, benefiting the disadvantaged population, or indirectly, by assisting aid organizations, non-governmental organizations, governments, and/or businesses, to improve socio-economic conditions.

The field is an interdisciplinary research area, quickly growing through a number of conferences, workshops and publications,[6][7][8] but there is a need for scientifically validated benchmarks and results, to measure the effectiveness of current projects.[9] This field has also produced an informal community of technical and social science researchers who rose out of the annual ICT4D conferences.[10]


Theoretical background[edit]

The ICT4D discussion falls into a broader school of thought that proposes to use technology for development. The theoretical foundation can be found in the Schumpeterian notion of socio-economic evolution,[11] which consists of an incessant process of creative destruction that modernizes the modus operandi of society as a whole, including its economic, social, cultural, and political organization.[12]

The motor of this incessant force of creative destruction is technological change.[13][14] While the key carrier technology of the first Industrial Revolution (1770–1850) was based on water-powered mechanization, the second Kondratiev wave (1850–1900) was enabled by steam-powered technology, the third (1900–1940) was characterized by the electrification of social and productive organization, the fourth by motorization and the automated mobilization of society (1940–1970), and the most recent one by the digitization of social systems.[11] Each one of those so-called long waves has been characterized by a sustained period of social modernization, most notably by sustained periods of increasing economic productivity. According to Carlota Perez: "this quantum jump in productivity can be seen as a technological revolution, which is made possible by the appearance in the general cost structure of a particular input that we could call the 'key factor', fulfilling the following conditions: (1) clearly perceived low-and descending-relative cost; (2) unlimited supply for all practical purposes; (3) potential all-pervasiveness; (4) a capacity to reduce the costs of capital, labour and products as well as to change them qualitatively".[14] Digital Information and Communication Technologies fulfill those requirements and therefore represent a general purpose technology that can transform an entire economy, leading to a modern, and more developed form of socio-economic and political organization often referred to as the post-industrial society, the fifth Kondratiev, Information society, digital age, and network society, among others.

ICT4D cube: an interplay between technology (horizontal: green), society (vertical: blue), policy (diagonal: yellow/red) Source

The declared goal of ICT-for-development is to make use of this ongoing transformation by actively using the enabling technology to improve the living conditions of societies and segments of society.[15] As in previous social transformations of this kind (industrial revolution, etc.), the resulting dynamic is an interplay between an enabling technology, normative guiding policies and strategies, and the resulting social transformation.[11][12][13] In the case of ICT4D, this three-dimensional interplay has been depicted as a cube.[16] In line with the Schumpeterian school of thought, the first enabling factor for the associated socio-economic transformations is the existence of technological infrastructure: hardware infrastructure and generic software services. Additionally, capacity and knowledge are the human requirements to make use of these technologies. These foundations (horizontal green dimension in Figure) are the basis for the digitization of information flows and communication mechanisms in different sectors of society. When part of the information flows and communication processes in these sectors are carried out in e-lectronic networks, the prefix "e-" is often added to the sector's name, resulting in e-government, e-business and e-commerce, e-health, and e-learning, etc. (vertical blue dimension in Figure). This process of transformation represent the basic requirements and building blocks, but they are not sufficient for development. The mere existence of technology is not enough to achieve positive outcomes (no technological determinism). ICT for Development policies and projects are aimed at the promotion of normatively desired outcomes of this transformation, the minimization of negative effects, and the removal of eventual bottlenecks. In essence, there are two kinds of interventions: positive feedback (incentives, projects, financing, subsidies, etc. that accentuate existing opportunities); and negative feedback (regulation and legislation, etc.) that limit and tame negative developments (diagonal yellow-red dimension in Figure).[16]


The intentional use of communication to foster development is not new. So-called development communication research during the 1960s and 1970s set the ground for most existing development programs and institutions in the field of ICT4D, with Wilbur Schramm, Nora C. Quebral and Everett Rogers being influential figures in this academic discipline. In modern times, ICT4D has been divided into three periods:[17]

  • ICT4D 0.0: mid-1950s to late-1990s. This was before the creation of the term "ICT4D". The focus was on broadcasting development communication, computing / data processing for back-office applications in large government and private sector organizations in developing countries. One of the earliest records of computer usage for development was back in 1956 in India. It was during this time that HEC-2M, the developing world's first computer, was installed to undertake numerical calculations in the Indian Institute of Statistics in Kolkata, including statistical analyses for India’s national plans such as the Second Five-Year Plan (1956–61). Prof. Dwijesh Dutta Majumder, one of the original members that worked with HEC-2M who is now Professor Emeritus at the ISI, can be credited as the Godfather of ICT4D and the HEC-2M as ICT4D's first computer [18]
  • ICT4D 1.0: late-1990s to late-2000s. The combined advent of the Millennium Development Goals and mainstream usage of the Internet in industrialized countries led to a rapid rise in investment in ICT infrastructure and ICT programs/projects in developing countries. The most typical application was the telecentre, used to bring information on development issues such as health, education, and agricultural extension, into poor communities. More recently, telecentres might also deliver online or partly online government services.
  • ICT4D 2.0: late-2000s onwards. There is no clear boundary between phase 1.0 and 2.0 but suggestions of moving to a new phase include the change from the telecentre to the mobile phone as the archetypal application. There is less concern with e-readiness and more interest in the impact of ICTs on development. Additionally, there is more focus on the poor as producers and innovators with ICTs (as opposed to being consumers of ICT-based information). ICT4D 2.0 is about reframing the poor. Where ICT4D 1.0 marginalised them, allowing a supply-driven focus, ICT4D 2.0 centralises them, creating a demand-driven focus. Where ICT4D 1.0 –- fortified by the "bottom of the pyramid" concept –- characterized them largely as passive consumers, ICT4D 2.0 sees the poor as active producers and active innovators.[19]

There is no sharp dividing line between ICT4D phases. On the ground, there is a sense of evolution, not discontinuity. Richard Heeks[19] presents the table below to summarize the ICT4D phases:

Issue // Phase ICT4D 0.0 ICT4D 1.0 ICT4D 2.0
Iconic technology PC database Telecentre Mobile phone
Key application Data processing Content (and iteration) Services and production
The poor Who? Consumers Innovators and producers
Key goal Organizational efficiency MDGs Growth and development
Key issue Technology's potential Readiness and availability Uptake and impact
Key actor Government Donors and NGOs All sectors
Attitude Ignore → Isolate Idolise → Integrate Integrate → innovate
Innovation model Northern Pro-poor → Para-poor Para-poor → per-poor
Dominant discipline Information Systems Informatics/Development Studies Tribrid of CS, IS, and DS
Development paradigm Modernisation Human development Development 2.0

As information and communication technologies evolve, so does ICT4D: more recently it has been suggested that big data can be used as an important ICT tool for development and that it represents a natural evolution of the ICT4D paradigm.[20]

Values framework[edit]

It is unusual for an objective endeavor, a research, to have corresponding values. However, since ICT4D is foremost an initiative as well as an advocacy, it can be that development itself opts for a certain ideal or state; as such, values in developmental research can be included. The Kuo Model of Informatization has three dimensions, namely: infrastructure, economy, and people. These dimensions correspond to:[21]

  • Education and literacy levels
  • Economic indicators (GNP, GDP, etc.)
  • Telecommunications and media infrastructure

However, this may not be applicable to all countries. The three dimensions in the model correlate with each other, but Alexander Flor notes that in his country, the Philippines, the model is not be entirely suitable due to the following reasons:

  • The high education and literacy levels are not directly correlated with telecommunications infrastructure and degree of economic development.
  • The correlation between the degrees of telecommunications infrastructure and economic development cannot easily be established.

Flor proposes a new dimension be added to the Kuo Model - values dimension. This dimension can be operationalized through government priority indicators, subsidy levels, and corruption levels among others. He proposes the following values for this dimension: equality, complementarity, integration, participation and inclusion, development from within, and convergence.[22]

Access and use of ICT[edit]

The general perception is that people who have access to ICT will benefit from it, and those who don’t would not. Benefits include theoretically, boundless information sharing, connectivity, decentralization, and globalization. Those who don’t have access to technology run the risk of being marginalized and bypassed. In his blog, Richard Heek’s further categorizes the users and non-users of ICTs into Non-Users, Indirect Users, Shared Users, and Owner-Users.[23]

Non-Users: those who have no access to either ICTs or ICT-based information and services. Indirect Users: those who do not get hands-on themselves, but gain access to digital information and services via those who are direct users. Shared Users: those who do not own the technology, but who directly use ICT owned by someone else (a friend, workplace, ICT business, community, etc.). Owner-Users: those who own and use the technology. Heeks says that non-users of technology can benefit from ICT4D in what he calls spillover benefits. Spillover benefits are "situations in which some category of user gains a benefit from ICT while non-users also gain a (lesser) benefit." [23]

ICT4D projects often employ low-cost, low-powered technology which are sustainable in a developing environment. The challenge is hard, since it is estimated that 40% of the world's population has less than US$20 per year available to spend on ICT. In Brazil, the poorest 20% of the population counts with merely US$9 per year to spend on ICT (US$0.75 per month).[24]

In Latin America it is estimated that the borderline between ICT as a necessity good and ICT as a luxury good is roughly US$10 per person per month, or US$120 per year.[24] This is the cost ICT people seem to strive for and therefore is generally accepted as a minimum. In light of this reality, telecentre, desktop virtualization and multiseat configurations currently seem the most simple and common paths to affordable computing.

ICT4D projects need to be properly monitored and implemented, as the system's design and user interface should be suitable to the target users. ICT4D projects installed without proper coordination with its beneficiary community have a tendency to fall short of the main objectives. For example, in the usage of ICT4D projects in those farming sectors where a majority of the population are considered to be technologically illiterate, projects lie idle with materials sometimes becoming damaged or obsolete.

Further, there should be a line of communication between the project coordinator and the user for immediate response to the query of, or the difficulty encountered by, the user. Addressing the problem properly will help encourage the user via interactivity and participation.

Peer to peer dialogues facilitated by Cisco’s Telepresence technology is now being used, connecting 10 centers around the world to discuss the best practices on the use of ICT in urban service delivery.

ICT4D is also given a new take in the introduction of Web 2.0. With the 5.2 billion internet users, the power generated by the internet should be noticed. With social networking at the frontier of the new web, ICT can have a new approach. Updates, news and ordinances are spread readily by these applications; feedback system can be more evident. In the Philippines, the administration now uses social media to converse more with its citizens for it makes people feel more in touch with the highest official in the land.[25] Another innovation is a standard suite of city indicators that enable mayors and citizens to monitor the performance of their city with others, a valuable tool in obtaining consistent & comparable city-level data.

Geographic information systems (GIS) are also used in several ICT4D applications, such as the Open Risk Data Initiative (OpenRDI). OpenRDI aims to minimize the effect of disaster in developing countries by encouraging them to open their disaster risk data. GIS technologies such as satellite imagery, thematic maps, and geospatial data play a big part in disaster risk management. One example is the HaitiData, where maps of Haiti containing layers of geospatial data (earthquake intensity, flooding likelihood, landslide and tsunami hazards, overall damage, etc..) are made available which can then be used by decision makers and policy makers for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country.[26][27] The areas which are receiving priority attention include natural resources information assessment, monitoring and management, water shed development, environmental planning, urban services and land use planning.[28]

Many of these initiatives are a mixture of donor agency support, international intervention, and local community enterprise. For instance, the wireless Town Information Network implemented in the town of Slavutych (Ukraine) to address social-economic issues in the context of the closure of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was supported by international donors, development consultants, and most importantly, local stakeholders.[29] E-bario (Malaysia) is an example of a grassroots initiative which was also supported by a wider network and is an initiative which has endured and overcome many of the pitfalls of ICT4D projects.[30]

Mainstreaming VS Sidestreaming

There is no doubt that mainstreaming ICT helps fastens its growth and development. However, there are some negative effects that come with it. Sometimes people lose the focus for learning more about ICT4D because most of the attention are given to making it widely known. Adjustments are also being made with regard to technological innovation so that more people can make use of it which unfortunately decreases hope for something and motivation for a positive change. People overlook too, the ICT sector and digital economy roles in development, and miss technology’s cross-cutting, integrative capabilities and future developments and transformative changes. Thus, it is mainstreaming is not enough. There is also a need for sidestreaming which means retaining and supporting specialists ICT4D units within the UN system overall; individual UN organisations; international development agencies; national development agencies; national governments; international NGOs; etc. Both mainstreaming and side streaming should be improved and worked on with the same level of focused effort. Side streaming gives room for learning, motivation, hope, change, ICT-based livelihoods, integration, transformation, etc. - focusing and working on not only on the positive impacts of ICT4D but also the negative.[31]

Thus, ICT4D will help the next generation to use data-driven agricultural modeling and decision making applications that can help companies, governments and farmers in the food chain to make informed decisions. Two different concepts will provide complementary perspectives on the value of data in this context, the knowledge and application chain.

Application areas[edit]

Sectoral and thematic applications[edit]

Development work is categorised by sectors and themes by the international development assistance community. Sectors are made up of the following: infrastructure; industry; agriculture; natural resources; health; education; private; and public. Agriculture, education and rural livelihoods are the most extensively studied sectors.[32] The following developmental themes are common to these development sectors: environment; gender; participation; sustainable development; governance; sub-regionalisation; regionalisation; and globalisation. Thus, almost every development project proposed, funded and implemented contains an ICT component or element in the form of the design and development of information systems or the provision for public awareness employing digital tools.[32]

Civic engagement[edit]

New forms of technology, such as social media platforms, provide spaces where individuals can participate in expressions of civic engagement. Researchers are now realizing that activity such as Twitter use,"…that could easily be dismissed as leisure or mundane should be considered under a broader conceptualization of development research." [33]

Social Networking Sites (SNS) are indispensable for it provides a venue for civic engagement for its users to call attention to issues that needs action because of the nature of social media platforms as an effective tool in disseminating information to all its users. Social media can also be used as a support venue for solving problems and also a means for reporting criminal activity or calamity issues that affects the well being of communities. Social media is also used for inciting volunteerism by letting others know of situations in places that requires civic intervention and organize activities to make it happen.

Civic engagement plays a large part in E-Government, particularly in the area of Transparency and Accountability. ICTs are used to promote openness in the government as well as a platform for citizens to report on anomalous government activities for the purpose of reducing corruption and in promoting efficiency.

Even before the advent or popularity of social media platforms, internet forums were already present. Here, people could share their concerns about pertinent topics to seek solutions.

In third-world countries like the Philippines, the text brigade is an easy method for informing and gathering people for whatever purpose. It usually starts with an individual sending an SMS to his/her direct contacts about a civic engagement. Then he/she requests the recipients to send the same message to their own contacts as well until the number of people involved gets bigger and bigger.

Climate, weather and emergency response[edit]

The use of ICT in weather forecasting is broad. Weather forecasting offices use mass media to inform the public on weather updates. After tropical storm Ondoy in the Philippines, the Filipino people are more curious and aware about the weather hazards. Meteorological offices are also using advanced tools to monitor the weather and the weather systems that may affect a certain area.

Monitoring devices[34]

In Africa, were flood is one of the major concerns of farmers. The International Water Management Institute launched the mobile services for flood management, specifically in East Sudan. These mobile services are considered as a next generation ICT for weather and water information. The tool converts complex satellite sensor information to simple text messages which are sent to farmers informing them about the optimum use of flood water for crop production. The text messages would also warn the farmers about the flood events which would help them prepare their fields and advise on how to mitigate flood damage in estimating the risk of future flood events. [[35]]

Climate change is a global phenomenon affecting the lives of mankind. In time of calamities we need information and communication technology for disaster management. Various organisations, government agencies and small and large-scale research projects have been exploring the use of ICT for relief operations, providing early warnings and monitoring extreme weather events.[36] A review of new ICTs and climate change in developing countries highlighted that ICT can be used for (1) Monitoring: observing, detecting and predicting, and informing science and decision making; (2) Disaster management: supporting emergency response through communications and information sharing, and providing early warning systems; and (3) Adaptation: supporting environmental, health and resource management activities, up-scaling technologies and building resilience.[36] In the Philippines, institutions like the National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Council help the public in monitoring the weather and advisory for any possible risks due to hazardous weather. NetHope is another global organization which contributes disaster management and awareness through information technology. According to ICT companies can be victims, villains or heroes of climate change.

In 2014 when typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, the CDAC network utilized different technologies to coordinate and communicate efforts between the affected communities and the different network's volunteer organizations. CDAC saw the value of communication in responding to the disaster. They emphasized getting accurate and timely information as being crucial to saving lives. One of the organizations and tools that they tapped was the Digital Humanitarian Network. The Digital Humanitarian Network is a group of organizations with various tools that contribute to crisis mapping. These tools were used to manage information that are received about the disaster. The tools they use allow them to monitor media - including social media, create live crisis maps, analyze the data they have, etc. [[37]].

In 2015, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) launched a website Be Prepared Metro Manila. The website collates information regarding earthquake preparedness. This was created in response to a predicted earthquake, expected to hit Metro Manila with a 7.2 intensity and it contains different info-graphics containing precautionary measures that can be used to monitor and prepare for earthquakes.[38] Be Prepared Metro Manila explains how to respond in the event of an earthquake, illustrates the valley fault system, lists down details of emergency contacts, and opens a sign up process for people interested to be volunteers.[39] In addition to the campaign launched by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has also utilized ICT through the use of both web application and mobile application for the DOST - Project Noah. According to DOST, NOAH’s mission is to undertake disaster science research and development, advance the use of cutting edge technologies, and recommend innovative information services in government’s disaster prevention and mitigation efforts. Through the use of science and technology and in partnership with the academe and other stakeholders, the DOST through Program NOAH is taking a multi-disciplinary approach in developing systems, tools, and other technologies that could be operationalized by government to help prevent and mitigate disasters.[40]

People with disabilities[edit]

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world's total population have disabilities. This is approximately 600 million people wherein three out of every four are living in developing countries, half are of working age, half are women and the highest incidence and prevalence of disabilities occurs in poor areas.[41] With ICT, lives of people with disabilities can be improved, allowing them to have a better interaction in society by widening their scope of activities.

Goals of ICT and disability work

  • Give disabled people a powerful tool in their battle to gain employment
  • Increase disabled people’s skills, confidence, and self-esteem
  • Integrate disabled people socially and economically into their communities;
  • Reduce physical or functional barriers and enlarge scope of activities available to disabled persons
  • Develop a web content that can be accessed by persons with disabilities especially the visually impaired and hearing impaired

At the international level, there are numerous guiding documents impacting on the education of people with disabilities such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), moving to the Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005). The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) includes policies about accessibility, non-discrimination, equal opportunity, full and effective participation and other issues. The key statement within the CRPD (2006) relevant for ICT and people with disabilities is within Article 9:

"To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and rural areas. (p. 9)"

Another international policy that has indirect implications for the use of ICT by people with disabilities are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Although these do not specifically mention the right to access ICT for people with disabilities, two key elements within the MDGs are to reduce the number of people in poverty and to reach out to the marginalised groups without access to ICT.[42]

ICT Programs:

  • Estonian e-Learning Development Centre and Primus- One activity of Primus is to develop and run a support system for students with special needs. This is done by: developing different support services (e.g. digitalising and recording teaching material for students with visual impairments, creating training courses); improving learning environments (assessing physical accessibility of buildings); running a scholarship scheme for students with special needs to support their full participation in studies.[42]
  • European Unified Approach for Assisted Lifelong Learning (EU4ALL)- The aim of this initiative is to create an accessible and adapted course addressed to students with different disabilities – cognitive, physical and sensory. The course was designed through an Instructional Learning Design. The learner is given access to a course with activities and resources personalised according to the student’s needs profile.[42]
  • Plan Ceibal - aims to promote digital inclusion in order to reduce the digital gap with other countries, as well as among the citizens of Uruguay. In order to support better access to education and culture, every pupil in the public education system is being given a laptop. Within Plan Ceibal an initiative began at the end of 2008 to provide tools to improve accessibility of the laptop for learners with special needs, using particular assistive technology aids in classes equipped with these machines.[42]
  • Leren en werken met autisme (Learning and working with autism)- is a DVD with several tools aimed at helping students with autism or autistic spectrum disorders in their transition from education to work, or workplace training settings. One of the tools is the wai-pass–specific e-portfolio software. This e-portfolio not only provides information about the skills and competences of a particular student, but also about his/her behavior in particular settings and situations. This type of very relevant information is gathered by teachers throughout the student’s school career and often vanishes when a student leaves school. Through this e-portfolio tool, the information can be easily disclosed to (potential) employers. There is also a Toolkit for workplace learning and traineeship and Autiwerkt, a movie and a website with roadmaps, tips and tricks on traineeship and preparation for regular employment of students.[42]
  • Everyday Technologies for Children with Special Needs (EvTech)- is a collaborative initiative aiming to increase the possibilities of children with special needs to make choices and influence their environments in everyday life by developing individualised technical environments and tools for children and their families.[42]
  • Discapnet- website dealing with disability issues.[41]

In education[edit]

One of the main sectors that ICT4D aims to develop is education.

Education is recognized as an important factor in addressing and solving social issues that exist in societies. While education indeed is recognized as important in addressing social issues, the limited resources that countries have also limits the expansion and quality of education that is being delivered by traditional educational systems.

The use of ICTs in the educational system would not be able to solve the current problems in the educational system, but rather provide alternative solutions to the obstacles encountered in the conventional educational system. ICTs would be able to provide education and knowledge in a wider reach, even with a limited amount of resource, unlike conventional systems of education.[43]

Countries with national programs and good practice examples of ICT use in education include: [44]

  • Chile: the Chilean experience[45]
  • Costa Rica: The Ministry of Education and Fundación Omar Dengo’s partnership
  • India (Kerala): IT@school
  • Bangladesh: Computer Aided Learning (CAL) Initiative by BRAC,[46] e-book by National textbook and Carriculum Board of Bangladesh,[47] Multimedia Class Room by Access to Information (a2i) Programme[48]
  • Jordan Education Initiative
  • Macedonia's Primary Education Project (PEP)
  • Malaysia: Smart School
  • Namibia’s ICTs in Education Initiative, TECH/NA!
  • Russia: E-Learning Support Project
  • Singapore's Masterplan for ICT in Education (now in its third edition)[49]
  • South Korea: first aid beneficiary now donor,[50] the Korea Education Research & Information Service (KERIS)
  • Uruguay: small South American country, Plan Ceibal

ICT has been employed in many education projects and research over the world. The Hole in the Wall (also known as minimally invasive education) is one of the projects which focuses on the development of computer literacy and the improvement of learning. Other projects included the utilization of mobile phone technology to improve educational outcomes.[51]

In the Philippines, there are key notes that have been forwarded to expand the definition of ICT4E from an exclusive high-end technology to include low-end technology; that is, both digital and analog.[52] As a leading mobile technology user, the Philippines can take advantage of this for student learning. One project that serves as an example is Project Mind,[53] a collaboration of the Molave Development Foundation, Health Sciences University of Mongolia, ESP Foundation, and the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) which focuses on the viability of Short Message System (SMS) for distance learning. Pedagogy, Teacher Training, and Personnel Management are some of the subgroups of ICT4E. UPOU is one of the best examples of education transformation that empowers the potential of ICT in the Philippines' education system. By maximizing the use of technology to create a wide range of learning, UPOU promotes lifelong learning in a more convenient way.

Since the education sector plays a vital role in economic development, Education System in developing countries should align with the fast evolving technology because technological literacy is one of the required skills in our current era. ICT can enhance the quality of education by increasing learner motivation and engagement, by facilitating the acquisition of basic skills and by enhancing teacher training which will eventually improve communication and exchange of information that will strengthen and create economic and social development.[54]

In rural livelihood[edit]

Agriculture is the most vital sector for ICT intervention most especially that majority of the population around the world rely on agriculture to live sustainably. Dr. Alexander G. Flor, author of the book ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development, agriculture provides our most basic human needs that are food, clothing and shelter.

Ever since people have this natural way of thinking on how they can survive and make a living by harvesting crops used for food and fiber, raising livestock such as cow, sheep and poultry that produces animal products like wool, dairy and eggs, catching fish or any edible marine life for food or for sale, forestry and logging to grow and harvest timber to build shelter. With agriculture, people learned and acquired knowledge through sharing information with each other but of course this is not enough as there are also changes and developments in agriculture. Farmers should be able to take hold of updated information like prices, production techniques, services, storage, processing and the like. Evidently, updated information with the change and developments in agriculture can be addressed by the effective use of ICT (the Internet, mobile phone, and other digital technologies).

Poor families in the rural areas have limited or no access at all to information and communication technology. However, these people also needs access to ICT since this technology would help lessen their expenses on their resources like time, labor, energy, and physical resources, thus, would have a greater positive impact on their livelihoods and incomes.[55]

The lives of the rural poor could be alleviated through the application of information and communication technology through the following:

  1. By supplying information to inform the policies, institutions, and processes that affect their livelihood options.
  2. By providing access to information needed in order to pursue their livelihood strategies, including:
  • Financial capital – online and mobile banking will allow rural poor to have greater access to banking facilities and provide a secure place for cash deposits and remittances.
  • Human capital – using ICT will allow intermediaries or knowledge providers impart updated knowledge, techniques and new developments in technology to the locals.
  • Physical capital – service providers will be able to monitor access to local services.
  • Natural capital – access to information about availability and management of natural resources will be enhanced. Also, market access for agricultural products will be einforced. Lastly, ICT could provide early warning systems to reduce the hazard to natural disasters and food shortages.
  • Social capital – connectivity, social networking, and contact for geographically disparate households will be reinforced.

In the advent of ICT it offers new opportunities to support development of the rural livelihoods. It strengthens the production and increased market coordination which are the main processes that can contribute to the future opportunity of the sector and create income for the people that depend on it.[54]

The empirical evidence for these expectations on ICT is mixed. Recent research has found that farmers in remote rural areas of developing countries tend to use ICTs mainly for communicating with familiar partners who, because of the farmers' limited mobility, tend to be collocated in geographical vicinity.[56][57]

In agriculture[edit]

Farmers who have better access to ICT have better lives because of the following:[58][59]

  1. access to price information – farmers will be informed of the accurate current prices and the demands of the products. Hence, they will be able to competitively negotiate in the agricultural economy and their incomes will be improved.
  2. access to agriculture information – according to the review of global and national agricultural information systems done by IICD with support from DFID in 2003, there is a need for coordination and streamlining of existing agriculture information sources, both internationally and within the developing countries. The information provided is usually too scientific that farmers cannot comprehend. Therefore, it is vital that the local information to be relayed to the farmers must be simplified.
  3. access to national and international markets – Increasing the level of access of farmers is very vital in order to simplify contact between the sellers and the buyers, to publicize agricultural exports, facilitate online trading, and increase the awareness of producers on potential market opportunities including consumer and price trends.
  4. increasing production efficiency – due to several environmental threats such as climate change, drought, poor soil, erosion and pests, the livelihood of farmers are unstable. Thus, the flow of information regarding new techniques in production would open up new opportunities to farmers by documenting and sharing their experiences.
  5. creating a conducive policy environment – through the flow of information from the farmers to policy makers, a favorable policy on development and sustainable growth of the agriculture sector will be achieved.

For example, the following ICT4D innovation have been found in Taiwan:[60]

  • A rice germination electronic cooker[61]
  • A robotic tubing-grafting system for fruit-bearing vegetable seedlings[62]
  • An air bubble machine and multi-functional, ultrasonic machine for fruit cleaning[63]

Another example

ICTs offer advantages over traditional forms of agricultural training, using extension agents. However, these forms of communication also pose limitations. For example, face-to-face farmer training often costs $50 per farmer per year, while training via radio may cost as little as $0.50 per farmer per year. However, the capacity of radio to transmit information and collect is more limited than face-to-face interactions.[64]

For an experimental assessment of the role of mobile phones for farmers' access to agricultural information from extension agents and from other farmers see a recent article.[65]

The agricultural sector will profit through ICT4D since we can think of better ways to grow and produce our resources efficiently and effectively. Fusing modern technology with agricultural sector will surely reap better results. We will be able to produce more and better products in a shorter amount of time than before. We will develop a better way of protecting our crops to make it more resistant to extreme weather changes and pests. Thru ICT, new information and updates on the agricultural sector can be easily disseminated. Farmers can easily received this information and they can implement them right away. Not only it saves time and effort, but provides us greater outcome.

The advances in agricultural technology created wonders the agricultural industry. One of the examples would be the use of tractors are able to drive by themselves through the field which eliminates the problem of overlapping and uneven distribution of crops in the field. This saves time and fuel. There are also smartphone apps that can show you information about the status of your crops and irrigation system remotely. In livestock farming, cattle-breeding now includes scientific crossbreeding techniques that produce cattle with greatly improved fertility. Having a local radio/TV show will be a great help in informing the community on updates from the agricultural sector.

These advances may not yet be available all over the world, however, the continued progress in the agricultural industry will be the witness of the revelation of ICT4D globally. ICT4D in agriculture will ensure stability for a larger and more diverse population. Its impact will prepare us for further agricultural development and bridge the gap of the traditional and modern practices.

In April 2015 was launched, a research journalism project funded by Journalism Grants and focused on the use of ICT in the primary sector in Africa.

ICT4D initiatives in agriculture can be generally classified into:

  1. Direct interventions – link smallholder farmers to information and opportunities that can directly improve their income generation, including advisories on market information and agricultural techniques, as well as money transfer services.
  2. Indirect interventions – supportive, long-term programs that can greatly improve established agricultural services, such as using remote sensing technologies to map resources (soil properties, water quality, etc.), establishing agricultural Management Information Systems and Geographic Information Systems, capacity building, research, and training.[66]

ICT4D programs that improve agricultural value chains can also be classified into:

  1. ICT for production systems management – short-term and long-term information services that focus on enhancing farmers’ productivity and reducing loss. These are commonly offered by service providers and can be further categorized into:
    • short-term productivity – services that promptly deliver relevant information directly to farmers for increasing crop yield (e.g. weather forecasts, farming tips),
    • long-term productivity – services that aim to create lasting improvements in farmers’ productivity through education and training (e.g. distance learning, face-to-face training, demonstrations),
    • crisis management – services that focus on preventing short-term losses by sending out early warning alerts to farmers, and
    • risk management – services that require long-term implementation and involve training farmers on sustainable risk-reduction techniques, usually with the assistance of extension agents.
  2. ICT for market access – provides farmers access to pricing information and connects them to crucial parts of the agricultural value chain, such as suppliers and buyers as well as storage and transport services. Market access services include:
    • regularly updated pricing services,
    • virtual trading floors (electronic platforms for exchanging agricultural commodities), and
    • holistic trading services that package these two services with more information on weather and agricultural practices. Holistic trading services may also provide long-term education for farmers, in addition to linking buyers and suppliers with logistics, transportation, processing, storage, and financial services.
  3. ICT for financial inclusion – involves services that address the farmers’ financial needs, including transfers and payments, credit, savings, and insurance. It may entail improving the security of "informal providers" (such as community savings groups) and the convenience and flexibility of formal financial institutions.[67]

In healthcare[edit]

According to WHO, the use of ICTs in healthcare is not only about technology (Dzenowagis,2005), but a means to reach a series of desired outcomes, such as:

  • health workers making better treatment decisions;
  • hospitals providing higher quality and safer care;
  • people making informed choices about their own health;
  • governments becoming more responsive to health needs;
  • national and local information systems supporting the development of effective, efficient, and equitable health systems;
  • policymakers and the public becoming more aware of health risks; and
  • people having better access to the information and knowledge they need for better health.

Key aspects of the WHO e-health strategy

  • Policy
    • Ensure public policies support effective and equitable e-health systems.
    • Facilitate a collaborative approach to e-health development.
    • Monitor internationally accepted goals and targets for e-health.
    • Represent the health perspective in international gatherings on major ICT issues.
    • Strengthen ICT in health education and training in countries, supporting a multilingual and multicultural approach.
  • Equitable access
    • Commitment by WHO, Member States, and partners to reaching health communities and all populations, including vulnerable groups, with e-health appropriate to their needs.
  • Best use
    • Analyze e-health evolution, impact on health; anticipate emerging challenges and opportunities.
    • Provide evidence, information and guidance to support policy, best practice, and management of e-health systems and services.
    • Identify and address needs for e-health norms and standards, innovation, and research.[68]

In the Environment (E-environment)[edit]

The government, civil society and private sector are encouraged to use and promote ICTs as instruments for environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources; to implement green computing programs; and to establish monitoring systems to forecast and monitor the impact of natural and man-made disasters.

ICT can be seen as both a boon and a bane for the environment as their relationship can be multifaceted.

According to a research by OECD, ICTs can be tools for dealing with environmental issues as follows:

  1. Environmental observation: terrestrial (earth, land, soil, water), ocean, climate and atmospheric monitoring and data recording technologies and systems (remote sensing, data collection and storage tools, telemetric systems, meteorological and climate related recording and monitoring system), as well as geographic information systems (GIS).
  2. Environmental analysis: once environmental data have been collected and stored, various computational and processing tools are required to perform the analysis. This may include land,

soil, water and atmospheric quality assessment tools, including technologies for analysis of atmospheric conditions including GHG emissions and pollutants, and the tracking of both water quality and availability. The analysis of data may also include correlating raw observational data with second order environmental measures, such as biodiversity.

  1. Environmental planning: at the international, regional and national level, planning makes use of the information from environmental analysis as part of the decision making process for the purpose of policy formulation and planning. Planning activities may include classification of various environmental conditions for use in agriculture and forestry and other applied environmental sectors, and is often focused on specific issues such as protected areas, biodiversity, industrial pollution or GHG emissions. Planning may also include the anticipation of environmental conditions and emergency scenarios, such as climate change, man-made and natural disasters.
  2. Environmental management and protection: involves everything related to managing and mitigating impacts on the

environment as well as helping adapt to given environmental conditions. This includes resource and energy conservation and management systems, GHG emission management and reduction systems and controls, pollution control and management systems and related methodologies, including mitigating the ill effects of pollutants and man-made environmental hazards.

  1. Impact and mitigating effects of ICT utilization: ICT use can mitigate the environmental impacts directly by increasing process efficiency and as a result of dematerialization, and indirectly by virtue of the secondary and tertiary effects resulting from ICT use on human activities, which in turn reduce the impact of humans on the environment.
  2. Environmental capacity building: Includes efforts to increase public awareness of environmental issues

and priorities, the development of professionals, and integrating environmental content into formal education.

Examples of How ICT has Already Been Used for the Environment:

  1. Climate change mitigation. Climate change mitigation mean reducing the adverse impacts of climate changes on the environment and are crucial to meeting emissions targets. Such activities can be focused on mitigating climate changes directly or at a range of other environmental effects.

Examples are through:

  • Measuring, monitoring and enabling efficient use of resources and operation of infrastructures.
  • De-materialization thru online delivery of content e.g. eBooks, newspapers, music, etc.
  • Transport substitution e.g. video-conferencing.
  • Intelligent transport systems, logistics and freight rationalization.
  • Building and home automation.
  • Energy Infrastructures;
  • Smart Grids: Introduction of ICT and sensing network technologies into the electricity distribution networks enable improved monitoring and control of the energy network as a supply chain that equates to reductions in energy losses, greater network operational efficiency, better quality and reliability of energy supply, better customer control of energy use, better management of solar and wind power generation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


  • ICT-based monitoring, feedback and optimizations tolls can be used to reduce energy intensity and surface area at every stage of the building's life cycle, from design to construction to use and demolition.
  • Energy modelling software can help architects determine how design influences energy use.
  • Builders can use software to compare energy models with actual construction.
  • Occupants can install building management system to automate building functions such as lightning, heating and cooling and ICT can be used to also redesign energy model and measure impacts of change.

· Transport:

  • Software can improve the design of transport networks, allow the running of centralized distribution networks and management systems to facilitate home delivery services.

2. Mitigating Other Environmental Pressures

  • Geographic Information Systems provide opportunities in land and waterway monitoring and managements in Egypt, Africa, Southeast Asia and Himalayan region.
  • Observational data are increasingly available to users around the world through a range of portals and systems like the Earth Observations Portal and Climate Change Prediction Net and Society for Conservation Portal.
  • With geo-spatial environmental information becoming more readily available thru use of common interfaces, information holders are enabled to make geo-specific information available through standard web interface at low-cost.

Examples: The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network, Atlas of Our Changing Environment, Climate Change in Our World,

  • Integrated ecosystem monitoring, sensing and modelling.[69]

In Other Sectors[edit]

In 2003, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva, Switzerland came up with concrete steps on how ICT can support sustainable development in the fields of public administration, business, education and training, health, employment, environment, agriculture and science.[70]

The WSIS Plan of Action identified the following as sectors that can benefit from the applications of ICT4D:

  • E-government

The e-government action plan involves applications aimed at promoting transparency to improve efficiency and strengthen citizen relations; needs-based initiatives and services to achieve a more efficient allocation of resources and public goods; and international cooperation initiatives to enhance transparency, accountability and efficiency at all levels of government.

Writing about ICT's for government use in 1954, W. Howard Gammon can be credited as writing the first e-government research paper. Though not mentioning the word "e-government", his article "The Automatic Handling of Office Paper Work" tackled tactics regarding government processes and information systems or electronic machinery.[71]

  • E-business

Governments, international organizations and the private sector are encouraged to promote the benefits of international trade and e-business; stimulate private sector investment, foster new applications, content development and public/private partnerships; and adapt policies that favor assistance to and growth of SMMEs in the ICT industry to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

A specific sector that has received some attention has been tourism. Roger Harris was perhaps one of the first to showcase the possible benefits. His work focused on a remote location in Malaysia[72][73] and highlighted some of the possibilities of small tourism operators using the internet. Others have shown the possibilities for small tourism operators in using the internet and ICT to improve business and local livelihoods.[74][75]

  • E-health

ICTs can aid in collaborative efforts to create a reliable, timely, high quality and affordable health care and health information systems [76] and to promote continuous medical training, education, and research. WSIS also promotes the use of ICTs to facilitate access to the world’s medical knowledge, improve common information systems, improve and extend health care and health information systems to remote and under served areas, and provide medical and humanitarian assistance during disasters and emergencies.

  • E-employment

The e-employment action plan includes the development of best practices for e-workers and e-employers; raising productivity, growth and well-being by promoting new ways of organizing work and business; promotion of teleworking with focus on job creation and skilled worker retention; and increasing the number of women in ICT through early intervention programs in science and technology.

WSIS recognizes the role of ICT in the systematic dissemination of agricultural information to provide ready access to comprehensive, up-to-date and detailed knowledge and information, particularly in rural areas. It also encourages public-private partnerships to maximize the use of ICTs as an instrument to improve production.

  • E-science

The plan of action for e-science involves affordable and reliable high-speed Internet connection for all universities and research institutions; electronic publishing, differential pricing and open access initiatives; use of peer-to-peer technology for knowledge sharing; long-term systematic and efficient collection, dissemination and preservation of essential scientific digital data; and principles and metadata standards to facilitate cooperation and effective use of collected scientific information and data.

The number of prevalent crimes online and offline, local and international (terrorism and acts to it) has led to the increased development of arsenals (including ICT) to preempt and enforce proper security measures that lead to it and put public security, peace and order a number one priority.

A developed society should have a strong security. The protection of information is a serious responsibility of every individual. With this constantly evolving technology, regulation and risk assessment should always be maintained and updated. As part of the society, we all need to maintain good understanding of our personal responsibility in keeping information secure. We must promote awareness and highlights of the importance of information security.

   Information Security

What is Information security risk? Information risk is the risk of loss, steal or manipulation of confidential information. Information security risk's goal is to protect information. Information which is defined as data endowed with meaning and purpose. Why is Information Security is important? According to the identity Theft Resource Center, 2007 was a year of record data breaches. There was a total of 431 reported incidents and 128,250,494 records were affected. These reports only shows that information security risk does really exist. Since it exist it has to be addressed. If it happens mitigation and control are important. Strong E-security is necessary to have a sustainable development.

Since the first edition of the WSIS Stocktaking Report was issued back in 2005, biannual reporting has been a key tool for monitoring the progress of ICT initiatives and projects worldwide. The 2012 report reflects more than 1 000 recent WSIS-related activities, undertaken between May 2010 and the present day, each emphasizing the efforts deployed by stakeholders involved in the WSIS process.

Mobile technologies[edit]

In recent years, development in mobile computing and communication led to the proliferation of mobile phones, tablet computers, smartphones, and netbooks. Some of these consumer electronic products, like netbooks and entry-level tablet computers are often priced lower as compared to notebooks/laptops and desktop computer since the target market for these products are those living in the emerging markets.[77] This made the Internet and computing more accessible to people, especially in emerging markets and developing countries where most of the world’s poor reside.

Furthermore, these consumer electronic products are equipped with basic mobile communication hardware like, WiFi and 2.5G/3G Internet USB sticks. These allowed users to connect to the Internet via mobile and wireless networks without having to secure a landline or an expensive broadband connection via DSL, cable Internet or fiber optics.

According to International Telecommunication Union, mobile communications and technology has emerged as the primary technology that will bridge in the least developed countries. This trend can be further supported by the rosy sales reports of technology companies selling these electronic devices in emerging markets which includes some of the least developed countries. In fact, some multinational computer manufacturers like Acer and Lenovo are focusing in bringing cheaper netbooks to emerging markets like China, Indonesia and India.[78]

Moreover, data from the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society 2011 report shows that mobile phones and other mobile devices are replacing computers and laptops in accessing the Internet. Countries in Africa have also recorded growth in using mobile phones to access the Internet. In Nigeria, for example, 77% of individuals aged 16 and above use their mobile phones to access the Internet as compared to a mere 13% who use computers to go online.[79] These developments and growth in mobile communication and its penetration in developing countries are expected to bridge the digital divide between least-developed countries and developed countries although there are still challenges in making these services affordable.[80]


The field of mobile learning is still in its infancy, and so it is still difficult for experts to come up with a single definition of the concept.[81] One definition of Mobile Learning or mLearning is provided by MoLeNet: "It is the exploitation of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning".[82]

Advancements in hardware and networking technologies made it possible for mobile devices and applications to be used in the field of education.[83] Newer developments in mobile phone technology makes them more embedded, ubiquitous and networked, with enhanced capabilities for rich social interactions and internet connectivity. Such technologies can have a great impact on learning by providing a rich, collaborative and conversational experience to both teachers and students.[84] Mobile learning is adapted in classes since aside from the fact that it helps in the enhancement of students' learning, it also helps teachers to easily keep track of the students' progress. Communication when needed is possible at any given time. Discipline and responsibility must go though with the contents in mobile learning since whatever is posted is made available to those who are given access.[85]

  • Online Learning (E-Learning)

In order for people to benefit fully from today's era of Information and Technology, one should have the needed skills to understand and utilize it. Therefore, honing the capacity and literacy of people is important. The achievement of global education worldwide, the faster and more efficient delivery of education, the improved learning environment for lifelong learning, the ability for people unable to engage in a formal schooling environment, and improving professional skills are just some of what ICTs contributes to learning.

Some of the visions and goals of ICT for e-learning are as follows:

  1. Develop domestic policies to ensure that ICTs are fully integrated in education and training at all levels, including in curriculum development, teacher training, institutional administration and management, and in support of the concept of lifelong learning.
  2. Develop and promote programmes to eradicate illiteracy using ICTs at national, regional and international levels.
  3. Promote e-literacy skills for all, for example by designing and offering courses for public administration, taking advantage of existing facilities such as libraries, multipurpose community centres, public access points and by establishing local ICT training centres with the cooperation of all stakeholders. Special attention should be paid to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
  4. In the context of national educational policies, and taking into account the need to eradicate adult illiteracy, ensure that young people are equipped with knowledge and skills to use ICTs, including the capacity to analyse and treat information in creative and innovative ways, share their expertise and participate fully in the Information Society.
  5. Governments, in cooperation with other stakeholders, should create programmes for capacity building with an emphasis on creating a critical mass of qualified and skilled ICT professionals and experts.
  6. Develop pilot projects to demonstrate the impact of ICT-based alternative educational delivery systems, notably for achieving Education for All targets, including basic literacy targets.
  7. Work on removing the gender barriers to ICT education and training and promoting equal training opportunities in ICT-related fields for women and girls. Early intervention programmes in science and technology should target young girls with the aim of increasing the number of women in ICT careers. Promote the exchange of best practices on the integration of gender perspectives in ICT education.
  8. Empower local communities, especially those in rural and underserved areas, in ICT use and promote the production of useful and socially meaningful content for the benefit of all.
  9. Launch education and training programmes, where possible using information networks of traditional nomadic and indigenous peoples, which provide opportunities to fully participate in the Information Society.
  10. Design and implement regional and international cooperation activities to enhance the capacity, notably, of leaders and operational staff in developing countries and LDCs, to apply ICTs effectively in the whole range of educational activities. This should include delivery of education outside the educational structure, such as the workplace and at home.
  11. Design specific training programmes in the use of ICTs in order to meet the educational needs of information professionals, such as archivists, librarians, museum professionals, scientists, teachers, journalists, postal workers and other relevant professional groups. Training of information professionals should focus not only on new methods and techniques for the development and provision of information and communication services, but also on relevant management skills to ensure the best use of technologies. Training of teachers should focus on the technical aspects of ICTs, on development of content, and on the potential possibilities and challenges of ICTs.
  12. Develop distance learning, training and other forms of education and training as part of capacity building programmes. Give special attention to developing countries and especially LDCs in different levels of human resources development.
  13. Promote international and regional cooperation in the field of capacity building, including country programmes developed by the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies.
  14. Launch pilot projects to design new forms of ICT-based networking, linking education, training and research institutions between and among developed and developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
  15. Volunteering, if conducted in harmony with national policies and local cultures, can be a valuable asset for raising human capacity to make productive use of ICT tools and build a more inclusive Information Society. Activate volunteer programmes to provide capacity building on ICT for development, particularly in developing countries.
  16. Design programmes to train users to develop self-learning and self-development capacities.[86]

Despite the challenges that it presently faces, both technical and pedagogical, experts still remain positive about the concept of mobile learning. The most commonly expected advantages from adopting mobile technology in education include their potential to be engaging for students, to enable interactive learning, and to support personalization of instruction to meet the needs of different students.[87]


Based on a February 2012 survey, the percentage of online shoppers in Asia Pacific are 80% in Thailand and China, 74% in Japan, 71% in Korea, 68% in Australia, 67% in Malaysia and New Zealand, 64% in Taiwan, 61% in Vietnam, 58% in Hong Kong, 57% in Indonesia and Singapore, 54% in India, and 41% in the Philippines. The most famous websites shopped on were 36% for clothing/accessories, 33% for coupons/vouchers and books/DVDs, and 31% for movie tickets. Mobile shopping has grown to be popular especially for the Asian shoppers of which 59% are from Thailand, 37% are from China, 32% are from Vietnam and India. Their reason for mobile shopping was either it was more convenient or more app-compatible. The top mobile buys were 31% on applications, 24% on music, 17% on coupons/vouchers and clothing/accessories, and 16% on movie tickets.[88]

In China, you can buy everything on the web, may it be a screw, clothing, discounted entertainment tickets, musical instrument, imported food, machines, or even vehicles. According to MasterCard online survey, Chinese consumers(59.4 percent) are highest in Asia Pacific for making purchases via their mobile devices. The survey was conducted across 25 markets between November and December 2013. The report for the Asia-Pacific region and included interviews with 7,010 respondents from 14 markets who were asked questions about their online shopping habits. Other top mobile shopping markets include Thailand (51.2 percent), Korea (47.6 percent), India (47.1 percent) and Indonesia (46.7 percent). However, other countries are catching up: Taiwan (up by 17 percent since 2012), the Philippines (up by 11.4 percent). On the other hand, consumers from New Zealand (15 percent, Japan (22.9 percent) and Australia (24.8 percent) show the lowest intent to purchase using their smartphones.[89]

Telephony and development opportunities[edit]

Mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants growth in developed and developing world between 1997 and 2007

The use of mobile phones as part of ICT4D initiatives has proven to be a success as the rapid distribution of mobile telephony has made it possible for poor people to have easy access to useful and interactive information.[90] For instance, in India, the total number of mobile phone subscriptions reached 851.70 million in June 2011, among which 289.57 million came from rural areas, with a higher percentage of increase than that in urban areas.[91] The unexpected growth of affordability and coverage of mobile telephony services has increased its importance not just as a means of two way communication but that of ease-of-access to information as well.

Mobile phones are capable of much more than the exchange of information between two people through calling or text messaging. Advanced models of mobile phones can take photos, record video, receive local AM/FM stations radio frequencies, share and receive multimedia and even connect to the Internet: almost all the features that come with being connected to the World Wide Web. These features make an even better device to aid in ICT4D projects.

A study in Kenya identified innovation in mobile technologies for development,[92] in particular the success of M-PESA mobile banking. They looked at sectors like m-agriculture and m-health where best practice is still to be achieved and have high demand from Kenyan people.

The main lesson they learned was exemplified by M-PESA where they found the presence of three factors required if mobile technology innovation is to be fostered in developing countries.[92]

  • A creative private sector seizing the initiative and acting upon a specific and wide demand for innovation
  • A process coordinated by a government that is supportive
  • Committed international donors supporting the innovation across all phases.

They found demand in Kenya present for health and agriculture and found case studies of best practice in these fields.[92] They learned that best practice in m-health seems to depend on demand and on the government facilitating innovation. Alternatively, they found m-agriculture leaving more room for entrepreneurship.[92]

According to a study conducted in Tanzania,[93] the use of mobile phones has impacted rural living in ways which include:

  • Entrepreneurship and job search: Mobile phones reduce the cost of running a business and, in some cases, the technology could even enable a user to start one. A good example of this would be the case of the many women in Pakistan who have been able to start small businesses offering beauty and hairdressing services, without having to shell out money for setting up beauty salons. Clients can easily contact them via their mobile numbers to set up an appointment and enjoy their services.
  • Easy access to information: Mobile phones enables users to access valuable information such as prices, arbitrage and market or trade opportunities which could better prepare them for business transactions. Mobile telephony has empowered farmers and fishers to realize their potential as business people as they directly engage in bargaining processes with their customers. Buyers can use their mobile phones to find out where the best quality and well-priced products are in the market.
  • Market inefficiencies: The use of mobile phones can correct market inefficiencies, therefore regaining the balance in the supply market. The information and services that could be available through mobile phones would prevent exploitation by middlemen or traders, provide employment opportunities (particularly for rural women), reduce information gaps, save cost and time, and strengthen access of service providers to rural people. Community-relevant information regarding education, emergency, situations, markets, weather, etc. could be shared to empower women economically.
  • Transport substitution: The improvement in the information flows between the buyers and sellers make for a more effective bartering of information without traveling. This is particularly significant in rural areas where traders need to travel to urban areas simply to check for demand and negotiate prices. Mobile phones eliminate the need for middlemen and journeys as traders could ensure that demand for their products exists before leaving their rural homes.
  • Disaster relief: In cases of severe drought, floods, wars or weak economies, mobile phones can be used to keep in touch with one's home community. Mobile operators have proven to be incredibly helpful in disaster relief efforts by providing emergency-related communications infrastructure.
  • Education and health: Mobile services are being used to spread locally generated and locally relevant educational and health information.
  • Social capital and social cohesion: Mobile services enable participants to act together more efficiently to pursue shared objectives by promoting cooperation among social networks.

In contrast, evidence from Ethiopia suggests that farmers may feel reluctant to call individuals whom they have never met personally, which limits the usability of mobile phones in regions with limited transportation options.[65]



Zidisha is an online peer-to-peer lending platform that allows individuals in developing countries to raise microfinance loans from individuals worldwide. Unlike earlier micro-financing websites such as, Zidisha does not work through local intermediary organizations. Instead, the individual borrowers themselves use the Zidisha website to create Facebook-style profiles and negotiate loans with individuals in the US and Europe. The Zidisha website records each borrower's repayment performance and lender feedback rating, which become the basis of online reputations that are displayed in lieu of credit scores to prospective lenders. Zidisha lenders and borrowers dialogue with each other directly in the loan profile pages and Zidisha forum.[94]


Kiva Microfunds, commonly known by its domain name, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to low-income/underserved entrepreneurs and students in 82 countries. Kiva's mission is "to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty

Since 2005, Kiva has crowd-funded more than 1 million loans, totaling more than a half a billion dollars, at a repayment rate of 99 percent. As of November 2013, Kiva was raising about $1 million every three days. The Kiva platform has attracted a community of more than 1 million lenders from around the world.

Kiva operates two models: and The former model relies on a network of field partners to administer the loans on the ground. These field partners can be microfinance institutions, social businesses, schools or non-profit organizations. facilitates loans at 0% directly to entrepreneurs via mobile payments and PayPal. In both and, Kiva includes personal stories of each person who needs a loan because they want their lenders to connect with their entrepreneurs on a human level.

Kiva itself does not collect any interest on the loans it facilitates and Kiva lenders do not make interest on loans. Kiva is purely supported by grants, loans, and donations from its users, corporations, and national institutions. Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


Esoko[95] is an ICT4D initiative which uses mobile phones to give farmers and their businesses the opportunity to share and receive information quickly, affordably and efficiently. Founded in Accra, Ghana by a young and energetic team, the service provides information on prices, trades, transports, contacts, projects and real-time updates on stock, harvests, etc. Esoko believes that being better-informed is a key factor in how markets operate so they try to both push data out to the fields as well as pull data in from the field.

Esoko features a hosted application that is maintained and organized by their team. This means that farmers need not acquire special software or hardware to gain access to information. They simply need to log on to the Internet or request the information by SMS from any phone in any country. Over time, as the user develops a set of networks and contacts on the platform, it enables them to choose the applications that could help them the most; they receive these through simple SMS alerts.

Support and training to anyone who wants to better comprehend a sustainable and successful market information systems are available.


Milaap is "an online microlending platform which brings in foreign capital from international lenders and allows the working poor of the country access to these funds. The loans that are procured are being used to fund various key areas such as vocational training and skill development, healthcare, sanitation, water, sustainable farming, energy and enterprise development."[96] It mainly caters to India's rural poor and allows lenders from and outside of India.[97]

Milaap also makes lending easy by enabling lenders to complete the process through the social networking site Facebook. Specifically, this can be done using the Facebook application FundRazr.[98]

Scientific Animations Without Borders[edit]

Scientific Animations Without Borders is a program based at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, focused on ICT4D.[clarification needed][99]


Graph of ICT penetration per 100 inhabitants by International Telecommunication Union

ICT is central to today's most modern economies. Many international development agencies recognize the importance of ICT4D – for example, the World Bank's GICT section has a dedicated team of approximately 200 staff members working on ICT issues. A global network hub is also promoting innovation and advancement in ICT4D. Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) is the world's first multi-stakeholder network, bringing together public sector, private sector and civil society organizations with the goal of sharing knowledge and building partnerships in ICT4D.

Developing countries far lag developed nations in computer use and internet access/usage. For example, on average only 1 in 130 people in Africa has a computer[100] while in North America and Europe 1 in every 2 people have access to the Internet.[101] 90% of students in Africa have never touched a computer.[102]

However, local networks can provide significant access to software and information even without utilizing an internet connection, for example through use of Wikipedia for Schools or the eGranary Digital Library.

The World Bank runs the Information for Development Program (infoDev), whose Rural ICT Toolkit analyses the costs and possible profits involved in such a venture and shows that there is more potential in developing areas than many might assume.[103] The potential for profit arises from two sources- resource sharing across large numbers of users (specifically, the publication talks about line sharing, but the principle is the same for, e.g., telecentres at which computing/Internet are shared) and remittances (specifically the publication talks about carriers making money from incoming calls, i.e., from urban to rural areas).

A good example of the impact of ICTs is that of farmers getting better market price information and thus boosting their income.[104][105] The Community e-Center in the Philippines developed a website to promote its local products worldwide.[106] Another example is the use of mobile telecommunications and radio broadcasting to fight political corruption in Burundi.[107] This is a short video that discusses the impact of ICT4D in our society:


In recent years there has been a major thrust in the effort to fight longstanding gender discrimination through ICT and to empower women. In May 29 at the "International Girls in ICT Day 2012" held in Geneva, Switzerland, the ITU's Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun Touré said that "Technology needs girls for all sorts of reasons – but perhaps the most important one is that women drive social and economic growth.[108] A study made by ITU shows that narrowing the gap between men and women in the workplace increases economic growth, while fighting to maintain the gap costs billions of dollars a year. Plus, a more diverse gender pool in the workplace makes for a more robust and healthy business environment.[109] As of today, it is a fact that --on average-- women have less access to ICT than men, that they use ICT less intensively and that they are vastly outnumbered in high-level ICT positions worldwide. Few of the ICT4D initiatives in any field involve women. According to WomenWatch, the United Nations’ Internet gateway for advancement and empowerment of women, women in ICTs are rare and few. ICTs benefits across all countries should be available to women and men on a fair and equal basis. This infographic by the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) shows the gender gap in ICT profession.[110]

There is disagreement for reasons of this gap. On the one hand, one often cited argument are that women are somehow technophobic and that they perceive ICT to be a male-dominated terrain, making it less appealing to approach them, and as a career choice (see for example at Insight's study or[111] Changes are currently underway in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Russia to change the perspective of girls at the primary educational level regarding the feasibility of ICT as a long-term and fruitful career.[112] On the other hand, a carefully controlled study[113] has shown that women actually embrace digital technology even more than men, disproving the stereotype of "technophobic women". The reason for the negative correlation of ICT with women is confounded by a spurious correlation. The confounding variables are income, education and employment. In other words, the reason why fewer women access and use ICT is a direct result of their unfavorable conditions with respect to employment, education and income. When controlling for these variables, women turn out to be more active users of digital tools than men. This turns the alleged digital gender divide into an opportunity: given that digital ICT have the potential to provide access to employment, education, income, as well as health services, participation, protection, and safety, among others (ICT4D), the natural affinity of women with these new communication tools provide women with a tangible bootstrapping opportunity to tackle social discrimination. This shows that if woman are provided with modern information and communication technologies, these digital tools represent an opportunity for women to fight longstanding inequalities in the workplace and at home.

Examples of women's empowerment through ICT include:[114]

  • Training in the use and design of computer applications, such as e-mail, word-processing and design applications, builds marketable skills
  • Marketable skills create alternative possibilities for income generation and the possibility of upward mobility
  • An independent income is the basis for individual autonomy, increased agency and control and, frequently, increased self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Increased agency and self-confidence allow women to travel more and develop a wider network of contacts. Such travel and networking expose them to the availability of more economic opportunities
  • ICTs open new avenues for education, communication and information sharing
  • ICTs can be a valuable tool for the organization and mobilization of women’s advocacy and interest groups
  • Education and information increase knowledge about the world and the political, economic, social and cultural factors that shape women’s lives.

ITU, in cooperation with Sookmyung Women's University of Korea and the Asia Pacific Information Network Center, recently funded an ICT pilot program in the Philippines and Bhutan that specifically targets rural women. Its results show that women tend to adapt much quicker to the use of ICT once exposed to it, and participants, though initially averse to the idea of using ICT for information gathering and marketing, found the application of ICT in their local setting beneficial.[115]

Artificial Intelligence[edit]

Insightful applications of machine learning, reasoning, planning, and perception have the potential to bring great value to disadvantaged populations in a wide array of areas, including healthcare, education, transportation, agriculture, and commerce. As an example, learning and reasoning can extend medical care to remote regions through automated diagnosis and effective triaging of limited medical expertise and transportation resources. Machine intelligence may one day assist with detecting, monitoring, and responding to natural, epidemiological, or political disruptions. Methods developed within the artificial intelligence community may even help to unearth causal influences within large-scale programs, allowing a better understanding on how to design more effective health and education systems. Ideas and tools created at the intersection of artificial intelligence and electronic commerce may provide new directions for enhancing and extending novel economic concepts, such as micro-finance and micro-work.

Machine learning holds particular promise for helping populations in developing regions. Unprecedented quantities of data are being generated in the developing world on human health, commerce, communications, and migration. Automated learning methods developed within the AI community can help to tease out insights from this data on the nature and dynamics of social relationships, financial connections and transactions, patterns of human mobility, the dissemination of disease, and such urgent challenges as the needs of populations in the face of crises. Models and systems that leverage such data might one day guide public policy, shape the construction of responses to crises, and help to formulate effective long-term interventions.

Machine intelligence has been pursued before in projects within the broader information and communication technologies for development community. These and other ICT4D efforts have already led to valuable ideas, insights, and systems. AI-D[116] stimulates a larger focus on opportunities to harness machine learning, reasoning, and perception to enhance the quality of life within disadvantaged populations.

To Indigenous People[edit]

According to UNESCO, "Generally, indigenous people have low computer ownership, low computer literacy, low connectivity to the Internet and low access to other digital technologies such as cameras, film-making equipment, editing equipment, etc. Exacerbating factors are the remoteness of many indigenous communities – often located in regions where connectivity is difficult – and poor levels of literacy, particularly in English, the main computer language…There is a lack of trained Indigenous ICT technicians to provide maintenance locally."[117]

ICTs represent a particular challenge to Indigenous concepts of knowledge and intellectual property, the internet has provided the medium for the intercultural dialogue of Indigenous people, it has been an effective distributor of information for both Indigenous nations and non-natives alike. Thus, UNESCO created a project that aims to create cultural diversity.

The goals of the UNESCO ICT4D Project for the Indigenous People are for the preservation of cultural resources, to be able to contribute to the recovering of their cultural self-worth and dignity, and to enable the management of indigenous cultural resources and the training of stakeholders to acquire greater mastery of ICT.[118]


Heeks’ argues that more traditional ICT4D work was driven by money from a relatively small number of international development agencies. Modern ICT4D projects tend to be funded by a much more eclectic range of sources:

  • Private sector. Private firms are increasingly investing in ICT4D for reasons which appear to lie at the rather murky interface between CSR (corporate social responsibility) and BOP (seeing the poor as bottom of the pyramid consumers).[119]
  • Southern governments. Previously – and still somewhat – reliant on donor funding in this area, some governments in the South are starting to invest their own funds in ICT4D, drawn by the push of community demand and the pull of perceived benefits.[119]
  • New donors. The 21st century is seeing a new wave of Southern aid donors emerging. Newly industrialized and transitional nations such as China, India and South Korea are now active in development aid because of their own economies and expertise and they have been particularly keen on funding ICT4D; arguably more so than some Northern donors.[120] Korea, for example, had already spent more than US$120m on ICT4D aid (over 10% of its total aid budget).[121]
  • Revived old donors. Funding for ICT4D from Northern and international (i.e. Northern-dominated) donors has followed a cycle. It ramped up massively from the late 1990s; fell away after the 2005 Tunis World Summit on the Information Society; and showed signs of reviving from 2008 with, for example, the UK's Department for International Development placing ICTs back onto its agenda and the World Bank doubling its funding for African ICT initiatives.[119]

One of the main challenges is to widen the influence of the respective policies from those carried out by just the telecommunications authority to the entire public sector (be this on the international-, national-, or local level). While most of the national digital agendas are led by national telecommunications authorities (such as ITU or the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and NTIA), the case of Chile shows that the funds managed by the telecom authority represent less than 5% of the total funds spent by the overall government on ICT-related policies and projects (spread out over 22 government departments), such as those carried out by the national health department, the education ministry or the finance department.[122] The funds available for ICT4D throughout the public sector are a large multiple of those spent by technology and infrastructure authorities alone.

There are a number of trusts and grant funders who look favourably on applications for ICT within a project application such as:

  • Awards For All
  • The City Bridge Trust
  • BT Community Connections
  • Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
  • The Lloyds TSB Foundation for England & Wales
  • Abbey National Charitable Trust Ltd
  • The Tudor Trust
  • The Baring Foundation
  • The Allen Lane Foundation
  • The Big Lottery Fund
  • The Garfield Weston Foundation
  • City Parochial Foundation
  • The LankellyChase Foundation
  • JPaul Getty Jr Charitable Trust
  • Nominet Trust
  • Useful Links[123]

Countries and international organizations usually do not know which agency manages which kinds of ICT funds and do not often make an effort to track these resources. Since ICT for development is about more than providing mere access to technologies, the logical conclusion should be to coordinate the funds and projects implemented by telecommunications and technologies authorities with those managed by the health, education, finance and defense authorities. The first task in coordinating usually consists of taking inventory of the funds available to the entire public sector. This is generally not done and not even the actors and decision makers have a coherent picture about what is being done. Double efforts/lack of synergies are the common result.[122]

The Korean Trust Fund on ICT4D[edit]

In 2008, the Republic of Korea established the Korean Trust Fund on ICT4D. The US$15 million trust fund has supported World Bank projects that demonstrate cutting edge approaches to development problems, with a focus on information and communications technology. The Korean Trust Fund is integral to the World Bank work, and helps the World Bank remain a force for transformative development outcomes worldwide.

The Korean Trust Fund on ICT4D is administered jointly by the ICT Sector Unit and infoDev. The Trust Fund supports activities that serve as input in the development of lending operations in three key domains of ICT for Development:

  • e-Transformation Across Sectors: Using ICT - with a focus on mobile applications - to transform the efficiency and/or accountability of service delivery in various sectors and to track results (with an emphasis on food security, social services, and IT industry development);
  • Green IT: Implementing "Green IT" solutions that either (i) improve energy efficiency of electricity networks and/or of urban infrastructure including transport networks, or (ii) improve climate resilience of agriculture and water resource management systems;
  • Broadband Connectivity Infrastructure: Increasing access to affordable broadband infrastructure services through policy and regulatory interventions, and where needed, through catalytic public-private partnership investment, with a focus on mobile broadband.[124]

EU funding[edit]

The European Commission is investing in research and development projects to encourage the increased use of information and communication technologies for sustainable growth. The European Commission recognizes that ICTs could play a greater role in supporting sustainable growth. Significant EU funds have, therefore, been dedicated to driving research and development in this area. The main funding instruments are the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).[125]

The total budget for FP7 is €51 bn. and split along thematic priorities. The EU has earmarked over €9.1 billion for funding ICT over the duration of FP7 and part of this for Environmental Management and Energy Efficiency in particular. The CIP on the other hand runs from 2007 to 2013 in parallel to FP7. It has an overall budget of €3621 million.

Swedish program[edit]

The Sweding Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) is offering catalytic funding to innovative projects focused on ICT4D.

Following are the thematic areas and their crosscutting issues under this grant opportunity:

Thematic areas:

  • democracy: e-government, e-governance and ICT for empowerment
  • education: education management, e-learning and digital literacy
  • health: healthcare management, e-health and public health

Crosscutting ICT issues:

  • low cost and high quality technology free and open source software (FOSS)
  • mobile technology for development (M4D)

Crosscutting development issues:

  • youth empowerment
  • cultural creativity
  • capacity development

Spider will provide support to projects implemented in any one of the twelve priority countries for Swedish development cooperation: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.[126]

World Bank[edit]

In terms of ICT connectivity, the World Bank Group has promoted ICT access in developing countries through (1) advising on sector and institutional reforms to encourage competition and private sector participation; and (2) innovative financing mechanisms such as incubators, and public-private partnerships (PPPs) for extending rural access. Low-income countries which have implemented deep sector reforms supported by the Bank Group generated some US$16 billion in investment between 1997 and 2006. Some US$20 million in output-based aid in Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Uganda provided access to 3,356 remote localities, serving over 7.8 million people. In addition, IFC, the private arm of the Bank Group, has also been financing US$1.5 billion and mobilizing another US$330 million for 84 ICT projects to date in 32 low-income countries (mainly for the extension of mobile and data networks).[127]

Myths of ICT4D[edit]

According to Kentaro Toyama, co-founder and assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, there are a number of myths that surround the field of ICT4D. He argues that these myths can confuse our thinking about the proper role for technology in addressing development problems.[128]

Here are the ten myths of ICT4D that Toyama identified:

  • Myth 1: Technology X will save the world - Technology X used to refer to radio, landline, PC, or more specifically television. Now, the burden of solving all social and political problems is being put on mobile phones. Toyama stated that there are many poor communities that only have a few phones and there are still some that do not have phones. He mentions that ownership of mobile phones does not equate to its sophisticated usage. Sophisticated usage also does not equate to increase in welfare.
  • Myth 2: Poor people have no alternatives - Technology has often been thought to be the only way to access information. The truth is, free and non-technological alternatives to get information and certain services exist.
  • Myth 3: "Needs" are more pressing than desires - Toyama stated that ""Needs" are relative." The poor would rather spend majority of their salary or income on items such as ringtones, music, movies, weddings or funerals, and customized photos that Westerners (i.e. Bill Gates, as mentioned in Toyama's presentation) would consider as "luxurious" than "basic" things such as education and healthcare.
  • Myth 4: "Needs" translate to business models - People don't always pay for "needs" (e.g. education for children, water purifiers, health insurance). Poor populations are harder to reach and are a greater risk. They also have less disposable income. This is the reason why "poverty premium" exists.
  • Myth 5: If you build it, they will come - People don't always do what is "best" for them. Let's take smoking, for example. Many people would refuse to stop smoking even if they know and understand the dangers brought about by smoking. Another example would be cataract operations in India. There is an eye hospital that offers high quality operations and it is free of charge. However, 10% of the people that are offered with this particular service will still refuse to have the operation.[128]
  • Myth 6: ICT undoes "rich getting richer." - Technology tends to amplify the inequalities in literacy rather than reduce them.[128] "Everyone knows that the hard part is actually doing the work necessary to accomplish a goal, not providing the technology."[129]
  • Myth 7: Technology permits socio-economic leapfrogging - There are things that do leapfrog. Things such as upper class capacity and new technology over old technology (e.g. mobile phones over landline phones). However, human capacity is developing slowly and the role of technology in education is poorly understood. Education and human capacity are said to be the critical things.
  • Myth 8: Hardware and software are a one-time cost - Over 5 years, the amortization of the annual costs of a "$100 PC" per child that covers breakage, connectivity, power, maintenance, and training would be $250 per child per year.[130]
  • Myth 9: Automated is cheaper and better - Where labor is cheap and populations are illiterate, automated systems are not necessarily preferable.[128] Here are some issues that go with full automation: barriers in literacy, cost, and unfamiliarity; user preferences for voice and human-mediated systems; and the question of whether the cost of human system is actually less than the cost of technology.
  • Myth 10: Information is the bottleneck - "Information is just one of many deficiencies in developing world." (Toyama, 2010)[130] Kentaro Toyama mentioned some of the other deficiencies: human capacity; infrastructure; institutional capcity; economics. He said that information is not equal to education and communication is not equal to commerce.

Toyama also mentioned the reasons why these myths persist.

  • Desire for an easy solution[131]
  • Desire for a one-time, catalytic investment
  • Desire to see ingenuity triumph
  • Seductive power of technology in the developed world
  • Not enough insight into actual poor communities
  • Misleading explanations of successful ICT4D projects – a variation of AI’s "frame problem"

In his presentation, Toyama concluded that technology is just one part of the solution. Part of his conclusion mentions that "Successful ICT4D interventions work as a part of well-intentioned, competent organizations." Toyama ended his presentation with the Key Lesson saying, "Technology is a magnifier of human will, competence, and institutions."[130]

The 9 Myths of ICT in Education

Kentaro Tayoma argued that the under-performing schools should try to adjust the particular attention to other elements such as teaching improvement skills and administration. He also recommended to use cost-effective depart from traditional means of technology when venturing to other educational resources. Myths below are the most heard praise about technology in schools.

  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 1 - 21st-century skills require 21st-century technologies.[132] This means that not every knowledge or skill that was developed during the 21st-century needs to sophisticated and updated technologies. Example of such is critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. In reality, the skills haven’t changed; only the proportion of people requiring them.[132] Over the years, people have changed the way they work as well the gadgets or tools to be used. Example of such is that over a decade ago, typing is a required subject while as of today, everybody knows how to type even without a course for it. As Tayoma pointed out, people nowadays need to learn how to differentiate from acquiring knowledge of critical thinking to make a person more inventive and creative from wanting or demanding to learn up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 2 - Technology X allows interactive, adaptive, constructivist, student-centered learning.[132] Tayoma explained that motivation is important for students to actually sustain the learning. It is given that a good teacher should be interactive, flexible to any environments and situation, artistic, student-centered but if this are the only basis of good education then technology will no longer be needed.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 3 - It’s still easier for teachers to arouse interest with technology X than with textbooks.[132] In reality, this is true but the technology changes very quickly and should not be the basis how good a teacher is. Technology helps a teacher to make an impact or influence the quality of education but technology does not cure or fix a bad teacher.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 4 - Teachers are expensive. It’s exactly because teachers are absent or poorly trained that low-cost technology is a good alternative.[132] In reality, low-cost technology is not not low-cost at all for low-income schools. On top of that, low-cost technology will also deprecate and change over time so it will be obsolete. However, if invested to proper training and development, teachers can fix the poorly managed education system.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 5: Textbooks are expensive. For the price of a couple of textbooks, you might as well get a low-cost PC.[132] Obviously a printed book is cheaper than getting a low-cost PC. Additionally, low-cost PC will need electricity to run which will not be "low-cost" at all. Since textbooks can be used as one-is-to-one for students, this is not the case for low-cost PC if we are talking about low-budget schools.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 6: We have been trying to improve education for many years without results. Thus, it’s time for something new: Technology X![132] Tayoma argued that other alternatives to fix the bad educational system, it is time to rebuild the system from scratch as the Qatar did with its education ministry. He pointed out that there are no shortcuts to improve the teachers and administration as starting it from scratch will take multiple years to rebuild.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 7: Study Z shows that technology is helpful.[132] The author agreed that technology is helpful and favorable in the improvement of education. A study cannot be a basis that technology alone (itself) is the main reason for development of education system. The study also has other elements that make the technology look good or have a positive results in studies. He pointed that technology is the not the answer for poor performance of an education system as the this will also cost a lot since other than hardware, there are other additional cost to consider such as maintenance, training and curriculum.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 8: Computer games, simulations, and other state-of-the-art technologies are really changing things.[132] In reality, there is no technology that has achieved or passed tests such as lab trials, analysis and more that make a big difference in the education system such with artificial intelligence that can motivate students to study.
  • Pro-Technology Rhetoric 9: Technology is trans-formative, revolutionary, and otherwise stupendous! Therefore, it must be good for education.[132] Tayoma stated that education and learning is like parenting, it cannot be replaced by any kind of technology. A good and guided education and parenting can make righteous and honorable members of society as well as developed students who are Einstein alike.

To summarize the myths in education above regarding technology, there is no alternative or easiest way to achieve a good education system. He has written more articles about this the connection of technology and education.


Schoolkids with laptops in Cambodia.


ICT4D initiatives and projects may be designed and implemented by international institutions, governments (e.g., e-Mexico initiative), consultants (e.g., Non-Profit Computing, Inc.[131]), private companies (e.g., Intel's Classmate), non-governmental organizations (e.g., International Institute for Communication and Development), or virtual organizations (e.g., One Laptop per Child). The projects can typically be evaluation research, matching a tool and a problem, exploratory research, or constructive research.[8]

A 2010 research report from the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre[133] found "Very few ICT4D activities have proved sustainable... Recent research has stressed the need to shift from a technology-led approach, where the emphasis is on technical innovation towards an approach that emphasises innovative use of already established technology (mobiles, radio, television)."[134] However, of 27 applications of ICTs for development, E-government, E-learnings and E-health were found to be possible of great success, as well as the strengthening of social networks and boosting of security (particularly of women).

The United Nations Development Center in Bangkok issued a list of over 100 case studies addressing one or more of the following issues:[135]

  • Access and infrastructure
  • Capacity building and education
  • e-governance and e-government
  • Environment and agriculture
  • Free and open source software
  • Gender and ICT
  • Health and medicine
  • Policy and social analyses
  • Technical innovation for development

ICT- and WSIS-related projects are available in the public database of WSIS stocktaking


Projects which deploy technologies in underdeveloped areas face well-known problems concerning crime, problems of adjustment to the social context, and also possibly infrastructural problems. While a link between poverty reduction and ICT exists, the connection is yet to be fully understood. In fact, the relationship between infrastructure investment and increased output commonly encounter problems with reverse causality and false correlations.

The expansion of ICT can have direct negative outcomes. Expenditure on ICT has been known to cause intra-household conflict, foster male dominance over resources and divert household resources away from food and other essentials. Human right concerns such as child labor have also been raised over the use of conflict materials in the production of ICT devices.[136]

In many impoverished regions of the world, legislative and political measures are required to facilitate or enable application of ICTs, especially with respect to monopolistic communications structures and censorship laws.

The literacy issue is one of the key factors why projects fail in rural areas; as education in literacy sets the foundation for digital and information literacy, proper education and training are needed to make the user at least understand how to manipulate the applications to get the information they need. Constant follow-up with the community is needed to monitor if the project has been successfully implemented and is being used meaningfully.

In the case of India, technological advancement has been more of leapfrogging in nature: the affordability of mobile phones allowed more people to acquire mobile phones before learning to use personal computers and desktops. This unfamiliarity with computers could be seen as problematic as it creates digital divide if technological devices provided are computers; a disconnect between computing technology and people causes difficulty for some of the ICT4D project initiatives to take effect. For instance, in rural parts of India, the Ministry of Education rejected OLPC initiative[137] due to lack of facilities and trained professionals for computer teaching and maintenance. While closing the gap of digital divide through training teachers so that technology may be used for teaching process is challenging, there is yet another problem of failing to recognize technology as a tool for learning process. Studying how learners and/or students interact with technology is vital for developing and designing technologies for them.

Projects in marginalised rural areas face the most significant hurdles – but since people in marginalised rural areas are at the very bottom of the pyramid, development efforts should make the most difference in this sector. ICTs have the potential to multiply development effects[138] and are thus also meaningful in the rural arena.[139]

However, introducing ICTs in these areas is also most costly, as the following barriers exist:[140]

  • Lack of infrastructure: no electrical power, no running water, bad roads, etc.
  • Lack of health services: diseases like HIV, TB, malaria are more common.
  • Lack of employment: there are practically no jobs in marginalised rural areas.
  • Hunger: hungry users have problems concentrating.
  • Illiteracy: Text user interfaces do not work very well, innovative Human Computer Interfaces (see Human Computer Interaction) are required.
  • Lack of means to maintain the project: some projects may be left to deteriorate in time because maintenance is sporadic and if a component breaks it is costly to obtain skilled people and parts to make a repair..
  • Lack of means to maintain the project due to short-terms grants
  • Lack of support from the local government
  • Social contexts: the potential users living in rural marginalised areas often cannot easily see the point of ICTs because of social context and also because of the impediments of hunger, disease and illiteracy.
  • Possibility of encouraging brain-drain.[141]
  • Corruption is one of the factors that hampers the implementation of ICT projects in rural areas.
  • Training and seminars must be conducted according to a suitable time for farmers, to make sure that their daily routine is not affected.
  • Many applications are not user friendly.
  • Projects are sometimes not being needs-driven and not relevant to local context.[141]

Another significant problem can be the selection of software installed on technology[142] – instructors trained in one set of software (for example Ubuntu[143]) can be expected to have difficulty in navigating computers donated with different software (for example Windows XP).

A pressing problem is also the misuse of electronic waste in dangerous ways. Burning technology to obtain the metals inside will release toxic fumes into the air.[144] Plastics, chips and circuit boards are destroyed to gather their raw and sellable materials. These practices cost the health of communities, affecting the respiratory and immune system. Presence of harmful chemicals are stuck on soils like lead, mercury and cadmium.[145] Sadly electronic wastes are profound in developing countries where they are dumped due to large recycling costs. Developing countries are forced to labor on these waste to get money. (Certification of recyclers to e-stewards or R2 Solutions standards is intended to preclude environmental pollution.)

Finally, while the training, support, hardware and software may all be donated, it is rare for another vital component of technology, Internet access, to be made available at a discounted rate. "In about half the countries in Africa, one year of [dial-up] Internet supply will cost more than the average annual income."[146][147]

TechChange, The Social Impact Lab and the World Bank have highlighted many of the above issues and complexities around implementing ICT4D projects through an animation short.[148]

Lessons learned[edit]

Crucial in making any ICT4D effort successful is effective partnership between four key stakeholders:

  • Public sector (governments from developed nations, developing nations, international bodies and local governments)
  • Private sector (companies belonging to members of the target audience, multinational organizations wishing to expand their markets to the 4 billion people under US$2/day, pro-poor or social companies)
  • Informal sector (NGOs, advocacy groups, think tanks)
  • Representation from the target audience
International Institute for Communication and Development video

InfoDev has published six lessons from an analysis of 17 of their pilot programmes (see below). These lessons are backed by a variety of examples as well as a list of recommendations:[149]

  • Lesson 1: Involve target groups in project design and monitoring.
  • Lesson 2: When choosing the technology for a poverty intervention project, pay particular attention to infrastructure requirements, local availability, training requirements, and technical challenges. Simpler technology often produces better results.
  • Lesson 3: Existing technologies—particularly the telephone, radio, and television—can often convey information less expensively, in local languages, and to larger numbers of people than can newer technologies. In some cases, the former can enhance the capacity of the latter.
  • Lesson 4: ICT projects that reach out to rural areas might contribute more to the MDGs than projects based in urban areas.
  • Lesson 5: Financial sustainability is a challenge for ICT-for-development initiatives.
  • Lesson 6: Projects that focus on ICT training should include a job placement component.

Sustainability and scalability[edit]

A Geekcorps volunteer setting up a Wi-Fi antenna in Mali

Currently, the main two perspectives coming out of this sector are to emphasize the need for external aid to build infrastructure so that projects can reach viability, and the need to develop and build on local talent.

Establishing a clear and effective initial design serves as a foundation of any development projects. Starting on existing community assets and knowledge promotes collaboration and cooperation among participants resulting to collective decision-making. Thus, involvement of potential participants in the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation is valuable. Adding a substantial effect on a project's long-term sustainability is the implementation. The success of project implementation is reflected in a comprehensive evaluation of the expected net benefits. The interdependence between these project components based on a holistic consideration of livelihood systems, needs and opportunities, provides significant contribution to the overall impact of the project on the community.[150]

A growing perspective in the field is also the need to build projects that are sustainable and scalable, rather than focusing on those which must be propped up by huge amounts of external funding and cannot survive for long without it. Sustaining the project's scalability is a huge challenge of ICT for development; how the target user will continue using the platform. ICT4D is not a one-shot implementation but rather it is a complex process to be undertaken continuously, and the progress of each project evolves around the local education for, and adaptability of, the technology

Also, a number of developing countries have proven their skills in IT (information technology). Using these skills to build on ICT4D projects will tap local potential and a key indigenous partner in the growth of this sector will be gained. The balance of trade for these nations due to imports in both hardware and software might be an additional consideration.

Different countries have variety on these strengths some are better in hardware production, both high end and low end. There are some who are good in production of programs and other content. ICT is a US$3 trillion industry (2010)[151] and is growing every year. Communication, media and IT present opportunities for further growth and expansion.

Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

The Sustainable Development Goals is an opportunity for the world to work together to reach goals such as ending poverty, protecting the earth and ensuring prosperity for the planet. Technology if used effectively will accelerate the SDG’s task of reaching its goals.

In order for SGDs to achieve their goals, changes are required of each sector. Development sectors like livelihood, agriculture, health, education, water, sanitation and power, infrastructure, disaster relief, government and human rights, environmental protection and crosscutting should achieve their goals of ending poverty by providing sustainable agriculture to ensure food security and improved nutrition for people to have healthy lives. Sustainable management of water, sanitation and modern energy should be achieved as well as the construction of safe and resilient infrastructure for communities. Aws promulgating equal rights should also be achieved. Lastly, protection of the environment should be undertaken.

ICT can address the needs and provide benefits to various organizations and individuals. These organizations include consumers, entrepreneurs or employees, businesses, government agencies and civil society organizations.[152]

Inclusive innovation[edit]

Inclusive innovation defines the characteristic of new goods and services that are created for those who are denied access from the development mainstream—most especially lowest incomes and/or the poverty line. These new technologies are for the lowest ladder in the social hierarchy – which includes: Information and Communication (like mobile phones, mobile services and telecentres); Agriculture (better seed varieties); Healthcare (vaccines); etc. In this, one can diagram the swift rise of interest and attention for inclusive innovation in various sectors and/or fields. Since in the past years, many organizations and agencies like World Bank, IDRC, GIZ, OECD and many more are still launching inclusive actions—which many countries are increasingly using inclusive innovation in various sectors and fields, like China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, and other national governments.

We can chart the rapid rise of interest in inclusive innovation in various spheres. In the past few years, the World Bank, IDRC, GIZ, OECD and other development agencies have all launched inclusive innovation actions. India, Thailand, China, South Africa, Indonesia and other national governments have added inclusive innovation elements into their policies.

Here we can view the two key aspects of how inclusive innovation plays: first, who are affected or included? And second, what way they are included? First, the first part who are affected or included? The first part of key aspect is defined as someone is being affected or included in marginalized or poverty line. How these people are being included in some way, which can be redirected to the second key aspect, what way they are included? The most beneficial way to answer that is to comprehend the different perspectives in the "ladder of inclusive innovation," in a group of steps, which in every succeeding step illustrates a higher idea of inclusivity as related to how innovation works. Below are the detailing of the steps:[153]

Level 1 (intention): when this innovation is inclusive, it has the intention of specific innovation that corresponds to the address of the necessities, wants or problems of the excluded group. However, this does not meant to report in any definite activity, but solely in the abstraction of motivation behind that innovation.

Level 2 (consumption): when this innovation is inclusive, it has to be adopted and to be utilized by the excluded group. However, it requires the innovation to be developed into definite goods or services; in which case, these can be accessed and payable by the excluded group; for that effect the group have the motivation and capabilities to integrate the innovation. All of those levels, they could be viewed as sub-elements for this level in the inclusive innovation ladder; in spite of, all shall be needed for consumption, as consequently they are not part of the hierarchical sub-steps (which will appear in later levels).

Level 3 (impact): when this innovation is inclusive, it has the favourable impact on the livelihoods of the excluded group. That specific favourable impact may be comprehended in different views. It could be more quantitative, where the economic perspectives could be defined in the terms of higher productivity and/or higher welfare/utility (e.g. greater ability to consume). Beyond than that, many perspectives could be defined in the impact of innovation of well-being, livelihood assets, personal capabilities, or other foundational theories of what development is.

Level 4 (process): when this innovation is inclusive, it has the case of excluded group that is involved in the innovation development. It is almost rare for the whole group to be involved, somehow the effect of this could immediately diminish into "members of the excluded group". This level must be de-synthesized as stated by the sub-processes of innovation: invention, design, development, production, and distribution. These could construct a set of sub-steps within, e.g., the speculation of lower value of inclusion downstream elements than the upstream elements. Furthermore, the scope of participation is being identified with the different levels of inclusion. Repeatedly, there could be sub-steps similar to those which are viewed when analysing involvement in the development, with greater sub-steps depicting extensive involvement. Borrowing additional ideas from Arnstein’s [154] in his ladder of participation, the sub-steps can be included as follows: being informed, being consulted, collaborating, being empowered, and controlling.

Level 5 (structure): when this innovation is inclusive, it is produced in enclosed structure that is in itself inclusively done. The justification that can be found here in the inclusive processes that may be for short-term or shallow in what they attain. Extensive inclusion needs the proper fundamental institutions, organizations and relations that constitute the innovation system that are inclusive.[155] However, this might need the selection of serious structural improvement of existing innovation systems, or the establishment of alternative innovation systems.

Level 6 (post-structure): when this innovation is inclusive, it is generated in enclosed by the frame of knowledge and discourse, which is in itself inclusively done. Any post-structuralists would assert the idea that human’s underlying frames of knowledge, as well as the language, are the basis of power to which control the societal outcomes. However, if the framings of main actors are included in the innovation which allow for inclusion of the excluded; by then, the outcome of innovation be truly inclusive.

Impact assessment[edit]

There are many initiatives and projects being done in line with information, communication and technology for development. Government, NGOs, public and private sectors have different projects lined up to promote development in different communities. But these projects, although have the objectives to help people in their everyday life, there are little study on whether the technology applied is effective or not. Impact assessment is one way to determine the effectiveness of one technology.

For ICT4D, impact assessment can be based on these questions:[156]

  • Why? - this can include both the externally stated rationale, and the internal purpose for the organisation(s) driving the impact assessment. In most cases, the external rationale will be one or more of: a) retrospective achievement – post-hoc assessment of what has been achieved from investments to date; b) prospective priorities – pre-hoc assessment of future development project investments; c) accountability – enabling agencies to be held to account for their ICT4D spending.
  • For whom? - typical audiences are a) ICT4D investment decision-makers; b) ICT4D policy decision-makers; c) ICT4D project decision-makers; d) ICT4D project users/beneficiaries; e) other ICT4D stakeholders
  • What? - a mixture of the indicators the key audience will best consume, the indicators it is most feasible to measure, and the indicators the assessment team is most familiar with. This may also include identifying the conceptual framework guiding the impact assessment;
  • How 1? - alongside the specific measurement issues, a key element here will be the extent of participation of project users in measurement (and in more upstream processes such as selection of indicators).
  • When? - the classic impact assessment failure has been to assess ICT4D pilots rather than fully scaled-up projects; and to assess too early in the project's history.
  • How 2? - probably the most important and the most overlooked element in the whole process, with some impact assessments being conducted but having little impact. Includes questions on whether indicators are reported "as is", or communicated via causal models, case sketches, stories, etc.

Heeks and Molla described two different ways in categorizing impact assessment of ICT4D projects. One is based on the attainment of the ICT4D goals and the other is based on how to undertake such assessment.

Here is the classification of the impact of ICT4D based on the attainment of goals:

  1. Total failure: the initiative was never implemented, was implemented but immediately abandoned, or was implemented but achieved none of its goals.
  2. Largely unsuccessful: some goals were attained but most stakeholder groups did not attain their major goals and/or experienced significant undesirable outcomes.
  3. Partial success/partial failure: some major goals for the initiative were attained but some were not and/or there were some significant undesirable outcomes
  4. Largely successful: most stakeholder groups attained their major goals and did not experience significant undesirable outcomes.
  5. Total success: all stakeholder groups attained their major goals and did not experience significant undesirable outcomes.

Another categorization of assessing the impacts of ICT4D projects based on "frameworks" (understanding ICT4D projects and organizing knowledge about them) are: Generic: general frameworks usable in assessment of any development project.

  1. Discipline-specific: assessment drawing from a particular academic discipline.
  2. Issue-specific: assessment focused on a particular development goal or issue.
  3. Application-specific: assessment focused on one particular ICT4D technology.
  4. Method-specific: assessment centred on a particular approach to data-gathering.
  5. Sector-specific: assessment centred on an individual development sector.

Criticisms and challenges[edit]

Satellite Internet access via VSAT is a common form of connectivity in developing countries (Ghana, Ecamic project pictured)[157]

As it has grown in popularity, especially in the international development sector, ICT4D has also come under criticism.

Questions have been raised about whether projects that have been implemented at enormous cost are actually designed to be scalable, or whether these projects make enough of an impact to produce noticeable change.[158][159] For example, in Sri Lanka, journalist Nalaka Gunawardene argued that thousands of pilot projects had been seeded without regard to generalisability, scalability, and sustainability, implying that these projects will always require external funding to continue running and that their impact is limited.[160] This sentiment echoes a 2003 report by the World Bank.[9]

Further criticism of ICT4D concerns the impact of ICTs on traditional cultures and the so-called cultural imperialism which might be spread with ICTs. It is emphasised that local language content and software seem to be good ways to help soften the impact of ICTs in developing areas.[161]

Many fear of the potential of ICT to seriously widen the Digital Divide and the gap between people with access to the information economy and those without such access.[159] This issue was brought to the forefront of the international agenda and was heavily discussed in some major international political meetings such as the G8 meeting in Okinawa, Japan in July 2000.[162] Anriette Esterhuysen, an advocate for ICT4D and human rights in South Africa,[163] pointed out that some ICT4D projects often give more emphasis to how ICT can help its beneficiaries economically rather than helping them create a society where social justice and equal rights prevail. She believes that sustainable development can only be achieved if there are human rights and people can speak freely.[164]

Another point of criticism against ICT4D is that its projects are in the long term seldom environmentally friendly. Beneficiary communities are often given the responsibility to dispose of the toxic electronic scrap when an equipment breaks down beyond repair. Since transporting the equipment to a recycling facility is costly; the equipment is often disposed of improperly, thus contributing to the pollution of the environment.

More often than not, ICT programs are expected to be the solution for all socioeconomic problems. However, disorganized implementation that disregards factors such as cultural realities make ICT for development efforts ineffective.[165]

It is therefore important to pursue regionalized ICT programs first before globalization. There’s a need for ICT4D practitioners to seek out ways in which to enable programs make their impact.[32] Establishing regional and national ICT strategies that commit to action is the first step towards creating effective solutions.[165]

Neoliberalization of education[edit]

Proponents of ICT have always highlighted the benefits of technology when applied in the different sectors of society especially in education. There is a belief that using ICT will make the lives of the people better. According to Flor (n.d.), education has benefited immensely from ICT for it "offered an entire new range of possibilities to enhance teaching-learning situation."[32] In the Philippines, pedagogic as well as social and economic benefits are cited as reasons for the government’s ICT for education policies and programs.[166] The Philippine government believes that an ICT education will prepare the youth to be able to meet the challenges and demands of the economic market once they graduate. In short, the government wants to "produce a critical mass of ICT professionals and ICT-literate manpower."[166]

The need to supply an ICT literate workforce is anchored on the Information Age wherein the global economy’s primary commodity is now information. Labor-intensive production has become knowledge-intensive, thus, the ever growing need for information workers. Corporate businesses who need information workers thrive on ICT. They do not only own the technology, but they also exert power through it.[167] This results in a parasitic and predatory relationship between those who own the technology and their labor and consumer market. ICT, in the context of global capitalism, is therefore being used to advance private corporate interests towards what Schiller (as cited in Waller, 2007) calls a "corporate controlled information society."[167]

This restructuring of the global economy through ICT has implications that affect us immensely, even more so with the inclusion of ICT in education. It reinforces the exploitative nature of capitalism for it allows business interests to enter into and control our educational system.

To exert its economic power in the global economy and "justify the more aggressive drive of the Transnational Corporations in the global order," capitalist-led WB and the World Trade Organization has put forth the theories of the "global village" and the globalization of market.[168] This global village, according to Lelliot et al. (as cited in Zemblyas and Vrasidas, 2005), is where "the educational and political significance and desirability of ICT" is based on. ICT therefore becomes a symbol and an aspect of globalization because globalization builds on and drives from it.[169]

Consequently, ICT as a symbol and aspect of globalization makes it a central component in the neoliberalist agenda in education of privatizing, deregulating and marketizing education and producing a surplus of skilled information workers for transnational corporations.

Neoliberalism dictates that universities and colleges must look for their own funding in order to operate. This leads to increasing private and corporate influence on schools through study and project grants and the state abandonment of the education system. In line with market capitalism, neoliberalism seeks to restructure the public orientation of education by steering it away from state control towards the private sphere. With corporate interests being allowed to gain control of schools, the capitalist-led international development assistance agencies have been actively pushing for ICT in the education system.

Furthermore, neoliberalism seeks to transform education into a commodity that can be bought at a price. This new kind of set-up, Petten explains, "stands in opposition to education as a social right" where everyone has a right to education regardless of economic status.[170] With the introduction of ICT in education, education now comes with a price tag. Thus, the democratic character of education is threatened.

Three key challenges[edit]

In the 2007 Manila Workshop, the three key challenges of ICT4D (also referred to as the three problem trees) were clustered. These are the result of clustering the core problems that are seen in the field of ICT4D. The participants of the workshop grouped the core problems or challenges into lack of rigour problem tree, interdisciplinary research problem tree and lack of collaboration problem tree.[2] The problem trees investigates the cause and effect of the problem.

  1. Lack of rigour problem tree: Data gathering is the identified root cause of this problem tree. This leads to an ineffective policy decision. Another negative effect of this problem tree is the information wastage wherein the generated information is not utilized properly.[2][171]
  2. Interdisciplinary research problem tree: The research environment, frameworks and methods, and terminologies are the identified roots of this problem tree. Among the effects of this problem tree are the quality of research output, and the rigour or precision and accuracy of the information.[2]
  3. Lack of collaboration problem tree: Research collaboration among researchers, institutions, government and the academe must be pursued. The differences are the identified root cause of this challenge and thus, results to limitations like lack of openness to failure and perception that academic research is not useful.[2]
Lack of Rigor Interdisciplinary Research Lack of Collaboration
Bad Policy
Wastage of Resources
Empathy/ Understanding
Lack of Openness to Failure
Perception that Academic Research is not Useful
Core Problem Lack of Rigor Interdisciplinary Research Lack of Collaboration
Paucity of Data
Integrate old models into new lines of research
Lack of institutional commitment
Fear of independent research
Shifting political agenda
Disciplinary provinciality
Shaping priorities
Propriety of Data
Divergent needs, audiences and language
Journals have small audiences
Logistics of Data Collection
Poor Training/ Education of Researchers
Politics of Research Use
Research Environment (political, structural, institutional)
Terminology (language use, jargon, assumptions)
Frameworks/ methods
Different Incentives
Different Goals
Different Processes

Post-2015 ICT4D Gaps[edit]

The post-2015 development agenda (PDTA) encompasses future goals that will guide current and future development initiatives of countries and other major stakeholders. With this current roadmap, ICT4D has to coordinate its policies and practices with the post-2015 development agenda.[172] The New Development-Oriented Priorities is based on the Top Post-2015 ICT4D Gaps, which represents the under-represented area of ICT4D.[172]

Here are the Top Post-2015 ICT4D Gaps[172]

  1. Environment
  2. Sustainability
  3. Poverty
  4. Development Finance
  5. Basic Needs
  6. Economic Development: Growth, Jobs and the Digital Economy Development 2.0
  7. Accountability and Transparency Data Revolution Cross-Border Flows
  8. Peace and Security
  9. Urban Development
  10. Resilience
  11. Inclusive Development
  12. The Dark Side of ICTs
  13. Changing the Language and Worldview of ICT4D

Other Issues[edit]

The other issues that affects the innovation are: legal and regulatory, moral and ethical, social, economic, technology, language and script, and security.[173]

E-waste through improved design and recycling

In the Development Goals, under Environmental and Sustainability is the topic on waste which is an important aspect of the relation between ICTs and environment. When ICT goes faulty and obsolete they become waste. We need to pay a particular attention on the impact of electrical and electronic wastes. Assessing the side-effects of ICT Waste or electronic waste disposal - CRTs, busted fluorescent lamp, used lead-acid batteries, ink toners and cartridges, used oil, contaminated containers etc. The installation of standardized solutions on E-waste management such as improved design example The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) approved new standards for green ICT, including an environmentally friendly charger for laptops and other portable devices (Recommendation ITU-T L.1002) and green batteries for smartphones and handheld devices (Recommendation ITU-T L.1010).

Initial Problems

With the continuous impact growth of ICT to the world, a lot of other improvement opportunities in the development sectors emerged. In this Information Age, information is considered great source of wealth which prompted development planners to invest in ICT projects. This give birth to different applications for the development sector. However, some of them are considered non appropriate technology. As mentioned in the module, "How can one talk about connectivity in rural areas when electricity itself is lacking? How can one assume computer literacy when functional literacy is a problem?" Thus, I would say that we haven't fully maximized the benefits we can get from ICT because of other problems that are already present in other factors that would affect ICT's functionality and effectiveness. Just like what's mentioned above, the initial problem in some rural areas is electricity which must be fixed first before connectivity in that specific area can be accomplished. Same goes with functional literacy problem before thinking of teaching computer literacy. These initial problems must be fixed first to effectively execute ICT applications. For instance in the Philippines, I believe we must improve the speed of our connectivity in the National Capital Region first, before we can help people in remote areas. ICT has a lot to offer. We just need to work hard on getting all that we can get from it by starting from the bottom - fixing what needs to fixed first before creating something that will not be use because of unfixed initial problems. Just like in other aspects in life, "first things first"

Rebound Environmental Effects[edit]

Arguably, ICT’s good effects are also being negated by its bad effects to the environment.

Negative impacts come mainly from energy consumption and the materials used to the production and distribution of ICT equipment, energy consumption in use directly and for cooling, short product life cycles and e-waste and exploitative applications.

Also, E-commerce may not save energy if it encourages long distance delivery. Tele-working can increase the home use of energy and demand for electronic equipment such as routers and printers.

One concern on the rebound effects of Smart Grids is with lower energy cost and thereby increased use, potential emissions reductions from energy efficiency gains are lost to rebound effects.[174]

Country and region case studies[edit]


The Philippines, one of newly industrialized countries (NICs) in Asia, is continuously boosting ICT4D in sectors like education, agriculture, livelihood and even disaster preparedness. Directed by the Philippine Digital Strategy 2011-2016,[175] the government and the private sector have been harnessing ICT to achieve development agenda.

The Philippine’s Commission of Information and Communications Technology (CICT) drafted a Philippine ICT-Roadmap in 2006 to "establish new policy directions for CICT as the lead government agency for ICT development in the country." This roadmap is governed by seven guiding principles that centers on the role of government in ICT development as an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment. CICT also advocates for a "multi-stakeholder approach" which involves the private sector, civil society, civic organizations, international organizations and other partners to have an important role and responsibility in the development of Philippine Information Society.[176]

The Philippine Digital Strategy (PDS) calls upon the knowledge given in the CICT's ICT-Roadmap and builds on it further. Of the four major areas covered in the said roadmap, the PDS has given e-Government the highest priority, stating " ease of access, ease of use, efficiency and quality of services rendered, and establishment of privacy and security standards" for the people of the country. The prioritization also focuses on the aim of the government to fight corruption and poverty, and for government services and information to be more transparent and widely accessible to all citizens. This will also give the government an opportunity to create an open, two-way interaction in order to receive and acknowledge feedback and suggestions with the citizens.[177]

ICT4D Applications in Philippines[edit]

(Based on excerpt from Mapping ICT4D by Noriel Tiglao Erwin A. Alampay) [7]

1. E-government / E-governance

Most of the projects listed in the database were implemented by the government (n=240). One explanation is that it is easier to access government information. This is also reflective of the fact that the government is also the largest single contributor to the local economy. This being the case, there’s much diversity in e- governance projects. For one, the egovernance list would show at least one project that deals with other areas (i.e. health, learning, business, science, etc.). Second, there’s a diversity in the technologies used. Some are web- based, others use SMS, and others pertain to management information systems and local area networks.

2. E-business

Thirty-six (37) e-business applications were included in the database. Among the notable applications were e-ticketing/SMS ticketing service that Aboitiz provides its customers. This system provides a new channel for passengers to directly book and pay for their own tickets and allows ticketing agents to issue any accommodation for any Super Ferry voyage available online. Aboitiz also provides Easy Cards which is a pre-paid, re-loadable and refundable card for passengers that provides the safety and security of not having to carry around cash while on its vessels. There are also different B2B models, with b2bpricenow, bayantrade and There are also virtual malls that cater to selling local product abroad especially OFWs (e.g.;, or getting Filipinos abroad to buy local products for relatives in the Philippines (e.g.; In addition, then Export and Industry provides an online portal called EXPERTRADE. It is a trade portal and online community of Filipino exporters, local and international importers and traders that was created to stimulate the growth of the Philippine export industry It is also being used for information on tourist sites; commodities price watch, and as electronic yellow pages (e.g. Some projects are geared specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises. For instance, project involves capability-building for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the targeted areas through 6 program components: policy analysis and advocacy; business support services; market and technology linkage; economic development fund; infrastructure planning and analysis; coordination and integration of development efforts. Another project is by the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) called the APEC Centre for Technology Exchange for Small and Medium Enterprise (ACTETSME). The program intends to accelerate the development of SMEs in the region through information, technology and training exchange and make them more competitive both in local & foreign markets. The Center operates as a resources hub with capability for information networking, organizing special activities to facilitate technology transfer projects and HRD development through training.

3. E-learning

E- learning applications was the second- most popular dveelopment application for ICTs. The primary educational application has been for (a) distance learning; (b) ICT skills development; (c) networking knowledge institutions; and (d) providing access and exposure to the technologies.

Distance learning is delivered through various technologies. For instance, Fr. Francis Lucas (1999) has documented a radio broadcasting model for teaching rural women and household in Quezon about farming technologies. On the other hand, the National Broadcasting Network and the National Insitutte for Science and Math Education use the television in its Continuing Science Education for Teachers via Television (CONSTEL) project. It made use of the latest broadcast satellite technology combined with wellresearched and carefully produced tele- lessons. This could then be used to train elementary and secondary school teachers in teaching English, Science and Mathematics. Last, the United Nations Development Pogramme has the Text2Teach program that has been piloted in 40 elementary public schools in poorer areas in the Philippines. It enables schools to order science videos from electronic libraries using SMS technology.

Among courses and topics delivered on a distance learning mode are courses on journalism (Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism), on social health insurance (IPHM). Distance learning is also being practiced by the UP-College of Public Health and Makati Med (Domingo, 2004).

Children and Youth Foundation of the Philippines and the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise run the e-Skills Learning Project. The eSkills is an innovative approach in training students in trade and livelihood skills. The goal of the project is to improve the quality, delivery system, and widen the reach of skills and technical training and education. Selected courses demanded by the market and successfully run by training institutions are converted into web-based formats and interactive modules. A portal hosts the developed curricula, which are accessible through the Internet. Compact discs (CDs) are made available to those with no Internet connections. Interested training institutions and organizations link with CYFP to access the developed modules. They can be used to run new training programs/courses, as replacements to current programs or as supplements to existing ones. The project provides web-based educational content, online testing, instructor training and technical support. A similar program called the Ed-venture project provides computers, internet connectivity, training and after training support for public high schools.

ICTs are also being used to enhance teaching skills and techniques. For instance, the Diliman Interactive Learning Center provides technical support and facilities for faculty members to develop digital instructional resources. De La Salle University, on the other hand, uses the Virtual Classroom which was licensed by the National University of Singapore to use its online learning system, called: Integrated Virtual Learning Environment (IVLE). Through the IVLE, teachers are able to enhance or complement their teaching by making courses available in cyberspace.

Another e- learning application is the linking together of various research and educational institutions, through a common infrastructure. For instance, the Philippine Research, Education & Government Information Network (PREGINET) involved the establishment of a nationwide broadband network for research and education institutions involved in the development and demonstration of new technologies, services and applications w/ connectivity to international research and education networks. The E-library project, on the other hand will integrate the current libraries and information sources into a single network system, with focus on Philippine materials to serve a wide range of clients. Other materials & links such as online library database systems will be made available and accessible only through subscription.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in partnership with Science Education Institute and Intel Philippines, on the other hand, provides Mobile Information Technology Classrooms (MITCs) that use an air-conditioned 32-seat bus equipped w/ 17 laptops, television sets, 2 VHS players, 2 LCD projectors, 2 projector screens, public address system, printer and generator set. They are equipped w/ the latest in education technology facilities, computers & audio-visuals and instructional materials in science and technology. They provide science and mathematics coursewares in CD & VHS formats. There are similar projects in Bulacan province and by DOST.

4. E-health

As of now, there are only 18 health projects listed in our database. E- heath initiatives can be classified into two main categories. One is for health information and education which can be transmitted through the internet, SMS and dedicated hotlines. Second is for specialized databases and information systems.

Examples of health information projects include the Department of Health’s SARS Hotlines and Textlines. Med Info. Inc. on the other hand provides an SMS service that allows users to ask about disease symptoms and medication information (such as dosage). Another project is the Information and Communication Technology Capacity Building for Asia Network (ITCAN) project which is an Internet-based communication service (i.e. mailing lists and a central portal with all training materials an online resource database of best ICT practices). ITCAN’s objective is to transfer knowledge and create skills on best Internet practices for providing quality HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health services and information as well as ICT-enhanced management information systems.

The Institute for Popular Culture (IPC), based in Ateneo de Manila, on the other hand, has been conducting a series of e-conferences on health issues called Qu4Rad ( The QU4RAD network is an international collaboration that aims to assist people (providers, users, citizens) improve their management of medicines for health care by facilitating communication, learning and experimentation and combining scientific, cultural and moral-ethical reasoning in a glocal (global and local) context. Among the econferences that they have hosted are on social health insurance, quantifying medical requirement of community health programs and the next is on the role of social insurance in pricing essential medicines. Similarly, the Institute for Public Health Management (IPHM) ( offers distance education services for local pub lic health managers. Among the topics they offer are courses on health micro insurance, strategic management, and health leadership. Health education and providing social health insurance was actually pioneered by Kapwa Ko Mahal Ko, which used the TV as media for reaching people (Alampay & Ong 2003).

As far as database are concerned, a notable project is the Infectious Disease Data Management System which captures, analyzes and shows health data, specifically on Tuberculosis & Rabies, through the use of maps through its GIS modules.

Although not included in our database, a previous Galing Pook entry from Pangasinan Province reported how linking information about hospital medical needs of all government hospitals in the province helped reduce the cost of medicine purchases by 50%. This is especially important ever since devolution eliminated the economies of scale provided by a centralized purchasing performed by the Department of Health (Alampay, 2001).

5. E-employment

There are twelve e-employment projects listed in the database. They deal with employment opportunities both local and abroad, money remittance and workers’ safety. Overseas employment

Considering that there are millions of Filipinos are abroad or seek employment abroad, the use of ICTs for employment have been to match people seeking

employment with the available local manpower.

ATIKHA's BaliKabayani program provides support to OFWs and their families. Their multi-service center in San Pablo City brings the latest communication technologies to the OFW and their families to bridge the communication gap and problems family relations brought by prolonged separation. It offers free tutorials to children and relatives of OFW on the use of internet, e- mail, net meeting, cyber photos and cyber greeting cards which they can use in communicating to their parents or brothers/sisters abroad. Similarly, the OWWA, during the Iraq war, provided "Tele-Ugnayan Centers" around the country, which served as pseudo-calling centers to link OFWs in the Middle East with their families at home.

However, given the proliferation of unscrupulous recruitment agencies, the DOLE ( also provides an online service for OFW applicants to check the status of the recruitment agency facilitating their employment. A recent and promising development is the SMART Padala remittance service. This is hailed as the world’s first international cash-sending scheme using SMS technology, that would cut costs and fraud. It can potentially save 20 to 50 per cent off compared to other remittance schemes. It is integrated with another innovation that SMART introduced, called SMART Money (Estopace, 2004). Local employment

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has a web-based job matching service ( for individual job applicants and interested establishments. It matches skills needed and location (or area of operation) of the establishment. Likewise, a number of Stage 3 LGU websites also provide local job postings on their websites. Amo ng them are Naga City, Bulacan Province and Bohol Province.

Non-profit organizations also make use of the Internet to find volunteers to field for local non- governmental organizations. for instance claims to be the Philippines' first volunteer portal where NGOs can post their volunteer requirements.

These online job-matching services can be investigated on whether it really expands opportunities for people, or whether it simply mirrors real life preferences by establishments and employers (Niles and Hanson, 2003).

6. E-environment

Twenty-one environmental programs were listed in the database. Most of the projects listed involved Geographic Information System (GIS) applications. Geographic information systems applications have also been used to map out, contour, hydrology, land use, soil type, erosion, land cover, population, among others.

Use of ICTs for the environment also involved empowering people to report cases of environmental pollution or degradation. Notable is the use of SMS to link up citizen with government in monitoring the environment. Among them are Bantay Usok, Bantay Dagat and Bantay Kalikasan.

Radio and television, on the other hand, has been very useful in raising awareness and pushing for environmental causes. An example of this was Miriam's local radio program called "Radio Kalikasan" as early as 1991.

Although it was not included in the database, the National Disaster Coordinating Center and the PAG-ASA use satellite technology to monitor the weather and environmental disturbances. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics ( has a link to updated Pagasa weather forecasts that also show predicted mean sea level pressure and wind and updated satellite photos of the country.

7. E-agriculture

There were only eleven (12) e-agriculture projects included in the database. Among the ICT applications used for agriculture were the use of database of research applications such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Research and Development Information System (AFRDIS) project of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). It interconnects 56 research and development agencies nationwide into 11 clusters. It provides a virtual data backbone for the government R&D sector that will be linked to the National Information Network (NIN) of the Department of Agriculture, as specified in RA 8457 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997. It enables the general public and media to access research and technology information from all these agencies. A similar program is being implemented by the DOST called the Agriculture and Natural Resources Information Network (AGRINET). PCCARD also has the Farmers' Information and Technology Services (FITS)/TechnoPinoy Databases. It is used to facilitate faster access to information and fast track the delivery of services at the provincial and municipal level related to the clients' information and technology needs in agriculture, forestry and natural resources.

PH Domain Foundation, on the other hand, has a different approach towards agricultural and rural development technology knowledge-sharing, and this is thru the formation of its own e-groups and maillists. They also provide an online consultancy program that gives users access to agriculturists, lawyers, bankers and women’s rights advocates, among others.

Another important agricultural application of ICTs is with respect to the dissemination of farm prices, via the Internet and through fax and radio that is done by the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics . Their website ( has a daily updated price watch and a link with Pag-asa regarding the weather situation. Land Bank also has a marketing program called "Palengke sa ere" that is also radio-based and airs from 5-7 am and 6-8 pm.

Last, geographic information systems are also being used in agriculture to identify soil patterns and topographies and mapping properties disposed of in agrarian reform communities.

8. E-science

According to Hamelink (2003), one dimension of the interaction of informational developments and society pertains to technology. Among the basic human rights that people have is to benefit equally from technological developments. Hence, projects that pertain to the access of the ICT infrastructure was included under e-science. Included among the projects that provide access are the Multipurpose Community Telecenter project (; ATIKHA’s use of video phones for OFW families (Diamond, 1993; Doyo, 2002); OWWA’s Tele Ugnayan project during the Iraq war (Alampay, 2003) ; broadband access, such as in PREGINET and CATNet and IFDCI's use of satellite and omni directional antennas (Hocson, 2002). In addition to this, the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of DOST, has been at the forefront of developing open source software through such programs as Open Source Systems for Workstations and Servers and Linux Terminal Server Project and the Bayanihan linux ( These projects will optimize the use of open-source and freeware software without sacrificing the integrity of hardware specification of the system at a lower cost.

An interesting program for providing access to the disabled is called "Computer Eyes". This program is implemented by IBM Philippines together with Resources for the Blind. More than 80 blind students coming from special education centers from Metro Manila and various provinces participate in a camp. Participants are taught new skills and access to information through the Internet. Over a span of two weeks, they are taught how the computer works, learn word processing, build and upload their personal websites. Students are aided by a screen reader program that speaks, through a sound card, the text displayed on the screen. E-science projects also include linking together research and educational institutions and knowledge which was also previously mentioned under e-learning. Among these are the e-library project; research database on agriculture and fisheries.

TV White Space and Free WiFi

In lieu with the drive for better Internet penetration as mandated by the Philippine Digital Srategy, the DOST (Department of Science and Technology) has begun experimenting on novel ways to further Internet coverage.

One of this is the TV White Space (TVWS) pilot testing that has been deemed to be the most extensive in the Asian region.[178] This project aims to address the connectivity deficiency in rural areas by harnessing TVWS, the blank frequencies between broadcast TV channels. This can be tapped to provide wireles data connectivity due to its long-range proparation features (with signals traveling through water and thick foliage).

The project is to be rolled out slowly, and the initial ideas involved using TVWS as a means of connectivity for the eHealth eEducation, and other eGovernment services. It can also help the environmental sensor networks utilized by the DOST.

Another initiative to help increase the country's Internet connection is the DOST's drive to provide free WiFi hotspots in public places across the Philippines.[179] These connectios are envisioned to be available 24/7, and uses NGH (Next Generation Hotspot) technology. The project, which was originally slated to culminate in 2016, will provide free WiFi hotspots to the following coverage areas (in order of priority):

  • Public Plazas and ParksPublic Central Schools (Primary and Secondary)
  • Public Libraries
  • Government Hospitals and Rural Health Units
  • State Colleges and Universities
  • Train stations (Metro and Light Rail Transits)
  • Seaports and Airports
  • Municipal and City Halls
  • National Government Offices


Over the last decade, the ICT access in Africa has increased immensely. As access increases, opportunities arise to leverage ICT to extend timely information and services to previously underserved populations, and to increase productivity and innovation in the public and private sectors. Examples of this are the increase in the number of people who are able to acquire mobile phone service, improved disease monitoring and vaccination planning and m-banking services using the mobile to extend access financial services to populations that never before had a bank account. But despite of the dramatic ICT improvements made, significant access gaps are still there.[180]

infoDev, a global multi-donor program in the World Bank Group that supports growth-oriented entrepreneurs through business incubators and innovation hubs,[181] aims to help African countries leverage ICT to reach their development goals by building local capacity. Along with the Global Information and Communications Technology Department of the World Bank (GICT) as a co-sponsor, a study entitled "Broadband for Africa: Policy for Promoting the Development of Backbone Networks" was made to review the current of backbone network infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa and investigate the significance of this for the development of mass-market broadband ICT services in the region. Through this study, the underlying reasons for the current pattern of infrastructure development were examined. Options for policy-makers to promote further development and use of these networks were also set out.[180]

Furthermore, infoDev has helped with innovation and entrepreneurship as well as education. Small enterprises serve as one of the biggest contributors of production and employment in Sub-Saharan Africa but these enterprises are not able to reach their full potential due to three reasons:Cite error: The opening <ref> tag is malformed or has a bad name (see the help page).

When it comes to education, a series of ICT initiatives serves as a representation of the enormous potential of ICTs in the region. Just like small enterprises, education has an important role in the development of the region. infoDev aids by sponsoring a series of substantive cutting-edge research and analytical studies as well as capacity-building activities designed to enhance policy-relevant knowledge about what works, and what does not, in using ICT in education in developing countries, especially as it relates to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to make this knowledge more accessible to developing country policymakers and their colleagues in the donor community.[180]

These are elements that P. Clint Rogers observed in successful ICT4D projects in Africa:[182]

  • Augment existing economic activity, focus on the strong point and make it even better.
  • Increase relevance by involving the end user from the very beginning of the project.
  • Build on existing infrastructure (e.g., radio, TV, mobile phones), and/or let the end user see how simple the infrastructure is.
  • Think what an African community has to offer to others and not what others can offer to an African community.

A cross-cutting study of Regional Trade and Integration was carried out by ICT Development Associates, and includes case studies of Botswana, Kenya and Senegal. Africa's trade performance is weak compared with other world regions, particularly in trade within the continent, and is undermined by inefficiencies and poor coordination between national agencies along the supply chain. The study describes experience and opportunities for using ICTs in trade facilitation –- especially in improving the efficiency and coordination of trade and transport logistics; port, customs and border management; and the availability to trading businesses of information about markets and trade requirements. Data sharing through national and regional "single windows" can reduce costs and delays, improve reliability and enhance the profitability of trade. ICTs should, however, form part of a broad approach to trade promotion, and implementation needs careful planning and resources. Regional integration through Regional Economic Communities (RECs) can play a crucial role. The RECs and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) should work with other stakeholders to advance ICT-enabled trade facilitation.

A second cross-cutting study on ICT Competitiveness was carried out by Excelsior with TNO, with country case studies of Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria. These countries are embracing the use of ICTs in novel ways to improve the social and economic opportunities available to firms and citizens. Provided the African ICT market continues its impressive double-digit growth, the market could be worth more than US$150 billion by 2016. The study highlights the need to build a competitive ICT industry to promote innovation, job creation and the export potential of African companies.

Of course, challenges remain. The continent largely lags behind the rest of the world in terms of ICT readiness and Africa has made slower progress in the past two years when compared to other regions. The Arab Spring has caused a short-term decline in inward FDI in the north of the continent. Pricing of ICT services, especially broadband, continues to be higher than other regions. Furthermore, the growing trend towards taxing incoming international calls suggests a worrying reversion to the former view of the ICT sector as a cash cow. The challenge for the next decade is to build on the mobile success story and complete the transformation. This will require reducing the cost of access for mobile broadband, supporting government private-sector collaboration, improving the e-commerce environment, enhancing ICT labour market skills, encouraging innovative business models that drive employment, such as microwork and business process outsourcing, and creating spaces that support ICT entrepreneurship, such as ICT incubators, and local ICT development clusters.[183]


The structure of the telecommunication sector in Bolivia is different from most other countries. Local service is provided by 16 telephone cooperatives, long distance service by one private company and mobile cellular by two private companies (a third license was issued late last year and expected to start operations in the 4th quarter of 2000). Fixed telephone operators have a monopoly until November 2001 when the market is to be fully opened to competition.

The Internet market is experiencing fairly rapid growth but is nonetheless constrained by a number of factors. The most notable are legal restrictions that forbid Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from directly providing their own outgoing international connectivity or domestic leased lines. The ISPs claim that this results in higher costs, poor service and unfair competition from the traditional telecom operators that provide Internet access. Other factors such as low incomes (after Haiti, Bolivia is the second poorest country in the Latin American and Caribbean region), lack of awareness and shortages of and antiquated communication equipment also affect Internet take-up.

An ITU team consisting of Michael Minges, Ben Petrazzini and a consultant, Sonia Jorge, visited La Paz from 15–19 May to carry out research for the Bolivia Internet Case Study. The country's telecom regulator, Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SITTEL), hosted the team. To date, there has been no comprehensive document produced on the state of the Internet in Bolivia. SITTEL is looking forward to the ITU report as it will assist their plans to become more involved in Internet policy issues. The nation makes an interesting addition to the Internet case study series since there are a number of factors that are different from other countries studied. These include a unique telecom structure, dispersed Internet usage (for example there are more Internet users in the tropical city of Santa Cruz than the Andean capital of La Paz), growing Spanish content and a mix of Internet providers ranging from incumbent telecom operators to pan-regional ISPs.[184]

Lao PDR[edit]

ICT is being adapted in Lao PDR as a possible means of reducing poverty in the country. Being one of the poorest countries in Asia, its Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is refining its strategies for agricultural development to:

  1. achieve food security,
  2. assist communities in developing agricultural production for cash,
  3. stabilize shifting cultivation, and
  4. develop forests sustainably.

The challenge is in the level of their workforce and staff: they lack the required breadth of knowledge and skills for them to become effective and creative problem solvers. Their solution to this challenge is the creation of the Bachelors in Poverty Reduction and Agriculture Management (PRAM) degree program to provide broad skills at the grassroots level. The United Nations University International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST), in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, is designing and building a software for capacity building. It is designed with the help from district up to national levels and the PRAM teachers and students themselves.[185]


Thailand prioritizes ICT by establishing a National Information Technology Committee (NITC) which is chaired by the Prime Minister. The committee has four modules that cover agriculture, industry, finance and government. The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) serves as support to the committee through R & D program and initiatives. The committees’ job is to develop ICT policies and to promote ICT development and utilization in Thailand. The first ICT policy created was the IT2000 which has three main goals, (1) the development of a sound IT infrastructure (2) the development of people in the area of IT to ensure growth of the IT sector (3) good governance in delivery of public services and in government administration. Under this new policy, several initiatives have been started. Here are some of them:[186]

School Net Thailand

It seeks to improve and provide equal access to education to Thai youths whether living in urban or rural areas by connecting schools through a shared network using the internet. Also the network has a program that allows teachers to create their content to add to the existing library in the network.

Government Information Network

This network provides a private network for government agencies but also provides other services like government directory, e-Government Portal and secure electronic mail using digital ID and public-key infrastructure (PKI)

Thailand ICT Laws

NICT has passed several laws that have already been enacted, including data protection laws and computer crime laws to name a few.

IT 2010

This framework was approved in 2002. For the first decade of the 21st century. His Majesty recognized that to build a strong economy that can compete internationally it must exploit the benefits of Information Technology to move to a knowledge based economy which plans on investing on technological infrastructure to build the information industry and to promote innovation. Also to increase the amount of knowledge workers.[187]


Malaysia has a road map called the Eight Malaysia Plan (2001-2005). The plan focuses on making Malaysia in to a major ICT hub by promoting e-commerce and R&D activities on soft factors of ICT developments, upgrading ICT infrastructure, supporting local-content developers and ICT-based small to medium enterprises. The plan seeks to hit 21 development areas because ICT’s general purpose can be applied in to many areas. Malaysia positions ICT as an important complement to support the 21 development areas. The government takes an active role in initiating projects but non-government organizations have also played a significant role in initiating ICT projects. Here is a list of some of the development areas and the initiatives that go with it. Note: Not all of the 21 development areas have ICT usage yet.

Population and Human Resource Development (Poverty Eradication)

-Online Poverty Database (1998)

This database centralizes all information concerning the urban poor. It simplifies the verification process so all types of assistance can be recorded so the Ministry of Rural Development can take action.

-E-Learning for Life (Coca-Cola) (2002)

ICT hubs are erected in six secondary schools and several semi-urban areas across Malaysia. Thu hubs have hardware and software and an internet connection for the teachers and students to engage in ICT training for the overall goal, which is part of Malaysia vision of building a knowledge economy.

-Computer in Education (CIE) (1995)

Started by the Ministry of Education, this initiative introduces the subject of computer literacy to primary and secondary schools across Malaysia. It trained 1230 teachers on CIE in education and created 90 laboratories for secondary schools and 20 laboratories for primary school.

Regional and Agriculture Development

-Community Communications Development Programme (CCDP)

CCDP targets rural and remote communities and provide them access to internet for e-learning and e-commerce. It encourages the usage of communications based media all over Malaysia.


The goal of this initiative is to attempt to improve the life of poor rural farmers by giving them access to knowledge of agriculture through the computer centers that have access to the internet and to provide IICT training to bridge the digital divide.

-AkisNet (2001)

Akisnet is a software application specifically created for the agriculture sub-sectors Wwth the goal of bridging the digital divide in the agriculture communities. The four main goal are:

1. Establishment of an ICT infrastructure.

2. The creation of productivity enhancing programs.

3. Teaching farmers ICT to increase ICT literacy in these communities.

4. The creation of commercial opportunities for the agriculture community.

The goal of this software is to help local farming projects to produce low cost solutions to prepare them for participation to the e-Marketplace.



It is an online portal that connects members to a wealth of unbiased medical information, medicine and self-care for minor ailments and any other health related information. The portal also allows users to have direct contact with pharmacists who can complete a pharmaceutical transaction online.

Youth and Woman Development

-Networking Women is the website of the National Council of Women’s Organization created to teach ICT skills to women. The website serves as a hub for other women organizations and as a platform to conduct research on the impact of ICT in women lives.

-K-Youth (2003)

The project seeks to equip youth living in the paddy farming area of Karpan Malaysia with ICT knowledge for sustainable community development. The project is design in phases. The first phase will teach them about basic computer usage from operating windows to surfing the internet.


-e-Public Services

e-PS was designed to assist people in navigating important information on forms and public services. E-PS will enable the public to easily download application forms and to access a variety of government services online.[188]


Digital Bangladesh[edit]

Digital Bangladesh implies the broad use of computers, and embodies the modern philosophy of effective and useful use of technology in terms of implementing the promises in education, health, job placement and poverty reduction. The party underscored a changing attitude, positive thinking and innovative ideas for the success of “Digital Bangladesh”.

The philosophy of “Digital Bangladesh” comprises ensuring people’s democracy and human rights, transparency, accountability, establishing justice and ensuring delivery of government services to the citizens of Bangladesh through maximum use of technology, with the ultimate goal being the overall improvement of the daily lifestyle of general people. This includes all classes of people and does not discriminate people in terms of technology.

The government further emphasized on the four elements of “Digital Bangladesh Vision” which are human resource development, people involvement, civil services and use of information technology in business.[189]

ICT4D Services in Bangladesh[edit]

* National Portal Framework (NPF) The National Portal Framework (NPF) is the single platform for accessing all public information from any government organization to ensure easy accessibility to information for citizens and easy management and share of data and information among various organizations.[189]

* Multimedia classrooms and e-books Multimedia classrooms has been introduced in 500 schools, 15,200 secondary schools and 5,300 Madrasa through Ministry of Education of Bangladesh within 2014. A number of 23,661 primary and secondary school teachers now use multimedia contents through teacher's portal. More than 300 electronic text books of primary and secondary education are made available online for students.[190][191]

* e-Purjee-Digital Sugarcane Procurement System The system allows the sugar mills all over Bangladesh to send purchase orders to the sugarcane growers through SMS. Sugar and Food Industries Corporation of Bangladesh has been running the e-Purjee system in 15 state-owned sugar mills of Bangladesh since 2011-12.[192]

* Jatiyo e-Tathyakosh Jatiyo e-Tathyakosh is an online knowledge bank on livelihood related information and contents. The medium is Bangla and contents are delivered in audio-visual, text and animation formats.[193][194]

International programs, agencies, and strategies[edit]


eLAC is an intergovernmental strategy that conceives of information and communications technologies as instruments for economic development and social inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean.[195] eLAC is based on a public-private sector partnership[196] and is part of a long-term vision (until 2015) in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and those of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The inter-governmental strategy contributes to the implementation of these long-term goals by pursuing a consecutive series of frequently adjusted short-term action plans with concrete qualitative and quantitative goals to be achieved. Three plans have already been worked on to implement this vision:

2005-2007: eLAC2007 with 30 goals and 70 activities for the years 2005-2007[197]

2008-2010: eLAC2010 with 83 goals to be achieved during the 2008-2010 period[198]

2010-2015: eLAC2015 with 24 goals to be achieved during the period 2010-2015[199]

The monitoring of eLAC through United Nations ECLAC has produced a wealth of important statistics of the most diverse aspects of ICT4D in Latin America and the Caribbean.[195][200][201]


Strengthening Capacity Research in Asia (SIRCA) is a pioneer capacity-building programme that intends to develop social science research skills of emerging researchers in Asia Pacific region in the information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) space by supporting research that was scientific, replicable, generalisable, collaborative, and actionable (i.e. applied research).[2] It is conceptualized by the Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and was initiated in August 2008.[2]

SIRCA has the following objectives:

  1. Promote high-quality inter-disciplinary social science research in Internet development, e-services, new media use and social impact, and policy for the benefit and advancement of individuals, organisations, nation and society;
  2. Support networks and linkages among researchers through a mentorship programme, as well as workshops and conferences to share knowledge and conduct training activities; and
  3. Disseminate the research findings through such venues as academic journals, conferences and other relevant online and print media outlets.

The SIRCA programme facilitated 15 research projects (12 grant recipients, and three graduate student awardees) of emerging ICTD from eight Asian countries from 2008 to 2011. The topics covered on these studies address key development goals in agriculture, education, health, migration, livelihoods, and disaster-preparedness for the benefit and advancement of individuals, organizations, nations, and societies in Asia. The program mentors ensured that projects had not only an applied practical context but were grounded in theory, a necessity for publication in the best peer reviewed journals, and for contribution to the scientific community.[2]

To further improve SIRCA to become one of the best ICT4D programs in Asia, SiRC hired an external evaluator in cooperation with their management. Two evaluations were done: a formative, The SIRCA Programme Evaluation; and a qualitative, The Mentorship Model Evaluation. The formative evaluation spanned for two years and four months (March 2008- July 2010). Grant Review Process, Mentorship Programme, SIRCA Workshops, and Conferences were areas of The SIRCA Programme Evaluation. On the other hand, the second evaluation (qualitative) consisted of interviews of Principal Investigators (PI) and mentors.[202]


Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is the federal government agency tasked to administer most of Canada's official cooperation program with developing countries and countries in transition. CIDA's mandate is to reduce poverty and to contribute to a better world by supporting sustainable development in developing countries. To attain this goal, CIDA focuses on the following priorities:

  • basic human needs - where 25% of CIDA's resources is devoted
  • full participation of women
  • infrastructure for the poor
  • human rights/democratic development/governance
  • private-sector development
  • the environment[203]

CIDA's strategy in participating in ICT projects is guided by needs and priorities of developing/transition countries. This strategy is meant to guide and inform CIDA's work in the ICT sector, especially its involvement in international projects and initiatives for the next three to five years. All of these are based on the principle of country ownership. This further recommends that CIDA's approach to be at two levels:

  1. Programming should focus on
    • using ICT as a tool for development of the education and health sectors - particularly the control and prevention of communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS.
    • building environments via support for policy and regulatory framework advice and development and promoting local capacity development; and
    • supporting knowledge sharing and networking.
  2. Strategic institutional partnerships by supporting international initiatives between different sectors (the government, private sector, civil society) through exerting efforts in knowledge-sharing activities and bridging the digital divide through the Knowledge for Development Fund.

CIDA has been programming in ICTs for over 25 years. Through the years, its interventions and contributions are deemed relevant, addressed real needs, and participated in balancing the development of institutional, human, and infrastructure capacity without letting go of the rapidly changing ICT dynamics. Its work in ICT4D can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Category 1: ICTs - a sector in itself
    • Infrastructure services, where ICT belongs, is one of the six programming priorities in which it is mandated to help developing countries deliver environmentally sound infrastructure services, with an emphasis on poorer groups and on capacity building. Such services/projects include The Telecommunication Sector Reform project (Colombia) and The Digital Telecommunications Training Project (China).
    • The role of CIDA in this category are:
      • support for modernizing IT and telecommunications sectors
      • support for installing a telecommunications, television, or radio network
      • training and capacity development in ICTs
  2. Category 2: Using ICTs as tools
    • These international projects uses ICTs as tools to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of sectoral interventions. Due to its cross-cutting nature, ICTs affect various sectors, thus lending themselves well to integrated efforts. Projects that fall under this category are Global Distance Learning Center (Ukraine), Integrating and Launching ICTs in Education (Jordan), and Carioca HIV/AIDS project (Caribbean Region).
    • ICTs are used as tools by:
      • enhancing delivery of education through distance education (tertiary education, teacher training)
      • improving public sector administration systems (taxation, finance, health)
      • utilizing Geographic Information Systems to manage water systems, environment, and agricultural production
      • sharing information
      • promoting health care
  3. Category 3: Using ICTs to promote knowledge sharing and networking
    • The focus of these projects is building knowledge networks, links, and sharing knowledge. Networks are used as a vehicle to achieve positive development outcomes in other sectors. These projects include the (global) Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, the Earth Council, and the Sierra Leone


W.TEC is a Nigerian non-governmental organization working for the economic and social empowerment of girls and women, using information and communication technologies (ICTs). We have chosen to focus on this area because statistical evidence has shown that in most African countries, women’s use and knowledge of ICTs (to store, share, organise and process information) is lower than men’s, denying them of income-generating opportunities and the chance to network with others.

W.TEC’s programmes will consist of technology literacy training, technology-based projects, mentoring and work placement. W.TEC will also research and publish works examining pivotal issues related to how African women use technology, barriers preventing or limiting technology use, and strategies for more efficient technology use.

Our objectives are for Nigerian women to develop financial independence by: training for ICT-specific jobs, like computer engineer, programmer, system analysts, hardware and network specialists, designers; developing technology skills that can be used for other ICT-reliant jobs or self-employment. We also want women to develop skills and confidence to use ICTs for activism, learning, awareness-raising and advocacy for a better quality of life.

Girls in ICT[edit]

The Girls in ICT initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a global effort to raise awareness on empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider studies and careers in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The initiative is committed to celebrate and commemorate the International Girls in ICT Day on the fourth Thursday of every April as established by the ITU membership.

The Girls in ICT Portal is a tool for girls and young women to get an insight into the ICT sector as well as for partners to understand the importance of the International Girls in ICT Day, developed by the Digital Inclusion programme of ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.


Charging mobile phone from car battery in Uganda

2000 Okinawa Summit of G8 Nations[edit]

ICT4D was first conceptualized during the 2000 Okinawa Summit of G8 Nations with the social promise of poverty alleviation.[2] ICT was defined by the summit of nations as "one of the most potent forces in shaping the twenty-first century"[204] making it a powerful tool in poverty reduction. The G8 Kyushu Okinawa Summit was held in July 21 to 23, 2000 in Nago, City, Okinawa[205] with three paramount themes: 1.) international cooperation aimed at enabling all people in the world to enjoy prosperity, 2.) achieve deeper peace of mind, and 3.) live in a more stable world.

One of its fundamental goals is to attain a "globalization for all people" by bridging the widening gap between developed and developing nations, dealing with detrimental aspects of economic globalization and promoting cooperation for development in developing nations.

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)[edit]

A major event for ICT4D was the twin World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS); the lead organisation was the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The first part of WSIS took place in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003 (with a large ICT4D exhibition and an ICT4D symposium co-ordinated by infoDev). The second part took place in Tunis, Tunisia, in November 2005. One of the chief aims of the WSIS process was to seek solutions to help bridge the so-called "digital divide" separating rich countries from poor countries by spreading access to the Internet in the developing world.

Perspectives on the WSIS are available elsewhere on Wikipedia, and this covers links to civil society, Tunis 2005, US priorities at WSIS, media responses, Tunis conference developments, roles for business and government, digital divide issues, the digital divide and the digital dilemma, common ground, a civil society study on WSIS, and external links.

The 2003 Geneva summit had set out ten targets along with several action lines, with the intention of having those targets to be achieved by 2015. The first part of the summit in Geneva agreed on a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action promoting the utilization of ICTs in all development goals and targets, all in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While the second part of the summit (held in Tunis, Tunisia in 2005) had paved the way for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be established.[206]

WSIS Targets[edit]

  • connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points;
  • connect universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs;
  • connect scientific and research centres with ICTs;
  • connect public libraries, cultural centres, museums, post offices and archives with ICTs;
  • connect health centres and hospitals with ICTs;
  • connect all local and central government departments and establish websites and email addresses;
  • adapt all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society, taking into account national circumstances;
  • ensure that all of the world's population have access to television and radio services;
  • encourage the development of content and to put in place technical conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the Internet;
  • ensure that more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach;

WSIS Action Lines[edit]

  • The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
  • Information and communication infrastructure
  • Access to information and knowledge
  • Capacity building
  • Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
  • Enabling environment
  • ICT applications:
  • Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content
  • Media
  • Ethical dimensions of the information society
  • International and regional cooperation

It is said that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be replaced by the Post-2015 Development Agenda (PTDA) in 2016. In 2014, R. Heeks, a professor of Development Informatics and one of the founding academics in developing the field of "ICT4D", made a comparative analysis between WSIS+10's Review with respect to ICT4D's current and future content (i.e., policy and practice), and Post-2015 Development Agenda (PTDA), identifying post-2015 priorities within ICT4D's current and future concerns in terms of international development providing policymakers and other ICT4D practitioners a significant data to consider in planning their ICT4D activities. (Heeks 2014)[207]

New Development-Oriented Priorities of WSIS would be focusing on the under-represented or "The Top Post-2015 ICT4D Gaps". One of the priorities adheres to the dark side or disbenefits of ICT4D that was usually overlooked. C10 WSIS action line, "Ethical Dimensions of the Information Society" and C5 action line, "Building Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs" deals with privacy and cyber-security. These addresses some cybercrimes that comes with ICT but are narrowly discussed. However, on past studies, there are still disbenefits that are barely mentioned and studied thus there is a need to widen and study the negative effects and factors of ICT4D. This is prioritized so we could fully minimize possible casualties and maximize developments.[207]

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Stocktaking[edit]

WSIS Stocktaking is a publicly accessible database of ICT-related implementation activities, initiated during the Tunis phase of WSIS.


A yearly gathering of delegates from different sectors of society to make known the innovations of IT initiatives and foster creative collaborations to form new ideas. The event is not exclusive as it acquires students, academics, innovators, government and IT novices to join in to help address pressing issues in our digital age.

The UN General Assembly Resolution 56/183 (21 December 2001) endorsed the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases. The first phase took place in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003 and the second phase took place in Tunis, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

Geneva Phase: 10–12 December 2003

The objective of the first phase was to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and take concrete steps to establish the foundations for an Information Society for all, reflecting all the different interests at stake.

Nearly 50 Heads of state/government and Vice-Presidents, 82 Ministers, and 26 Vice-Ministers from 175 countries as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, private sector, and civil society attended the Geneva Phase of WSIS and gave political support to the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Geneva Plan of Action that were adopted on 12 December 2003. More than 11,000 participants from 175 countries attended the Summit and related events.

  • Full texts of the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Geneva Plan of Action
  • More on the first phase of WSIS

Tunis Phase: 16–18 November 2005

The objective of the second phase was to put Geneva's Plan of Action into motion as well as to find solutions and reach agreements in the fields of Internet governance, financing mechanisms, and follow-up and implementation of the Geneva and Tunis documents.

Nearly 50 Heads of state/government and Vice-Presidents and 197 Ministers, Vice Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 174 countries as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, private sector, and civil society attended the Tunis Phase of WSIS and gave political support to the Tunis Commitment and Tunis Agenda for the Information Society that were adopted on 18 November 2005. More than 19,000 participants from 174 countries attended the Summit and related events.

CRS ICT4D Conference[edit]

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), organizes annual conferences on ICT4D, each year with a different theme. So far the following conferences have been conducted:

  • Solutions for Development - Washington, DC (September 2010)
  • Empowering the Poor through Sustainable Technology Solutions - Lusaka, Zambia (March 2011)
  • Creating Value through ICT4D Partnerships - Kigali, Rwanda (March 2012)

Information and Communication Technologies in Horizon 2020[edit]

Planned to run from 2014 to 2020 with an €80 billion budget, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation will bring together all funding currently provided through the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

See also[edit]



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Further reading[edit]

Wireless Networking in the Developing World (PDF book)

External links[edit]