Information and communication technologies for development

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An OLPC class in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) refers to the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) toward social, economic, and political development, with a particular emphasis on helping poor and marginalized people and communities. It aims to help in international development by bridging the digital divide and providing equitable access to technologies. ICT4D is grounded in the notions of "development", "growth", "progress" and "globalization" and is often interpreted as the use of technology to deliver a greater good.[1] Another similar term used in the literature is "digital development".[2] ICT4D draws on theories and frameworks from many disciplines, including sociology, economics, development studies, library and information science, and communication studies.[3]



ICT4D grew out of the attempts to use emerging computing technologies to improve conditions in the developing countries. It formalized through a series of reports, conferences, and funding initiatives that acted as key policy-making avenues:[4] the 1998 World Development Report from the World Bank, highlighting the role of knowledge and ICTs in development; a report from the G8 Digital Opportunities Task Force, concluding that ICTs play a key role in modern human development, the World Summits on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005.

At least three phases can be identified in ICT4D evolution:[5]

  • ICT4D 0.0: mid-1950s to late-1990s. The focus of this earliest phase was on the use of IT (not ICT) in government and private sector organizations in developing countries. One of the earliest computers used in a developing country was a HEC machine installed in 1956 to undertake numerical calculations in the Indian Institute of Statistics in Kolkata.[6]
  • ICT4D 1.0: late-1990s to late-2000s. The advent of the Millennium Development Goals combined with the rise and spread of the Internet in industrialized countries led to a rapid increase in investments in ICT infrastructure and 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. Later, telecentres were also used to deliver government services[citation needed].
  • ICT4D 2.0: late-2000s onwards. There is no clear boundary between phases 1.0 and 2.0. The focus in the phase 2.0 increasingly shifts toward technologies in use, such as the mobile phone and SMS technologies. 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.[7]

The table below summarizes the ICT4D evolution:[7]

Issue // Phase ICT4D 0.0 ICT4D 1.0 ICT4D 2.0
Iconic technology PC database Telecentre Mobile phone, convergence
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.[8]

Theoretical background[edit]

[relevant? ]

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

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".[9] Information and Communication Technology is expected to fulfill these requirements and bring socio-economic and political transformation which result in a modern and developed society. This type of society is often referred to as the post-industrial society, the fifth Kondratiev, Information society, digital age and network society.

The major goal of ICT for Development is to utilize the benefits of technology for social transformation for goods.[10] The major goal of ICT for Development is to utilize the benefits of technology for social transformation for goods. Previously when such social transformations took place (e.g. industrial revolution), the result was derived from a combined effect of a powerful technology and effective policy and strategy.[11] In the case of ICT4D, this three-dimensional interplay has been depicted as a cube.[12] 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). ICT4D strategies and policies focus on accelerating development works, minimizing drawbacks and removing bottlenecks with the use of technology to meet goals. Generally, interventions are of two kinds: Positive Assessment (e.g. incentives, projects, financing etc.) that make existing opportunities more prominent and Negative Assessment (e.g. regulation and legislation, etc.) that controls and suppress negative developments(diagonal yellow-red dimension in Figure).[12]

ICT access and use[edit]

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

ICT development includes many types of infrastructure and services, ranging from telecommunications, such as voice, data, and media services, to specific applications, such as banking, education, or health, to the implementation of electronic government (e-government). Each of these types has its own trends that vary across countries and regions.

One of the most positive trends has been observed in voice communications. Thus, the proportion of mobile phone subscriptions in developing countries increased from about 30 percent of the world total in 2000 to more than 50 percent in 2004 and to almost 70 percent in 2007.[13] 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.[14] Only about 35 percent of the population in developing countries has access to the Internet (versus about 80 percent in advanced economies).[15]

Access to ICTs in the developing world has been framed through the concepts of digital divide and use / non-use. Market liberalization and competition as well as various regulatory and technical solutions are believed to be useful in closing the digital divide and ensuring the universal access to ICTs.[16] The general perception is that people who have access to ICT will benefit from it, and those who don't would not[citation needed]. Benefits include boundless information sharing, connectivity, participation in the global economy. The use of mobile phones as part of ICT4D initiatives shows some positive effects in improving access to information and services.[17] For example, the arrival of mobiles brought reduction in the variability of price and the amount of waste in the fishing system along the Kerala coast, India.[18] A study in Kenya identified innovation in mobile technologies for development,[19] in particular the success of M-PESA mobile banking through the partnerships between private and public sectors. Another analysis of mobile phone use in developing countries shows that the use of mobile phones improves access to information, helps to address market inefficiencies, and can be used in disaster relief.[20] In contrast, evidence from Ethiopia suggests that farmers use mobile phones to connect to those who are already in their social network, which limits the usability of mobile phones for wider information sharing and change in practices.[21] Those who don't have access to technology run the risk of being marginalized and bypassed.

Graph of ICT penetration per 100 inhabitants by International Telecommunication Union

The users and non-users of ICTs can be categorized into Non-Users, Indirect Users, Shared Users, and Owner-Use.[22]

  • Non-Users: individuals with no access to either ICTs or ICT-based information and services. Such individuals may still benefit from ICT4D via the spillover effect - situations when other users of ICT increase benefit for the whole community, including the non-users.
  • Indirect Users: individuals who do not have hands-on access themselves, but can gain access to digital information and services via direct users.
  • Shared Users: individuals who do not own the technology, but who can directly use ICTs owned by someone else (e.g., by friend, workplace, ICT business, community, etc.).
  • Owner-Users: individuals who own and use the technology.

One of the goals of ICT4D is to employ robust low-cost technologies that can be available for poor and low income communities around the world.

Short- and long-term negative effects of ICTs also need to be studied.[23]

Examples of specific technologies used in developing countries include:

ICTD hit for six[edit]

According to David Edelstein, the interim president and CEO of the Grameen Foundation, this is how transformational change may be achieved with ICTD.[29][30]

  1. Understand Local Needs
  2. Use Appropriate Technology
  3. Create Business Models
  4. Measure Social Impact
  5. Engage with private sector
  6. Innovate Constantly



Farmers in the developing countries use ICTs to access price information from national and international markets as well as connect to policy makers and other farmers.[31][32] 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. ICTs can also be used for training purposes[citation needed].

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.[21]

ICT4D initiatives in agriculture can be generally classified into direct interventions, when farmers are connected to information and opportunities that can directly improve their income or wellbeing, and indirect interventions – supportive, long-term programs that can improve established agricultural services over time through capacity building, research, and training.[33]

ICT4D not only strengthens agricultural production but also helps in market development. Thus it supports creating future opportunities for agricultural sector and the development of rural livelihoods.[34]

A document released by the World Bank's eTransform Africa project presents a summary of ICT application in agriculture in the African continent. The report includes a roadmap on ICT's application in farming, a list of African eAgriculture accomplishments called the Africa Scan, and agricultural case studies performed in countries such as Namibia and Egypt, which focuses on livestock production and irrigation efficiency, respectively.[35]

Climate change and environment[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[36]

In Africa, where 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.[37]

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.[38] 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.[38] 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.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

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.[43][44] 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.[45]

Government, Non-government and other organizations are encouraged to use ICT as a tool for protecting environment and developing sustainable systems that save natural resources, to implement green computing and to establish surveillance systems to forecast and monitor natural and man-made disasters.

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

  1. Environment surveillance: Terrestrial (earth, land, soil, water), ocean, climate and atmospheric surveillance, data collection, storage and record technologies, remote sensing, telemetric systems, geographic information systems (GIS) etc.
  2. Environment analysis: Different computational and processing tools are required to analyze the data collected from environment. Some of these tools are land, soil, water and atmospheric quality assessment tools, Tool for analyzing atmospheric conditions like GHG emissions and pollutants etc.
  3. Environment planning: Environment planning and policy formulation require analyzed data, information and decision support systems.
  4. Environment management and protection: Information and communication technologies for management and protection of environment include resource and energy conservation and management systems, GHG emission management and reduction systems and controls, pollution control and management systems etc. ICT can reduce its own environmental impacts by increasing system efficiency which ultimately reduce the overall negative impact on environment.
  5. 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.
  6. Environmental capacity building: ICT is used as a media to increase public awareness, development of environment professionals, and integrating environmental issues into formal education.

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

  • Integrated ecosystem monitoring, sensing and modelling.[46]


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.[47]

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.[48]

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.[49] 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,[50] 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.

As education is a key factor of socio-economic development, the education system of developing countries must be aligned with modern technology. ICT can improve the quality of education and bring better outcomes by making information easily accessible to students, helping to gain knowledge and skill easily and making trainings more available for teachers.[34]


ICTs can be a supportive tool to develop and serve with reliable, timely, high quality and affordable health care and health information systems and to provide health education, training and improve health research.[51]

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.[52] 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.[53]

E-government and 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."[54]

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.

The e-government action plan includes applications and services for ensuring transparency, improving efficiency, strengthening citizen relations, making need-based initiatives, allocating public resources efficiently and enhancing international cooperation.

Writing about ICTs 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.[55]

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.[56] 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.


  • Tourism: Tourism is the sector that has possibility of being benefited from ICT. Roger Harris is the first person to show the possible benefits the field can get utilizing ICT.[57][58] His work location was a remote place in Malaysia and he showed how a small tourism operation can be run there using internet. ICT can be an important medium for developing tourism market and improving local livelihoods.[59][60]
  • Reducing Gender Gap: According to the ITU, which is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, one of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is focused on gender equality. In 2013, Broadband Commission Working Group on Broadband and Gender released their global report which contained their estimation that there are currently 200 million fewer women online[61] compared to men. The ITU claims that ICT will play an important role in delivering both gender equality to narrow the growing gender gap. Based on their studies, evidence on the benefits that women can gain through ICT, especially with being empowered with information are increasing. "Access to ICTs can enable women to gain a stronger voice in their communities, their government and at the global level." "There is a growing body of evidence on the benefits of ICTs for women's empowerment, through increasing their access to health, nutrition, education and other human development opportunities, such as political participation."[62] ICT can also provide women new opportunities that involve sustainable livelihood (including ICT-based jobs) and economic empowerment once they get to fully utilize what ICT has to offer. One of ITU's projects that is related to this goal is the Women's Digital Literacy Campaign. ITU partnered up with non-government organization Foundation for the campaign. They have trained over one million unskilled women to use computers and ICT applications to open more opportunities in education and employment. In the hopes that newly developed skills and knowledge related to ICT will improve their livelihoods. According to ITU's case study... "The Campaign has demonstrated the power of digital literacy training to open the door to other essential skills needed to operate in a broadband environment, including financial literacy skills, as well as ICT-enabled career training. Such training enables women to set up online businesses, or to use broadband services, such as social networking sites, to enhance their ongoing livelihood and economic activity."
  • Indigenous populations: According to UNESCO, 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.[citation needed]. 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.[63] The goals of the UNESCO ICT4D Project for the Indigenous People are to preserve and manage cultural resources, to enable recovery of their cultural self-worth and dignity, and to train stakeholders to acquire greater mastery of ICT.[64]
  • Social Media: Social networking sites receive lots of attention in the Philippines, having over 30 million Filipino users on Facebook alone.[65] Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram see use in more than just socializing as the users tend to use the sites as a place of political discussion, protests, and several other social movements. The usage of social media tools to communicate with people across the world dominates the old school coffee table talk. Businessmen tend to opt for a brief Skype conference to investors abroad than to set personal meetings to save time and money.


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.[66]

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[67] 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[68] and are thus also meaningful in the rural arena.[69]

However, introducing ICTs in these areas is also most costly, as the following barriers exist:[70]

  • 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.[71]
  • 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.[71]

Another significant problem can be the selection of software installed on technology[72] – instructors trained in one set of software (for example Ubuntu[73]) 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.[74] 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.[75] 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."[76][77]

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.[78]

These negative impacts are observable but the platforms to identify, measure, analyze, and address them are insufficient. This is exacerbated by the idea that ICT only provides benefits to society. As new ICT practices are introduced, new challenges tag after them. However, conceiving policies to minimize the negative impacts requires time and resources. Conceptualization of effective and definite measures to counter these negative impacts is in the development stage as part of future priorities.[79]

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:[80]

  • 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.[81]

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)[82] and is growing every year. Communication, media and IT present opportunities for further growth and expansion.

Sustainable Development Goals[edit]

While ICT4D is not specifically included in the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals of UN, there are 6 targets under Goals 4, 5, 9 and 17 which reference to ICTs and technology. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also recognizes that "The spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies".[83]

Goal Number 4: Quality Education[edit]

E-learning system serves as leeway in educating learners through ICT. There are programs that are self-paced, available competitive college courses from known universities with certification, online competitions and labs which in turn act as tools for livelihood opportunities. There are also smart systems that analyze the learning pattern of the student which it uses in constructing individual learning plans as maximized pedagogy.[84]

Goal Number 5: Gender Equality[edit]

Access to ICT helps women in understanding the importance of their productive and reproductive roles in the society at the local community, government and global level. Women can be empowered as economic, social and political actors by providing new space and opportunity where they can contribute to the community. These opportunities can be in form of advocacy, ICT-based entrepreneurship or other community development activities through ICT.[85]

Goal Number 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure[edit]

ICT is a crucial tool in industrialization. In emerging information and knowledge societies, open access to academic research, online collaboration and optimization of ICT enable countries to provide infrastructures well-suited for knowledge-based societies such as power networks, transportation systems, water supplies and communication networks.[86]

Goal Number 17: Partnerships for the Goals[edit]

Ultimately, ICT plays the biggest role in SDG, although not specifically mentioned. But with the three pillars of sustainable development namely economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, it is no doubt needed in providing innovative and effective means of implementation in a global scale. It helps in enhancing international coordination, multi-stakeholder partnerships, data monitoring and accountability.[87]

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.[88]

Challenges in SDGs[edit]

However, there are a lot of challenges in implementing SDGs at it focuses on many aspects. Suggestions have been made on how the goals can be achieved at the desired timeline, such as decreasing cost in implementing ICT and increasing public awareness about ICT. Another hindrance is the hierarchy of organizations. There are reports that some agencies are treated as higher than the other, thus, making the development slower. Also, though there are a lot of talented leaders, not all of them are exposed to the real situation. The most contributing factor is that once they are pushed to do something, most individuals and institutions focus on their own sectors, thus, not being able to have a collective mind towards one goal. SDGs also have a huge territory; they focus on too many fields, making it slower for the development of ICT to happen. Though they focus on the most crucial needs of the people, the progression is not at par with their previous goals. SDGs have a long way to go with its goal to be reached by 2030. Improvements are still on its way but there are challenges that needs to be resolved to be able to move forward, bFy having a collective mind.[89]

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:[90]

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 [91] 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.[92] 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:[93]

  • 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.

Mainstreaming and sidestreaming[edit]

Mainstreaming ICTs means they should be understood as one among a number of tools seeking to achieve other development goals such as poverty alleviation, health, education of the MDG variety.[94] This tool pertains to the programmes crafted by ICT4D experts who have spearheaded ICT4D, and some have undergone various academic training from ICT4D recognized institutions (Chib&Harris Linking research to practice). Programmes that are developed by these experts are determined to have a social impact which are contributing to the development goals of MDGs.

On what is described as mainstreaming ICT is an implementation of various programmes by converging the techno-social activities that would contribute to address development goals. In the Philippines, the Open and Distance Education of the University of the Philippines Open University is one among in Asia that has successfully developed academic curriculum in information and communication science and has supported various ICT4D programmes in different government sectors such as agriculture and in local government units.

According to Richard Heeks, mainstreaming has its own dangers: losing focus for learning about ICT4D and downplay technological innovation are among them.[94] While these are theoretically true, the need of sidestreaming to support the development ICT4D programmes should be placed. Retaining and supporting specialist of ICT4D units or "sidestreaming" in variety of organization that involves ICT4D together with the mainstreaming of ICT4D resonates an effective structure towards development goals of MDGs.

Criticisms and challenges[edit]

Satellite Internet access via VSAT is a common form of connectivity in developing countries (Ghana, Ecamic project pictured)[95]

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.[96][97] 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.[98] This sentiment echoes a 2003 report by the World Bank.[99]

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.[100]

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.[97] 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.[101] Anriette Esterhuysen, an advocate for ICT4D and human rights in South Africa,[102] 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.[103]

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.[104]

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.[105] Establishing regional and national ICT strategies that commit to action is the first step towards creating effective solutions.[104]

A 2010 research report from the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre[106] 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)."[107] 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).

Myths of ICT4D

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.[108]

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.[108]
  • Myth 6: ICT undoes "rich getting richer." - Technology tends to amplify the inequalities in literacy rather than reduce them.[108] "Everyone knows that the hard part is actually doing the work necessary to accomplish a goal, not providing the technology."[109]
  • 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.[110]
  • Myth 9: Automated is cheaper and better - Where labor is cheap and populations are illiterate, automated systems are not necessarily preferable.[108] 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)[110] Kentaro Toyama mentioned some of the other deficiencies: human capacity; infrastructure; institutional capacity; 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[111]
  • 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."[110]

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.[112] 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.[112] 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.[112] 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.[112] 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.[112] 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.[112] 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![112] 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.[112] 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 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.[112] 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.[112] 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.

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."[105] 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.[113] 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."[113]

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.[114] 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."[114]

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.[115] 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.[116]

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.[117] 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.[118] 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.[118][119]
  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.[118]
  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.[118]
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 gaps – new development-oriented priorities[edit]

Shown below is a list of the 16 largest ICT4D gaps (as of 2016) arranged in a descending order according to the priority it receives. In an online article, Heeks states that ICT4D analyses tend to underplay its negative impacts.[120] The "Dark Side of ICT's" is placed 15th in the list - just a place away from the least prioritized ICT4D gap.[121]

  1. Environment – mitigation of climate change, weather early warning systems, minimization of e-waste.
  2. Sustainability – composed of economic prosperity, social infusion, and environmental sustainability.
  3. Poverty – focus more on poverty specifics such as policies, poverty reduction/ eradication programs and projects rather than generic ICT priorities.
  4. Development Finance – use of ICT to monitor aid flows and debts, mainstream banking and finance, improve tax system and taxation of ICT, ICT-enabled investments, e-remittances.
  5. Basic Need – able to prioritize the usage if ICT based on basic needs of the people using on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
  6. Economic Development: Growth, Jobs and the Digital Economy – intensifying an existing area of economic activity and extensive application of ICT to extend the range of economic activity.
  7. Development 2.0 – emphasis on 5 transformative shifts (1. Leave no one behind, 2. Put sustainable development at the core, 3. Transform economies, 4.Build peace, 5. Forge new global partnership).
  8. Accountability and Transparency – Free and open information must be monitored, evaluated and controlled in order to combat corruption specifically with public officials.
  9. Data Revolution – have 3 dominant aspects: Big development data, Open development data, Real Time development data.
  10. Cross Border Flows – supports immigrant and emigrant population, enable international trade, and investment.
  11. Peace and Security – uses of ICT in mainstream peace and security, across the cycle from insecurity through conflict to post-conflict reconstruction, reconciliation and peace building; from the micro of violence within households to the macro of regional warfare; and bringing in issues from application design and implementation to strategic and policy matters.
  12. Urban Development – support the inexorable growth, creation and implementation of urban strategies, facilitating urban planning, improving urban governance and design, ecosystems services and infrastructure.
  13. Resilience – need to form its own particular sub-domain of ICT4D activity.
  14. Inclusive Development – to do more than just address digital divides – and to engage with the breadth of inclusive development
  15. The Dark Side of ICT – costs and failures, development of a Cluedo piece-shaped labor market, the loss of work/life balance and growing stress, negative impacts of ICT use on health, learning and cognitive development especially among children
  16. Changing the Language and Worldview of ICT4D – An informatics label will allow WSIS, the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) and other ICT4D stakeholders to lay claim to the data revolution. Without this, the data revolution will drag attention and resources down its own potentially-isolated path.[122]

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.[123]

E-waste through improved design and recycling[edit]

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[edit]

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.[124]

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) + 10 Challenges[edit]

Many challenges emerged upon the implementation of WSIS + 10 in Geneva in 2014. The following issues have been addressed to proper implement future projects like Information Society beyond 2015 and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.[125]

  1. Human rights protection offline and online
  2. Women's empowerment and active participation in the society and its decision-making processes
  3. Youth engagement in the WSIS development agenda
  4. People with disabilities especially in developing countries and marginalized communities involvement in the framework by providing equity of access through human capacities and introduction of new ICT innovations
  5. Potential use of WSIS development-related strategies to improve the national economic status of a country by investing in ICTs, infrastructure, entrepreneureship and innovation
  6. Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) benefits from the current developments in technology
  7. Aid the technological gap between developed and developing countries and the skills gap between the rich and poor
  8. Help in reducing electronic waste to help preserve the environment

WSIS + 10 Beyond 2015 Priorities[edit]

Sustainable Development and Information Society are two factors considered as basis in establishing the priorities for WSIS + 10 Vision beyond 2015.[126]

  1. Protection of human rights as well as the address of gender issues, discrimination and violent actions
  2. Use of information and communication technology to promote WSIS development goals
  3. Include broadband and mobile services in the effort to enhance the utilization and trust of the vulnerable and marginalized population in the potentials of ICTs
  4. Provide assistive technologies and disability-inclusive development framework for people with disabilities
  5. Help in the countries’ economic growth by aiding the digital divide
  6. Promote online learning and the utilization of local communities such as libraries in accessing information
  7. Address security risks and promote cybersecurity and individual privacy
  8. Acknowledge the use of ICTs in business like e-commerce and address new issues in the digital economy
  9. Encourage WSIS stakeholders to be more responsible in their roles as well as to address and help in each other's weaknesses
  10. Promote Green IT and to help in spreading information about Climate Change

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,[127] 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.[128]

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.[129]

Applications in Philippines[edit]

(Based on excerpt from Mapping ICT4D by Noriel Tiglao Erwin A. Alampay) [10]

1. E-government / E-governance

In Philippines, most of the ICT4D works are done by the government and the e-governance projects are diverse.

The Department of Information and Communications technology or DICT foresee to build a technologically advanced, integrated, and digitally empowered Philippines that constantly provides responsive and accessible public services to Filipino citizens across the globe.

The main problems in the government services in the Philippines are the long lines, slow action, and inadequate processes. Today many government offices and organizations have already implemented different e-government procedures for accessible services, which they call "one stop shop". Below are different online procedures in the Philippines:

  • The PAG-IBIG/Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) offers online membership registration process, online payment facility, and short-term loan filing.
  • The Social Security System (SSS) offers online application membership.
  • The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has eReg System, which, you can register for Tax Identification Number (TIN).
  • The National Statistics Office eCensus is where you can request for documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, and death certificate). You can pay it through credit card, over-the-counter, or online banking. The requested documents will be delivered into your doorstep within 3–9 days after your payment.

Many e-governance projects are linked to other areas (i.e. health, learning, business, science, etc.) and different types of technology are used to implement them (e.g. web-based services, SMS, other forms of Management Information Systems, Local Area Network etc.).[130]

NCDA Board Resolution No. 13 Series 2008 on Web Accessibility

To promote equality when it comes to web accessibility, the National Council on Disability Affairs granted the Philippine Web Accessibility Group (PWAG) the right of becoming its deputy to assess the competency of government organization and NGO websites when it comes to web accessibility, especially for the disabled.[131] On one assessment conducted by PWAG, only a staggering 11 GO websites and 33 NGO websites passed their criteria on web accessibility. This resolution was released with the sign of the Deputy Executive Director of NCDA, Mateo A. Lee Jr.

To address this issue, NCDA released Board Resolution No. 13 that grants PWAG to conduct website assessments of NCDA's participating and member agencies and to enforce upon them the minimum requirements for the websites to become web accessible to the disabled.

The following actions were created to comply to the United Nations’ Article 9 regarding Accessibility, which states that people with disability should experience equality when it comes to access to information.[132] A list of offices whose web accessible sites were evaluated by PWAG are listed on their official site, which includes but are not limited to the following: the House of Representatives, the National Council on Disability Affairs, the Department of Health, the Commission on Elections, and the Department of Justice.

2. E-business

37 e-business applications running in Philippines are enlisted in different databases. Among them some notable applications are:

  • e-ticketing/SMS ticketing service:This service allows passengers to book and purchase tickets and allows ticketing agents to issue accommodations for Super Ferry voyage online. It also provides Easy Cards that is a pre-paid, re-loadable and refundable card for passengers.
  • Virtual Mall/Online Shop: There are many virtual malls that sell local product online for foreign customes (e.g. OFWs,, etc.) and some sites serves Filipinos living abroad to purchase local products for friends living in the Philippines (e.g.;
  • Export/Import Portals: EXPERTRADE is a trade portal and online community of Filipino exporters, local and international importers and traders that aims to expand the Filipino export industry.[130]

3. E-science

TV White Space and Free WiFi

In lieu with the drive for better Internet penetration as mandated by the Philippine Digital Strategy, 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.[133] 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.[134] 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.[135]

infoDev, a global multi-donor program in the World Bank Group that supports growth-oriented entrepreneurs through business incubators and innovation hubs,[136] 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.[135]

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:

  • capacity constraints
  • limited market linkages
  • lack of access to finance and unconducive regulations

Entrepreneurs who wishes to start and grow their businesses can seek support from business incubators who provide shared facilities that reduce the cost of setting up a business, business development services and mentoring that strengthen the management capacity of the entrepreneur, market linkages that result in more cost-effective supplies and a larger customer base, and financial services that cater to start-up enterprises. infoDev's Incubator Initiative, launched in 2002 with support from the Government of Japan, supports the incubation and growth of competitive entrepreneurs and SMEs through a global network of over 150 business incubators spanning 70 developing countries.[135]

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.[135]

These are elements that P. Clint Rogers observed in successful ICT4D projects in Africa:[137]

  • 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.[138]


Cambodia, one of the 6 countries comprising the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), has been actively participating in the development of the telecommunication infrastructure of the subregion. The GMS Economic Cooperation Program includes the Telecommunications Backbone as one of its 11 flagship projects.[139] This project focuses on the development of optical fiber network of the telecommunications systems of the GMS countries, and it is now largely completed through the aid of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and bilateral financing from Germany, the People's Republic of China, JICA and KOICA.[140]

Together with Lao PDR and Vietnam and through the funding of ADB, Cambodia participated in the Establishment of Backbone Telecommunications Networks Project-Phase I (Phase-I Backbone Project). A telecommunications sector policy study "GMS Telecommunications Sector Policy Formulation and Capacity Building", through the funding of ADB, preceded the project.[141]

As the Telecommunications Backbone comes to completion, Cambodia now focuses on another GMS project—the Information Superhighway Network (ISN).[141] The country is also taking part in development and poverty reduction programs through ICT applications.[142]

One of the strengths of Cambodia when it comes to ICT is the country's wireless connectivity. Theirs is the most developed compared with Lao PDR and Vietnam. The number of cellular phone subscribers in Cambodia is greater than the number of landline subscribers—the first in the world to achieve it.[140] As of May 2016, there are already 21.2 million mobile phone subscribers in the country.[143]

However, among the three countries mentioned, the Cambodian backbone is the least developed, which may be attributed to the low availability of electricity and the high generation cost. There is also a very low demand for eServices in the country.[140]

A Report on the ICT Status of Cambodia by the General Department of Information and Communications Technology[144]:
No Type of Licenses Licenses in Operation
1 International Telecommunication Gateway 3
2 Mobile Phone Services (2G/3G/4G) 8
3 Fixed Phone (Wire Line & WLL) 6
4 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) 22
5 Internet Service Provider 28
6 Tower Sharing 1
7 Submarine Optical Cable Infrastructure 1
8 National Optical Cable Infrastructure 3
9 Value Added Network 1
Total: 73


  • Mobile: 21.8M (as of June 2015)
  • Fixed: 363K Subs.
  • Internet: 5.9M (ASEAN rank: 8th)

DNS: 2563

Internet Cafe: 289 sites

Local TV Channels: 15

Local Radio Channels: 160

Total length of fiber optic backbone: 26,411 km

  • TC (State Owned): 1,600 km
  • CFOCN: 7,611 km
  • Viettel Cambodia: 17,200 km


  • GAIS : 165 km (UTP Cable)
  • PAIS: 366 km

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.[145]


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:[140]

School Net Thailand[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

IT 2010[edit]

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.[146]


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)[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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.

  • e-Kundasang
    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.


  • e-Farmasi
    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[edit]

  • 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.[147]


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.[148]

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.[148]

  • 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.[149][150]

  • 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.[151]

  • 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.[152][153]

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.[154] eLAC is based on a public-private sector partnership[155] 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[156]

2008-2010: eLAC2010 with 83 goals to be achieved during the 2008-2010 period[157]

2010-2015: eLAC2015 with 24 goals to be achieved during the period 2010-2015[158]

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.[154][159][160]


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).[118] It is conceptualized by the Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and was initiated in August 2008.[118]

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.[118]

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.[161]


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[162]

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.


ICT4Peace is an international foundation established in 2006 that utilizes ICT to improve crisis information management, provide humanitarian aid and promote peace. Before it became a foundation, it originated as a project of Daniel Stauffacher (Ambassador of Switzerland to the WSIS) to address the armed conflicts in many countries that undermines progress towards the Millennium Development Goals through ICTs. Stauffacher held a series of meetings that bore groundbreaking outcomes in advocacy, research and networking. The ICT4Peace Project then became ICT4Peace Foundation with Stauffacher as its chairman.

The following are the initiatives and programs of the foundation:

  • In-depth research on the role of ICT and information management in preventing, responding to and recovering from conflict (see report: )
  • Negotiation and adoption of Paragraph 36 of the WSIS Tunis Commitment.
  • Setting up of ICT4Peace Foundation including website and Contributions to the publication by the Crisis Management Initiative: and
  • Establishment of an ICT4Peace Informal Policy advisory Board under the Chairmanship of President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland:
  • Launching of partnership between DESA Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and ICT4Peace Foundation: ICT4Peace Foundation appointed as leader of GAID community of practice of ICT4Peace.
  • Expert meeting: under the Chairmanship of President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, a group of experts from the UN, international civil society, business and academia met in March 2007 to identify key challenges of and solutions to existing ICT mechanisms on conflict management. Launching of collaborative research of best practices by CMI, ISCRAM, ICT4Peace Foundation, Interpeace Alliance.
  • Launch of ICT4Peace inventory wiki: A global database of ICT in crisis management, humanitarian aid and peacebuilding (
  • Launch of partnership between the ICT4Peace Foundation and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) through the Global Symposium +5 ‘Information for Humanitarian Action’ event and the ICT4Peace: An International Process for Crisis Management process ( )
  • Meeting at the United Nations, New York on 15 November 2007 to launch the ICT4Peace initiative and introduce it to an international range of stakeholders. Presentation of a report on the UN's Crisis Information Management capacities and capabilities at the United Nations in New York on 8 July 2008.
  • ICT4Peace Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre on 29 August 2008
  • High-level meeting to discuss Interim Report: Stocktaking of UN Crisis Information Management Capabilities, held on 7 November 2008 at the United Nations in New York (supported by Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2008)
  • Training programme with the Cairo Regional Center for Training on Conflict Resolution & Peacekeeping in Africa (CCCPA) on using ICTs for peacekeeping operations. Click here for Memorandum of Understanding between the CCCPA and the ICT4Peace Foundation.

See also[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Wireless Networking in the Developing World (PDF book)

External links[edit]