ICT4D 2.0: Where Next for ICTs and Development?

Are we seeing a phase change in use of ICTs for international development?

The “ICT4D 2.0 Manifesto” argues that we are; moving from phase 1 (late-1990s to late-2000s) to phase 2 (late-2000s on).

The paper outlines some of the emerging characteristics of ICT4D 2.0, based on research from the University of Manchester’s Centre for Development Informatics, and other sources.  Feel welcome to comment and add your own observations to this list:

a)    New Hardware Priorities: a need for innovation around low-cost, broad-reach terminals, telecommunications, and power.  A need to bring the hardware success story of the last decade – mobiles – even more centre stage.  The paper also discusses implications of broadband, cloud computing, and individualisation of hardware devices.

b)    New Application Priorities: the growth of participatory content creation, and the use of ICTs to create new income and employment for the world’s poor.  The paper also discusses implications of FOSS, and the growth of applications to address urban poverty, security, economic growth, and climate change.

c)     New Innovation Models: the growing need for – and potential of – innovation that moves beyond top-down, laboratory-type models.  This includes collaborative (para-poor) models that work alongside poor communities.  It also means greater attention to the grassroots (per-poor) innovation that is arising from within those communities.  The paper also discusses the new innovation intermediaries that are emerging in private and NGO sectors.

d)    New Implementation Models: based on the limitations of ICT4D 1.0 projects, there will be greater emphasis on sustainability, scalability and ICT4D project evaluation.  This will necessitate more process than blueprint approaches to implementation, and better techniques for closing design—reality gaps.  The paper also discusses new funding mechanisms and new organisation forms that are increasingly seen.

e)    New Worldviews: effective ICT4D 2.0 policies, strategies and projects will require “tribrid” champions.  They must understand enough about the three domains of computer science, information systems, and development studies to draw key lessons and to interact with and manage domain professionals.  Training programmes and working group formation must reflect this need.

The paper also discusses the need to move beyond ICT4D mainstreaming, to plan ICT4D policy structure and process as much as content, to engage with the growing “Development 2.0” agenda, and to shape ICT4D research priorities accordingly.

Above all, it argues, ICT4D 2.0 will require a new worldview of the poor; no longer characterising them as passive consumers but, instead, seeing them relate to ICT as active producers and active innovators.