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.


5 thoughts on “ICT4D 2.0: Where Next for ICTs and Development?

  1. As we have come to expect from Richard, a thoughtful and provocative article, consistent with my view that the development community should move towards e-transformation at the grassroots levels and exploit open and collaborative forms of innovation.

    My concern is twofold:

    First, how we should bridge the divide between IS/CS/ICT specialists on the one hand, and mainstream development practictioners on the other? This divide remains deep, and is not helped by disciplinary blinders, bureuacratic turfs, or the language used by ICT specialsits. This gap is not just educational. I tried to deal with this gap in a development instituiton (World Bank) for years but the move to a “second phase” is still far ahead of us.

    Second, the paper gives the impression that telecenters epitomize the technology of the 1st phase, while the mobile epitomizes the second. Not sure this is good characterization since telecenters are just emerging as national movements in a few countries and development agenices like the World Bank have hardly invested in them or leveraged them for their real potential. I hope aid agencies would not read this as a (premature) annoucement of the death of telecenters. It is popular to look to latest technologies like mobiles as silver bullets. Anyway, telecenters are not a technology per se, but an institutional innovation to provide communal centers for access to knowledge, learning and capacity building, and – to use your language – to combine pro-poor, para-poor and per-poor innovations.

    Congrats on a provocative paper!

  2. Thank you for a document that inspires critical thinking and reflection on what ICT4D 2.0 is, but mostly on what it can be. Three points to contribute to the discussion:

    a) On the Research Priorities for ICT4D 2.0, it would be useful to consider also ‘New appropriation mechanisms’ as a way of exploring innovative educational or instructional methods, more inclusive for currently marginalized groups (i.e. disabled) and responsive to the wants/needs of new generations of users. These new ICT appropriation/education mechanisms could act as the backbone for the new technologies, new applications, new models and viewpoints that are emerging, and contribute to their actual use in developing country contexts.

    b) A factor that would be also useful to consider as part of the figure 3: Good Practice for ICT4D 2.0 Implementation, is flexibility to adapt and respond to changing developing contexts. This would include the ability of the project (of its implementation process, design and/or team) to adapt and respond to externalities –from natural events to the emergence of new or more cost effective technologies, to leadership changes, among others.

    c) Finally, a pending challenge regarding partnerships for implementing ICT4D 2.0 is more effective inter-donor collaboration and articulation of (donor) funding agendas. Although some joint initiatives are emerging, much remains to be done. This coordination is key to avoid duplication of efforts and foster collaboration among ICT4D practitioners in the field.

    Thanks again for a great document!

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