The Best Practices in the Use of ICTs in Development Are…

How are advances in communications technologies driving transformational change in development? United Methodist Communications recently published a discussion paper to help answer this question and to give ICT practitioners a list of the best practices in the use of ICTs for development. You can download the paper for free here.

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First, rising access to modern technologies is for the first time connecting millions of people around the world. In many parts of the world, access to a mobile phone is the first connection to a modern communications technology, leapfrogging over landlines, computers, and other technologies that preceded mobile phone access in the developed world.

As noted by a United Nations Development Programme report, no other technology has found its way into the hands of so many people in so many places around the world as quickly as the mobile phone.

Second, the connectivity this provides is transforming the way many communities gain access to information and services. Studies have linked higher rates of mobile phone access to increased economic growth, and mobile technologies are beginning to positively impact human development. In the agricultural field, a growing number of studies are demonstrating some level of economic gain among farmers who use mobile phones to gain greater access to market data.

For millions of people in countries like Kenya and the Philippines, banking through mobile devices is connecting households to formal banking services for the first time. And around the world, citizens and medical professionals are using their mobile phones for a range of services, from text messages that can promote maternal health to mobile data collection and other support for health workers in remote areas.

This discussion paper captures best practice in the use of mobile phones and other low-cost communications technologies through a series of interviews with experts and practitioners. Key lessons learned include:

  1. It’s about people, not technology. “Keeping the big picture in mind, and the challenges you’re looking to help people overcome, reminds you to stay focused,” says Ken Banks, founder of FrontlineSMS, an open source software used to distribute and collect information via text message.
  2. Understand the local environment. “Engage with the project participants who will use the technology, and with the community that will be served. Learn their issues and their needs so that you can design a technology solution that fits,” says Kristin Peterson, former CEO of Inveneo, a non-profit providing ICT support to organizations working in underserved communities.
  3. Use appropriate tools. It’s critical to understand the environment you’re designing for—a lesson I would have been well served to learn before my mission to Angola. Ask yourself: Does the technology need to be ruggedized to protect against heat, dust or humidity? Is there a ready power supply, and is it stable? Is the technology affordable, and can it be locally maintained?
  4. Use iterative project planning cycles. “Our early prototypes often fail, but in a way that allows us to iterate and refine our ideas based upon feedback from real users,” says Sean Hewens of the philanthropic arm of the human-centered design firm IDEO.org.
  5. Build in monitoring & evaluation from the start.  “Monitoring can help you establish a framework through which you ask: What is my program trying to achieve, and what are the small steps I’ll measure along the way to ensure I’m on the road to achieving my project goal?” says Linda Raftree, Special Advisor on ICT and Monitoring & Evaluation at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Interested in discussing this paper on Twitter? Just use the hashtag #ICT4Dbp


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Developing an ICT Hub model for the rural tech community in Kenya

A focus group discussion in Mombasa conducted by iHub ResearchICT Hubs growth across Africa has so far been seen as a nexus point for economic growth and ‘techprenuership’ development in Africa. In addition, these innovation spaces can be viewed as a catalyst for socio-economic development through creation of technology-led entrepreneurs and youth employment. In Kenya, it is evident that majority of the ICT Hubs […]
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Get involved in the Agri-Hack Championship!

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). From 4 to 8 November 2013, CTA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Rwanda, will organize an international conference on ICT for Agriculture […]
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Innovative ICT-mediated activities for people, profit and planet

Abstract Purpose – Solutions to complex environmental problems rely on the innovative knowledge and expertise of many professions whose members accept their responsibilities towards the environment. The study described here canvases information systems (IS) professionals for their perspectives, knowledge and expertise within the domains of Green IT and Green IS. Design/methodology/approach – Following a review of the Green IT and IS literature, two topics were identified for a Q-study conducted among IS professionals: topic 1 focussed on which technologies, systems and applications offer the greatest opportunity in solving environmental problems, and topic 2 on what sets of issues affect these green opportunities. Activity Theory was used to interpret the factors emerging from the Q-study. Findings – Three categories of activities were identified in topic 1 involving ICT support for “teleworking and teleconferencing”, “monitoring, optimising, and modelling” and “influencing human understanding and behaviour”. The topic 2 responses were quite varied. Research limitations/implications – A Q-study is both subjective and exploratory, not seeking consensus but rather the breadth of opinion on a topic. The findings of topic 1 indicate three directions for future research and topic 2 identified many issues to consider in pursuing Green outcomes. Practical implications – The three topic 1 categories of activities identify practical “green” applications of ICT. Social implications – The varied issues identified from topic 2 reveal the interconnection of environmental projects with economic and social issues. Originality/value – Following this study of IS professional the authors call on other professions to apply the expertise of their respective fields to the environmental cause. Go to Source

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Co-creating a SMART Rwanda, SMART Africa and SMART World

By Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT for Rwanda

Rwanda is steadily moving towards its vision of becoming an information-rich and knowledge-based economy and society, and an ICT hub in the region. This ambition is reflected in our Vision 2020, the subsequent mid-term economic development and poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS II), and the ICT Sector Strategic Plan 2013-2018.

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5 Examples of Sustainable Public Internet Access Programs

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Public libraries exist in nearly every country and culture as institutions committed to facilitating access to information. With the right policies and support, libraries can serve as cost-effective, sustainable hubs for universal internet access. Their government-funded operations are typically more stable, and are less subject to short-term timelines that affect many other projects. By offering internet access through public libraries, all people, regardless of their economic status or location, are able to access information that will improve lives. Read more

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