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A LITERATURE REVIEW
Catherine Nyaki Adeya, PhD
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This review was done for, and with funding from, the IDRC’s Acacia Initiative.
Table of Contents Acknowledgements..........................................................................................................iii Introduction......................................................................................................................1 As an illustration, Castells (1999) examines a profile of a new world, centred on multinational corporations, global financial markets and a highly concentrated system of technological research and development, which may not be highly relevant to this review. It is significant however that the system he envisages allows linkages with everything that is valuable according to dominant values and interests, while disconnecting everything that is not valuable, or becomes devalued. The system has a concurrent capacity to include and exclude people based upon a capacity to network, and this is where the poor in developing countries suffer from exclusion.........................1 The Concepts of ICTs and Poverty..................................................................................2 ICTs and Some Related Issues........................................................................................2 Chowdhury (2000) writes that ICTs encompass technologies that can process different kinds of information (voice, video, audio, text and data) and facilitate different forms of communications among human agents, among humans and information systems, and among information systems. They are about capturing, storing, processing, sharing, displaying, protecting, and managing information. Duncombe and Heeks (1999) simplify the definition by describing ICTs as an “electronic means of capturing, processing, storing and disseminating information”. ...........................................................................2 In this review, the terms IT and ICTs will be used nearly synonymously and in a somewhat broad sense. The terms designate the information processing interaction between providers and users of information and also the development and application of information-processing systems that may not be regarded as part of the development of telecommunications/telematics per se. It is important to emphasize that these technologies only provide new mechanisms for handling an already existing resource, namely information. .........................................................................................................2 Mansell & Wehn (1998) focus on how ICTs can be harnessed for purposes of meeting development goals. There is one chapter in the publication specifically on the uses of ICTs when poverty is pervasive. They warn that if poor countries implement investment strategies that emulate the ‘one person – one telephone – one Internet access point’ model that is predominant in the West, frustration will be rife. In addition, they advance the view that there is little to be gained from access to global or local resources if the skills to select, interpret and apply the information are absent or poorly developed through the population. Consequently, they suggest it is important for poor countries to develop models for ‘access’ and ‘information content’ because the capacity to generate and share information about local resources is as important as access to distant digital information. Examples of how this has been done are available throughout this review, but some practical examples can be found in Addo-Dankwa (2002), CICEANA (2002) and Delgado et.al. (2002). ...............................................................................................3 ICTs and Collective Access Points .................................................................................4 ICTs and Development.....................................................................................................6 Poverty and Some Related Issues...................................................................................8 The Relationship between ICTs and Poverty.................................................................10 Old ICTs ........................................................................................................................12 New ICTs ......................................................................................................................13 Case Studies on ICTs and Poverty................................................................................16 ICTs and Poverty Reduction Issues...............................................................................21 ICTs and Selected Thematic Areas................................................................................23 ICTs and Agriculture.......................................................................................................23 i
ICTs, Culture and Governance.......................................................................................24 ICTs and Education........................................................................................................28 ICTs and Health.............................................................................................................30 ICTs and Gender............................................................................................................31 Concluding Remarks .....................................................................................................34 Recommendations for Further Research .......................................................................36 Bibliography...................................................................................................................39
Acknowledgements iii .
The area of ICTs and poverty is relatively new. are crosscutting in nature. such as gender and governance for instance. Castells (1999) examines a profile of a new world.1. It is significant however that the system he envisages allows linkages with everything that is valuable according to dominant values and interests. This perspective is in line with Barlow’s (1998) commentary that Africa (discussed as a unit) should skip industrialism entirely and leap directly into the information era. one of the biggest ironies of the information age is that the rich get their information almost free. the concepts of ICTs and poverty can be assigned different senses. For this reason. This thesis is also evident in Chowdhury (2000) who says that some sceptics still do not see any role for ICTs in efforts aimed at poverty alleviation. The argument on whether ICTs result in exclusion or inclusion has been taken up by Braga (1998) and Brown (2001). health and gender. governance. It is only in the last decade 1 This is the process of expanding human capabilities and access to opportunities in social. From a definitional perspective. which may not be highly relevant to this review. while disconnecting everything that is not valuable. the review explores the connection between ICTs and the human development dimensions of agriculture. and this is where the poor in developing countries suffer from exclusion. Introduction In 1996. global financial markets and a highly concentrated system of technological research and development. As an illustration. This literature review will reveal whether his sentiments are still true today. In his view. According to Braga (1998) some believe that ICTs have and will contribute to even wider economic divergence between developing and developed countries. In his words “the poor can’t eat high-speed Internet access. while the poor have to pay dearly for it. (UNDP 2002: Kenya Human Development Report: 2001:2) 1 . there is the recognition however that some of these dimensions. The system has a concurrent capacity to include and exclude people based upon a capacity to network. This conclusion is shared by Hudson (2001) who says the potential for ‘leapfrogging’ lies in the use of wireless terrestrial and satellite technologies. Wresch wrote that “the poor are excluded from much of the world’s information and no one has even begun to outline a solution to the problem” (1996:58). The notion of exclusion is thus an important consideration in some of the literature in this review. In so doing. centred on multinational corporations.1Given the wide scope of this concept. or becomes devalued. Nevertheless. of course”. Issues of social inclusion and exclusion are just one dimension of the range of issues that a review of the nature of the relationship between ICTs and poverty has to highlight. Others include questions on the linkage between ICTs and the concept of human development. in the case for instance of the price poor people have to pay to make a simple telephone call. culture. others believe that ICTs can be mechanisms that enable developing countries to ‘leapfrog’ stages of development. economic and political arenas and therefore the overall improvement in the quality of life. This view is consistent with Brown’s (2001) argument that there is still a lot of scepticism with regard to whether ICTs can reduce poverty in the developing countries. education. the review examines the conceptual definitions of these terms. An example of this is provided by Kibati (1999) who described ‘a cost model that contrasts GSM and CDMA networks’.
and other related information and communication activities. commercial information providers. and among information systems. media and broadcasting. it is difficult to find a concise review that incorporates both terms. It is not uncommon to find definitions of ICTs that are synonymous with those of information technology (IT). while the next section evaluates the relationship between ICTs and poverty in some detail. telecommunications equipment and services. processing. 1996). Section 4 then presents some case study literature on ICTs and poverty.that it has attracted attention at the level of writing. video. education.linked by a vast array of technical protocols (Mansell and Silverstone. namely information. storing and disseminating information”. The Concepts of ICTs and Poverty ICTs and Some Related Issues By definition. storing. ICTs cover Internet service provision. For example. Foster defines IT as 'the group of technologies that is revolutionizing the handling of information' and embodies a convergence of interest between electronics. computing and communication (Drew and Foster. text and data) and facilitate different forms of communications among human agents. processing. information technology equipment and services. Duncombe and Heeks (1999) simplify the definition by describing ICTs as an “electronic means of capturing. protecting. Most studies that have been done in poor countries came about through the support of external donors concerned about poverty alleviation. libraries and documentation centres. network-based information services. culture. In this review. Given such considerations. They are about capturing. 1999). ICTs are embedded in networks and services that affect the local and global accumulation and flows of public and private knowledge. This section is followed by an assessment of literature on ICTs and poverty reduction from the perspective of development in Section 5. the terms IT and ICTs will be used nearly synonymously and in a somewhat broad sense. 2 . as well as some related pertinent issues. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Section 7 has some concluding remarks and the last section gives recommendations for further research. Chowdhury (2000) writes that ICTs encompass technologies that can process different kinds of information (voice. displaying. the review is divided into the following sections: Section 2 examines the concepts of poverty and ICTs. sharing. ICTs include electronic networks – embodying complex hardware and software . health and gender. The focus of Section 6 is ICTs and a selection of thematic areas that include agriculture. Thus. among humans and information systems. and managing information. 1994). and who had no clear outlines on what to implement. The terms designate the information processing interaction between providers and users of information and also the development and application of information-processing systems that may not be regarded as part of the development of telecommunications/telematics per se. This is quite an expansive definition (ECA. It is important to emphasize that these technologies only provide new mechanisms for handling an already existing resource. audio.
integrated information infrastructures. ICTs have the potential of helping the poor to acquire literacy. interpret and apply the information are absent or poorly developed through the population. there has to be the simultaneous acceleration of the use of high-tech and low-tech information services.Mansell & Wehn (1998) focus on how ICTs can be harnessed for purposes of meeting development goals. Barlow (1998) believes that common perceptions of the potential of the digital age are limited by the habits of mind one develops in an industrial society. (Wilson: 1996). they suggest it is important for poor countries to develop models for ‘access’ and ‘information content’ because the capacity to generate and share information about local resources is as important as access to distant digital information. world-class channels. frustration will be rife. At the same time. policy makers must 3 .al. The author gives examples of where ICTs can play a significant role such as in the creation of jobs and in the reduction of distance. capable of carrying the digitized content that now races through the world's financial systems. The basis of this argument is weak however since Barlow has no empirical evidence to support his assertion. no single tool can solve a global problem. which has such complex and multiple causes. apart from his experiences in the countryside of a developed country. Examples of how this has been done are available throughout this review. the author points out that it would be preferable if the labour-force were educated in this information age. They warn that if poor countries implement investment strategies that emulate the ‘one person – one telephone – one Internet access point’ model that is predominant in the West. The author acknowledges that the problem of poverty alleviation is complex. CICEANA (2002) and Delgado et. to create truly national. (2002). There is one chapter in the publication specifically on the uses of ICTs when poverty is pervasive. In essence. However. but some practical examples can be found in Addo-Dankwa (2002). Similar sentiments are shared by Mansell & Wehn (1998). according to this publication. Most of these people are found in Africa and the developing world in general. These habits are different for those who have grown up in poverty with no television sets for instance to shape their world view. and the availability of institutions that promote knowledge creation and dissemination. Significantly. they advance the view that there is little to be gained from access to global or local resources if the skills to select. the existence of an educated labour-force and consumers. In addition. This contention puts into perspective a major challenge faced by policy-makers in Africa in efforts intended to develop strategies that can bring the information revolution to the continent. Braga (1998) builds a case that concludes that the countries that are better positioned to thrive in the new economy are those that can rely on: widespread access to communication networks. such as. Consequently. poverty. Chowdhury (2000) presents the position taken by realists that in an increasingly global village. He notes that many sceptics have not seen the role of ICTs in efforts intended to alleviate poverty and bring food security to developing countries. Brown (2001) argues that ICTs are simply tools. marketable skills and so on. However. In addition. educational institutions and business networks. Efficient production systems and physical infrastructure are a few of the necessities. This may suggest that developing countries are at a disadvantage in comparison to developed countries. Chowdhury (2000) asserts that “ICTs do not have any more to do with poverty and food security in the developing countries than rain dances have to do with rain”. there is need to nurture the development of highly sophisticated.
On the other hand. in projects initiated by governments. including Benjamin (2000 and 2001). a lot of emphasis has been put on the concept of community centres as a strategy for implementation. (1999). international donors.al. Dahms (1999). Jensen (1998). instead of demonstrating practical solutions to the problem. He argues that. Delgadillo & Borja (1999). Gomez et. there are a number of studies that propose telecentres as a method of access to ICTs and as a solution to access difficulties in rural areas and in regions mainly occupied by the poor. In this respect. Hudson (2001). If this is not done. and of assisting in providing universal access to both telephony and other forms of ICTs. African entrepreneurs in Senegal and Ghana did not wait for government action to utilise the benefits of this revolution. In the author’s view. He assesses two types of telecentres: type A. Anderson et. Instead. Benjamin (2001). micro enterprise 4 . Benjamin & Dahms (1999). The following are examples of contributions from some of these authors. Benjamin (2000) notes that there has been great interest in using telecentres to provide access to ICTs. Mayanja (2001). Robinson (1998). Wilson cites the poor state of the telecommunications sector in most African countries. the author notes that African telephone companies are far from unprofitable (average revenue per main telephone line was US$1225 compared with US$735 for the world as a whole). Panda & Chaudhary (2001) and Sagna (2001). The author gives some examples of ‘good news’ coming out of Africa in response to these challenges from the information revolution. In his presentation. Lamoureux (1999). al. ICTs and Collective Access Points Adebgola (1998) argues that deliberate steps should be taken to make sure rural communities have access to ICTs.carefully address the information needs of the vast majority of their populations with low per capita incomes. With reference to education. and community organizations. Opoku-Mensah (1998). he reviewed various initiatives throughout Africa. On the negative side. Akakpo & Fontaine (2001). Latchem & Walker (2001). In this respect. in South Africa. Butcher (1998) states that practical examples of the use of new technologies tend to reinforce the notion of the expanding gap between the rich and the poor. ICTs serve only to perpetuate greater economic and educational marginalization. He suggests that more resources should be spent on opening up access to marginalized communities in innovative and cost-effective ways. Although Butcher (1998) purported to show that there has been a lot of emphasis on community centres to harness ICTs in South Africa. (1999). These projects are viewed as a means of addressing the lack of ICTs throughout Africa. it appears to be a result of poor technical and financial management and other inefficiencies on the part of telephone companies which leads to the question of how to best use the revenues generated by the sector. They include Ernberg (1997). otherwise. Fuchs (1997). the so-called digital-divide will just widen. Holmes (1999). Butcher (1998) is centred on education in South Africa as a key developmental activity. Aranda & Fontaine (2001). Fuchs (1998). Benjamin (2000). Jensen & Esterhuysen (2001). the private sector. who are mostly rural based. in order to harness the potential of ICTs. they created their own commercial Internet access businesses. This argument can be supported by the various publications on telecentres in Africa. He does not give any clear evidence of this which he suggests need to be researched based on the many ‘rhetoric’ statements and anecdotal evidence. The approach suggested is that of ‘infocommunes’ to help to overcome some of the impediments caused by the weak infrastructural base of ICTs in the developing world.
2001). service providers and users. The author’s basic argument is that the focus should be on people. bigger. Fontaine (2001) describes the AMIC@s in Asuncion. Of the 14 case studies. Uganda (Opoku-Mensah. in support of their national development objectives can best harness ICTs. and type B. Howard (2001) describes the Daimler Chrysler Distance Learning Support Centre in Maseru. and Darkwa. There is also a chapter describing the work of the Acacia programme in relation to the development of African telecentres. This could be viewed as a more specific contribution that flowed from Benjamin & Dahms’s (1999) basic description of the role of telecentres in development. In reference to the question of how African countries. 60% of the 5 . Mozambique: P. Dahms. Mayanja (2001) describes the Nakaseke Multipurpose Community Centre. Uganda. 1998. most of the specific case studies of telecentres are from South Africa (Benjamin 2000 and 2001). unless there is participatory communication and training methodologies. no lessons have been learnt from negative past experiences of technology transfer that did not benefit local people. 1999. little attention has been paid to conceptual frameworks or to guidelines for ICT utilization. seven are from poor countries. The IDRC is mentioned as the major player in this initiative and the telecentre model is one of the cornerstones of the IDRC’s Acacia programme. He notes the need for clear strategies for subsidizing Internet services. Ghana. 2001) and Ghana (Owen Jr. shared access and public access facilities in rural areas. • • • • • Evidently. Aranda & M. The specific contributions from the developing countries are: • • South Africa: P. Latchem & Walker (2001) edited one of the only volumes bringing together various telecentre case studies in supporting educational and community development from both rich and poor Commonwealth countries. Uganda: M. such as telecentres. Lesotho. ICTs will not be useful for rural development. Mayanja. Panda & S. Gaster (2001) describes pilot telecentres projects. Benjamin (2001) describes the Gaseleka Telecentre in Northern Province. India: S. Based on his knowledge of rural telecentres. In an earlier paper before telecentres were widely developed in poor countries. Mozambique. It is situated in a poor area that had been ravaged by war and that had a lot of its infrastructure destroyed. Anderson (1999) argues that in the rush to "wire" developing countries. Ernberg (1997) simply wanted to know whether universal access can be achieved through Multipurpose Community Telecentres and whether it would be viable for business. Chaudhary (2001) describes Telelearning Centres in India. Lesotho: L. donor-funded telecentres. If this is not done. 1999. Paraguay: S. Latchem & Walker.telecentres. operators. which include Paraguay. Jensen (1998) argues for greater awareness among decision-makers at the highest levels and for the establishment of national ICT forums made up of regulators. India and South Africa. Akakpo & M. Ghana: J. The Nakaseke Multipurpose Community Centre in Uganda is one of the most widely written about (Mayanja. The aim was to provide access information and communication resources through ICTs in a poor rural community. 2001). Thus. Fontaine (2001) describes the Community Learning Centres in the country. organizations and processes rather than on the technologies themselves.
it even provides a ‘recipe’ on how to ‘create’ a telecentre in the ‘The Community Telecentre Cookbook for Africa: Recipes for Self-Sustainability’ (Jensen & Esterhuysen. telephones. there are no studies that openly acknowledge failures. Another success is that there have been “a lot of useful experiences” derived from international partnerships. However. There are 12 AMIC@s in Asuncion (Paraguay). how they are doing so is not discussed. it is a collaborative initiative launched in 1997 by the Municipality of Asuncion and USAID. Most are disguised under the cover of the phrase. the pilot telecentres from Mozambique (Gaster. and to make the public better informed and engaged in democratic processes. Significantly. ‘lessons learnt’. The author acknowledges that there are many ideas for self-sustainability beyond this period. Initial set-up costs were drawn from USA’s Universal Service Fund. while the running costs have largely not been a problem due to good management. 2001) is an example an aspiration towards self-sustainability. A specific case study can be drawn from Aranda & Fontaine’s (2001) description of the AMIC@s in Asuncion (Paraguay). The running costs of some of the other telecentres from Africa are an essential point of interest. ICTs and Development In most case studies of ICTs and development. ITU. Others are Delgadillo & Borja’s (1999) lessons on telecentres from Latin America and the Caribbean. In this regard. The author notes that some of the successes have been that local leadership has great interest making the MCT a sustainable reality. erratic power supply and restricted accommodation. they are intended to give poor communities access to ICTs so they can share the benefits of these technologies and have access to lifelong learning. Additionally. 2001) are fully funded by IDRC’s Acacia programme for a four year period. In general. UNESCO and DANIDA) and the remaining 40% from the local community to cover maintenance and staff salaries. telecommunication services and Internet access charges). poor telecommunications infrastructure. but these are not listed or discussed. it is important to take a ‘cautionary’ perspective 6 . the centres are meant to decentralize systems and services of the municipality. running water and rent (40% of the operating costs of the centre). Some of these are issues that should have been taken into consideration at the planning stage and therefore should not be viewed as an unexpected constraint. communication and learning’. Therefore. the establishment of good local connections and trust. The constraints have included high illiteracy rates. 2001). The AMIC@ in English refers to ‘municipal classrooms for information. Lamoureux (1999) on telecentres in Latin America. The remaining 30% for general administration comes from fees charged to the users. The Gaseleka Telecentre in South Africa (Benjamin. Holmes (1999) is based on a gender analysis of telecentre evaluation methodology. and implemented through the Learnlink project of the Academy for Educational Development in Washington DC. in evaluating these studies.operating costs come from donors (IDRC. but little has been done to follow and implement them. There are contributions on experiences gained in developing telecentres in Latin America including Robinson’s (1998) analysis from Mexico. while 30% of the costs is met through partnerships with private companies (equipment upgrades and replacements. The municipality pays for electricity.
the poor will reap the fullest benefits of ICTs only when they know and control both the technology and its related know-how. they must understand the existing information systems of the poor. ‘reaping the full benefits of IT adoption and diffusion requires full understanding of IT applications. It appears that the slow development of some aspects of ICTs in many African countries has largely been a consequence of poor technical and financial management (and other inefficiencies) on the part of the telecommunications sector (Lefebvre & Lefebvre. Among his priorities for the development agenda are: the poor need knowledge to access. It is only with this full understanding that one can then ask the following questions: • • • How can we promote and facilitate the introduction and implementation of ICTs? How can we accelerate ICT diffusion in the various sectors of the economy? How can we assess the impacts of ICTs? Therefore. the poor need access to new. The author’s assessments six years ago are still relevant today. They noted that it might therefore be important to assess the adoption and diffusion of ICTs in key sectors of the economies of African countries. diffusions may be difficult to measure without proper awareness of the current realities on the ground. Considering the fact that ICT environments in most African countries are still developing. assess and apply existing information and need resources for action more than they need access to new information. their potential and a readiness to change’. Heeks (1999) asked: “Can information and communication technologies (ICTs) help to alleviate poverty in low-income countries?” His study attempts to answer that question and provides a theoretical framework for empirical studies in this area. locally-contextualized information more than access to existing information from an alien context. Heeks suggests that ICTs play a role mainly as communications technologies rather than as informationprocessing or production technologies. the information needs of the poor may be met by more informal information systems than by formal ICT-based systems. As Lefebvre and Lefebvre said from their research conducted in (OECD) countries. prior to this.as there is the danger that some of the sources romanticize the potential of ICTs in areas such as poverty alleviation. Access to information and knowledge are considered key enablers in poverty reduction. Although. O’Farrell (2001) shares Heek’s (1999) belief that before one can advocate for the development of ICTs among the poor. Adoption and diffusion issues need some kind of measurement. it is important to collate basic information about the actual and potential applications of ICTs and also to have a clear understanding of the specific policy environments. 1996). However. her paper is set in the context of the expanding interest in ICTs. and an investigation into 7 . there should first be an effort to collect basic data on the existence of quite simple applications in the first phase of any ICT development. O’Farrell (2001) focuses on some of the general debates around information and knowledge in relation to development interventions. how they interact with more formal information and the best way to strengthen them before intervening with new information sources and means of access sources. She explores the existing information and communication needs and constraints facing the rural and urban poor.
In addition. what literature exists that attributes poverty reduction to ICTs. but to assess the relationship between ICTs and Poverty by examining for instance. The World Bank (2000) argues that the right mix of national and supranational policies and programmes can enable some countries to move from being victims to beneficiaries. This latter point accounts for the fact that quantitative and qualitative methods can be used in poverty research. the networking revolution will remain predominantly a developed world phenomenon. According to Lok-Dessallien (1999). healthcare and public administration. At a conceptual level. unpalatable and complex to implement. the impacts of new networking in the developing world will be significant. However. but must also consider development needs. not all development problems can be addressed simultaneously in the face of completing claims on scarce resources. and the most effective policies and programmes implemented. more efficient and effective education. drawing from Mansell & Wehn (1998:115). or to emphasise poverty as a topic. There are also basic policies and programmes needed to prepare for these threats and opportunities. Lok-Dessallien points out that poverty can be viewed in absolute and relative terms. The authors found that there were a magnitude of the threats and opportunities that co-exist for developing countries as a consequence of the networking revolution. the poor countries that take action on both technological and human resource challenges will be better positioned to benefit from ICT applications and reduce the impact of exclusion from the information economy. His work attempts to present an overview of different concepts of poverty.how skills involved in the use of such simple applications might be developed to make more sophisticated use of ICTs. but only if networking development moves up the hierarchy of development priorities. relative poverty compares the lowest bracket of a population with the upper bracket. Some of the ways new networking will accelerate development include: improved economic efficiency and competitiveness. In summary. On the other hand. The purpose of this report is to show that the impact of the networking revolution on the developing world can be understood. Most development practitioners focus on reducing absolute poverty because of the urgency associated with starvation. and opportunities to bypass failing domestic institutions. opportunities to exploit low factor costs in international markets. The aim of this literature review is not to delve into these definitions. affordability and skills development. it can be approached from objective and subjective perspectives. However. as well as to approaches to its measurement. even though these policies and programmes will often be challenging. malnutrition and 8 . even though the mechanisms and manifestations will differ. Nevertheless. Poverty and Some Related Issues Poverty is a frequently used word and has been defined in various ways. Absolute poverty refers to subsistence below the minimum and socially acceptable living conditions. The work highlights the point that much still remains to be done to expand conventional sets of indicators to make them reflect a broader understanding of poverty. opportunities to increase social capital. the authors warn that emphasis should not only be on expansion of telecommunication systems (‘access’ to links in information highways). In addition. there is a considerable body of literature on different types or categories of poverty indicators.
manual motor power or other forms of production skills. UNDP’s definition of poverty notes definition of poverty incorporates the view that poverty is “not merely in the impoverished state in which the person actually lives. as a percentage of a day’s wages. skills and other requisites to be participants in that revolution. Kenny discusses the use of ICTs in poverty alleviation in relation to poor people’s limited access to ICTs. This view is consistent with Mark Brown’s assessment that it is important for poverty programmes to be country driven.’ 9 . 2000). It is significant that poverty measurement has usually been based on the objective approach. most rights-based approaches focus on relative poverty because they do not want to acknowledge the existence of what can be described as first-and second-class citizens. although it is recognised that ICTs have the potential of having a crucial role in poverty alleviation efforts. the significance of the distinction between absolute and relative poverty is evident in Wresch (1996) who argued that for poor people as opposed to rich people. poverty and exclusion. Some of the causes of poverty listed by Chowdhury are lack of ‘info-telecommunication’ infrastructure and appropriate skills. and is often correlated with vulnerabilities and social exclusion. This contention is not comparable to traditional discussions of poverty issues (Kenny. The fact that poverty can be chronic or temporary is sometimes closely associated with inequity. In essence. In the context of ICTs. In this respect.” (UNDP 1997:15) Chowdhury 2000(a) defines poverty as inadequate ownership or gainful control over assets (tangible and intangible). By way of comparison. poverty and vulnerability. The paper challenges the UN ICT Task Force in its efforts to find ways of mainstreaming ICTs in the working and social lives of the poor especially in the lives of their adolescent children. the subjective approach relies on what people prefer (individual utility) and on how much they value goods and services. the subjective approach is dependent on the premise that value can be drawn from understanding the perspectives of the poor. information and communication costs more in absolute terms. and cost ‘astronomically’ more in relative terms.other afflictions. It is only recently that some have started to argue that lack of access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) is an element of poverty. Most arguments related to poverty focus on insufficient nutrition. These include: poverty and equity. while participatory poverty assessment methodologies represent examples of the subjective approach. relative poverty is not an exogenous factor in the fight against absolute poverty. not donor determined (UNDP. 2001). inadequate shelter and so on. He outlines a number of issues that characterize the poor people. Thus. d'Orville (2000) simply re-emphasises the point that many others have raised. Yet. He proposes the implementation of government policies that might help to overcome the so-called ‘digital-divide. These include lack of literacy and lack of access to accurate information. Lok-Dessallien (1999) also discusses poverty in relation to selected and commonly used concepts that tend to co-occur with this term. but also in the lack of real opportunity – due to social constraints as well as personal circumstances – to lead valuable and valued lives. poverty and underdevelopment. that we have witnessed a new type of poverty – information poverty – as developing countries struggle to obtain the infrastructure. The objective approach to poverty (or the welfare approach) aims at assessing what poverty is and how to get people out of it. It is the case however that he would prefer to see external donor funding provided through regular government channels to make it possible for governments to direct their own poverty initiatives.
and existing case studies of applications of ICTs in rural areas from both SSA and South Asia. ICTs have enormous potential as tools for increasing information flows and for empowering poor people. This is based on the fact that as an example. the developed countries are creating the core software and hardware for the Internet. Instead. and the role of ICTs in combating poverty and fostering sustainable development. The authors address this doubt and conclude that access to ICTs should not be seen as an end in itself. To conclude this section.The international community has been debating about this ‘digital-divide’. They note however that if properly deployed. two surveys of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tanzania and Botswana. The second objective was to suggest ways through which information and ICTs can best be used in poverty alleviation strategies. ownership and affordability of ICTs within countries in SSA and South Asia. In this respect. given the great needs facing people. telecommunications and education. Finally. basic needs of the poor has led some to doubt whether ICTs should be a priority for DFID and other development agencies. 90% of Internet production is in not only in English. al. The data sources for this undertaking included: Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 26 low income SSA and South Asian countries during 1991-99. Camacho’s concerns are partially answered by Canning (2000) who reiterates what many have said over the years namely that the Internet promises to allow more dissemination of ideas and technology that will grant developing countries easier access to the skills and techniques needed to take advantage of globalization. Marker et. two surveys of poor urban and rural households in Nepal and India. (2001) outlined for DFID staff the fundamental principles underlying a proposed approach to ICTs and development. the measure of success should remain progress towards reaching the International Development Targets and not the spread of technology. such as basic literacy. The author found that SSA and South Asia have the lowest ICT access and within countries there is urban/rural and rich/poor divide. Pigato points out that private sector initiatives are most successful while those led by governments for rural development have mixed results while the externally funded initiatives have numerous 10 . the possibilities of access and use are completely related to levels of development of electrification. the sites are presented in concepts typical of the West. Moreover. but is also mostly produced in the developed countries. that may necessitate the promotion of electronic literacy. The questions addressed in the study include: how can developing countries learn to appropriate the Internet and create national conditions to use it appropriately? How can they derive advantages from ICTs? The search for answers to these questions makes Camacho to wonder whether the challenges presented by the questions should be a priority task for organizations and governments. Pigato’s (2001) paper focuses on this relationship with empirical evidence from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia. The Relationship between ICTs and Poverty The relationship between ICTs and poverty does not come out clearly in most literature sources. Panos Institute (1998) warns developing countries on how the so-called ‘digital-divide’ would widen due to their ignorance on some pertinent issues. Two objectives of the paper were first to examine patterns of utilization. Moreover. Camacho (2001) asserts that the digital gap is a result of other social gaps. and the gaps will continue to grow if the technology is not used correctly. In addition. The contrast between the complexity and expense of some of these technologies and the need to address the urgent. or the bridging of the digital divide. there is an unmet demand for information. as well as for developing countries themselves.
it is a means for achieving development goals. and a manifestation of development. Hudson (1984).drawbacks. ICTs can contribute to socio-economic development. The Internet’s potential is discussed at micro-level. however. There are those who sincerely believe that ICTs have the potential to combat rural and urban poverty and foster sustainable development (Samiullah & Rao. the researchers argue that information exchange and dissemination are both critical. The paper advocates the need for an integrated framework to develop appropriate policies of access and diffusion of ICTs within developing countries. transportation savings. the free flow of information. For this reason. the principal focus should be directed at ‘information’ per se. The authors argue that successful ICT interventions can only be achieved if there is an enabling environment. 1997). as a means of sharing information. 2000). but investments in them alone are not enough for development to occur. (2000) conducted an empirical study where they argued that econometric studies have found increasing evidence of a causal link between telecommunications development and economic development. However. distance education. Sixteen years later. access by women. then ICTs. Hence. Some studies have extended these correlations to other indicators. one is not more important 11 . such as social development. but evidence shows that technology is not a goal in itself. and to put research questions and findings within a development framework. The examples used in the paper are categorised under agriculture and fisheries. telecommunications may be a cause. and achieve economies of scale. al. she wrote one seventeen years later generally on the same topic. and health services. but a link in the chain of the development process itself Hudson (2001). However. After Hudson’s (1984) paper. business and industry. and increased transport efficiency. They challenge governments to address the issue of the digital-divide by first ensuring that there is synergy in projects regardless of sponsorship background. The purpose of this volume was to consolidate research in the field in order to make it more widely available. a consequence. Kenny et. this can only be achieved if ICTs are appropriately deployed and made to address the differential needs of urban and rural people. cost savings for industry. and capacity building. most evidence springs from the high returns on investment in the telecommunications sector. Malawi and Botswana (Kayani and Dymond. Hudson’s (1984) volume was one of the first to examine the role of telecommunications in rural development. ICTs should complement other infrastructure required for development such as clean water supply. the participation of the private sector and NGOs. Consequently. The empirical studies cited on the contribution of ICTs to development are mostly drawn from the USA with a cursory mention of an African study done in rural Senegal. she argued that if information is critical to development. many authors write about ‘poverty’ and ‘rural areas’ on the assumption that these terms are almost synonymous. are not simply a connection between people. Evidently. in the sense that it provides an opportunity for firms and entrepreneurs to reduce costs. increase market coverage. She cites examples of the benefits of telecommunications from the developing world (mostly Asia and South America). Instead. On this occasion however. While it seems obvious that telecommunications contribute to the efficient operation and productive growth of an economy. Wresch (1996) and Heeks (1999) believe that ICTs are simply a channel for information exchange and dissemination. transportation and electrification.
and they are part of minority ethno-linguistic groups. Therefore. many are still writing about the radio. Kenny’s (2002) contribution is on the costs and benefits of ICTs for poverty alleviation. This review will not concentrate on publications on the benefits of the radio since these are well documented. it is not a widely used example of current literature on ICTs compared to the radio. Many poor suffer from lack of communication beyond their local confines. the key message is that electronic links are used to supplement face-to-face contact. the poor do not get access to it either due to poor infrastructure. Kole (2000) and Kenny (2002) who have continued to expound on the benefits of the radio in this information age. it is still interesting to find authors such as Jensen (1999). they are only being used to 40% of their capacity because of lack of local financing or foreign interest to make more lines available to homes. A relevant example in this regard is the case of Zimbabwe where five European countries paid for digital exchanges. Given this requirement. even when information is available. for example. Zimbabwe ended up with five different exchange switches with five times the maintenance difficulties. not to replace it. but they are being ‘swallowed’ by the wave advocating for new ICTs. With the advent of new ICTs. given the crucial role of communication channels and computer systems. they are rural. Jensen’s is simply a guide to using low-cost radio communication systems for telecommunication from an African perspective. they are unemployed or work as subsistence farmers or unskilled wage labourers.than the other. information follows. even though the demand for these lines is there. part of the problem is a combination of poverty and lack of foreign aid. an example of how community radio and telecentres can be used to enhance development. In many poor countries. In Wresch’s (1996) view. Lamoureux (1999). radio and television. Instead. but there are many places where telephone lines do not exist. on many occasions. In addition. The author attempts to quantify the significance of barriers to the use of selected ICTs. It is the main medium used for communication. and also some of the costs and benefits entailed in the provision of ICTs. though his focus was on Radionet. there are four information problems frequently faced by the poor: geographic isolation. Buckley (2000). and lack of computer systems. but these had to be from corporations in their own countries. Lamoureux’s was a chapter in a telecentre evaluation volume. and suggests the potential that various old and new ICTs (radio. One example is 12 . Take the telephone. With reference to television. Where there are telephone lines. Despite this interest. they are badly educated. telephony and the Internet) have for direct poverty alleviation. language problems. lack of communication channels. The availability of information sources for the poor is an area that has been addressed for years. The analysis is pegged to the premises that: they are poor. Old ICTs There are many publications that have been written over the years since the 1970s about the radio as the potential means of spreading information and educating the poor in urban and rural areas. Jensen (1999) and Lamoureux (1999) represent IDRC funded studies. via traditional print publications. Two of these are directly ICT related constraints. The author reviews the characteristics of the ‘average’ poor person in developing countries. In the case of geographic isolation. ignorance or illiteracy. Kole’s (2000) study on African women’s use of the Internet showed that many women’s organizations repackage information from the Internet and redistribute it orally. it will highlight a few from recent years.
In discussing the role of policies. The AISI framework is suggested as a basis for capacitybuilding and policy-making. Internet connectivity status and the major donor initiatives to support ICT infrastructure. but this is still an area of controversy. the publication also shows that some countries have become popular sites for multiple projects and that action programmes should be developed to provide an entry point to marginalized and disadvantaged countries. while the costs decrease by an order of magnitude every decade. efficiency. The Commission specifically commends IDRC's Acacia and the ECA's AISI projects. As for the issue of specific ICTs. the mechanism fell short of integrating social considerations such as gender. In King’s view. The telephone is still widely used alongside the new ICTs. Kling (1996) gives examples of the benefits that have been brought by computer-based technologies and notes that computer systems are one of the few technologies where the power and flexibility of the devices increase. Initially. However.org>. he notes that computerization is also the source of problems.Calderoni (1998) who writes about ‘Telesecundaria’. undertaken either by the private sector or by the donor community. The major difference between this publication and ECA (1999) is that Opoku-Mensah notes that very few have been initiated or supported by African governments.wn. much of what has been written in the press identifies computer-based systems with cost savings. many have emphasized that computer-based systems are central to developing a dynamic economy. ECA 1999 concentrates heavily on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) publications and Mike Jensen's Web site on the status of Internet connectivity in Africa. There have been several initiatives to improve interconnectivity and networking in the continent. the author emphasizes the need for private investment in the ICT industry and greater liberalization of the telecommunications sector. a successful TV-based educational programme in Mexico for the last 30 years. there was use of microwave technology which has since shifted to broadcast satellite technology to deliver a complete junior secondary curriculum to teachers and students in remote rural areas. The conclusion to be drawn from the ECA work is that emphasis is on telephony. and productivity. The publication concludes that very few countries had embarked on the ICT policy formulation process. since such systems can lead to unemployment in certain industries. However. which has addressed rural education demands. 1999). Some 13 . The author notes that computers are harder to work with than they really should be although the minor problems tend to overshadow the social problems of great significance. In this regard therefore. New ICTs Many studies in this review concur with the Economic Commission for Africa’s comment that a number of donor agencies are making valuable contributions towards “developing and implementing ICT policies in Africa” (ECA. while in many. Furthermore. namely <http://www3. However. It is worth noting that there are many studies that refer to ICTs in general when they are actually focused on the telephone in the context of telecommunications.apc. and South Africa is used as a model of an enabling regulatory environment. A similar study is Opoku-Mensah (1998) on current ICT initiatives in Africa and the role of policies in this process. it represents an important link between the old and the new ICTs.
Democratization (To what extent do computers and telecommunication systems offer new opportunities to strengthen democracy through online access to the records and reports of government departments?). to determine output. using the initial level of telephone stocks as an explanatory variable. they introduced their own systems of the limits US operators can pay those in other countries. the telephone network and how it has affected development over the last forty years.of the areas he identifies as potentially debatable include the following issues although many of them change focus over time. With this proposed reduction. Some believe however that the US is trying to use the issue to impose its own authority on the lucrative global telecommunications market. The study observed that “if we add ad hoc explanatory variables that do not determine growth. The paper’s hypothesis was that if the effects of improvements in communications technology are large. The article emphasizes that completing international telephone calls for some developing countries is their biggest ‘export’ industry because many charged a high price for completing calls from other countries so they can improve telecommunications in their own countries. but which are correlated with the telephone stock. 1998). Similar results were found for education. but the poorest benefit the least – and may suffer the most. and increasing the extent of the market. There is an argument that US operators lose almost US$6 billion annually on “above-cost” payments to other countries. it emerged that even though telephones are found to be important in some specifications. to get some insight into the likely effects of the Internet. we find it difficult to distinguish the causal linkages we are seeking. The paper gives a review of the International Accounting Rate system and why it matters. the authors looked at a comparable technology. The divisions within society (Are there ways to structure National Information Infrastructure systems so that more people can participate in the mainstream of society?). there is a problem in examining its economic effects since it has only been made available in many developing countries over the last five years. then these should be clear as countries adopt telephone systems. On the other hand. With regard to the Internet.” (Canning 2000: xxxx) Before the meeting of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum in March 1998. Through a cross-country study of growth rates. Employment (how does computerization alter the structure of labour markets?). One issue raised in the paper is that poor countries benefit. the EU has 14 . The telephone may not be as flexible as the Internet but has had similar roles such as reducing communication costs. the result is not robust and specifications can be found where the number of telephones does not appear to matter. • • • • Work life (can computers and telecommunications systems improve the flexibility of work?). The paper also examines the arguments surrounding this issue. Panos Institute wrote an informative paper that highlighted the need to reform the international accounting rate system (Panos Institute: 1998). 2000). Some have argued that rapid reduction in the accounting rate revenues would lead to increased domestic prices for consumers in developing countries and it is the poorest who will suffer the most. along with other inputs. the giant telecoms companies in the West would have increased profits but tithes will affect operators in developing countries (Panos Institute. increasing information flows. In one study (Canning. Consequently. This leads us to a theory-based model in which telephones enter into a production function.
and that State action can help determine the extent to which ICT benefits are broadly shared. They used questionnaires in twenty countries to assess and quantify the current status of telematics – for example. project and local investment opportunities. or inadequate. The model conceived determines that CDMA deployments instil flexibility and better evolutionary properties to the network without the burden of extra costs for the operator. and the application of telematics. Its setting was a situation where there was a lack of. He proposed a cost model that contrasts GSM and CDMA networks. population in Kenya. The paper recommends an e-ForAll. It is founded on three principles: first.” (Proenza. He recommends that the Kenyan government should de-link wireless local loop regulation from the regulation of wire based local access and allow the immediate private provision of fixed wireless local loop services. new rich enclaves will arise and leave poverty largely untouched. In this regard. which could lead to major reductions in accounting rate payments in other countries. that unless the issue of poverty takes centre stage. trends and supporting/inhibiting factors. The research was a combination of on-desk research. They draw examples from the experiences of the Dominican Republic and Colombia. the example given is that connectivity to the Internet can enable low-cost access to governmental services.abandoned the accounting rate system for telephone traffic within its own borders. de Boer and Walbeek (1998) designed a project to bridge the information gap between the North and the South. distant education and community development networks. sensitivity analyses and baseline parameters. ICTs have the potential to improve the livelihoods of low income people by reducing costs of providing services to the poor. He notes that ICT development strategies in Latin America must address the central challenge facing the region: poverty and persistent and pervasive inequality. In his view “what is clear is that economy wide returns to ICTs are high. agricultural products. Although Proenza’s (2002) paper is focused on Latin America. The author investigated current ICTs as well as the projected evolution towards more advanced technologies that are capable of handling broadband data communication. This can be confirmed by Kibati’s (1999) research on access to communication services for the low-income. many of the recommendations are applicable to other developing countries. but ICT initiatives to combat poverty must be suited to the low productivity environment in which they are applied. mostly rural and poor. job vacancies. The project focused on how the application of telematics (defined as a combination of telecommunications and informatics) in developing countries could be improved. The author claims that no one knows how possible this is because there is still a lot of trial and error as the constraints on ICT expansion in the region are overwhelming. telematics service provision. ICT development for socioeconomic change needs huge state support and financing. a strategic public policy guide on the application of ICTs in the fight against poverty. three of them in 15 . the policy would put ICTs at the service of all in the society by encouraging concrete programmes to open opportunities for the poor and empower them. information infrastructure. In-depth studies were then conducted in six countries. A different reference to cost structures is from Mansell & Wehn (1998) who noted that costs of using networks once they are in place are still prohibitive for many in the developing countries. with special emphasis on connectivity issues. second. In another study where the methodology was clearly described. and finally. 2002:6). Therefore. measures are needed to introduce pricing structures that encourage greater use. market information.
this is true of many in the developing world. restrictive laws. it was found that the telematics sector was characterized by small. but development organizations could still help by setting up a communication centre for small enterprises. and to donate equipment.Africa (Burkina Faso. when they try to lobby or bring their issues across to those in the developed world who hold the purse-strings and decision-making powers on many critical issues.’s (1994) study is not directed at poverty. vulnerable organizations with committed employees. Case Studies on ICTs and Poverty Schon et al. opportunities and threats in the telematics environment of each country. For example. information activities are considered in the context of total economic activities. even if provided with access to IT are unlikely to transform themselves from consumers to producers of knowledge because IT reinforces for the poor the idea that machines know more than they do. the findings showed that the government did not allow private companies to provide telematics and that PADIS was the only connectivity provider (de Boer and Walbeek. In many situations. but it is necessary to demarcate information. weaknesses. it is based on a useful methodology/framework which they used in the case of South Africa to measure the information economy. In addition. by financing the purchase of computer equipment and by supporting training programmes for public administration. Although Boon et. In Zimbabwe. and access to ICTs by many in the country was still a major challenge. To some extent. the authors apply an information science as well as an economic perspective to this framework. for example. By emphasizing that the framework must satisfy macro-economic principles and simultaneously accommodate the unique nature and characteristics of information. several connectivity providers existed in Harare. They argue that past efforts (in the 1980s) to determine the contribution of the information-based activities in the economy had many shortcomings. al. 1998). the role for donor agencies in this country would be to provide subsidies for the use of computers. The authors concluded that the poor. limited energy supply. and as a consequence it is difficult to compare results at national and international levels. According to de Boer and Walbeek (1998). (1999) wrote that to design policies that would capture the benefits of ICTs for the poor. Generally. give training and help in the establishment of communication centres. computer illiteracy and lack of awareness. The main threats were in the weak telecommunications infrastructure. Many aspects in the study are based on what is meant to happen and not really on what has happened though the suggestions were focused on help to poor areas. there is the need to understand that poverty is not simply lack of adequate income. In Burkina Faso. In Ethiopia. the sector was dominated by ORSTOM. and feel disempowered to improve their situation. low purchasing power. it does make them feel like they have no useful valid knowledge to offer. SWOT analysis was used to assess the strengths. Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. A standard methodology was lacking. even though it is intertwined in all economic sectors. Their thesis – though based on low-income communities in the USA – is that the poor are hurt more by exclusion from the mainstream economy and society. the quantification of the information sector was not based on in-depth research. It was therefore recommended that the Dutch development organizations should concentrate on the installation of off-line telematic nodes in the major cities and the provision of shared facilities. The truth of this cannot be 16 . They could also support a provider to set up a node in other cities.
Therefore. It was clear that only in specific sectors – such as technical services. These are all sectors that require regular access to information and/or software across borders. Butcher (1998) suggested that the repetition of rhetorical statements on the developmental potential of ICTs has started to ring hollow. Such investments need to be accompanied by significant benefits in terms of the frequency of use and the quality of the information provided. using three main decision criteria: prioritising ICTs in overall business development. An example of another study is Owen and Darkwa’s (1999) paper that purports to depict how telecentres have contributed to development in Ghana. the examples below are the products of a few years later. The researchers note that information-related interventions by entrepreneurs or institutions must recognize the critical and continuing role to be played by informal information systems and human interaction. However. even 17 . but it is the sub-sector which most lags behind in the use of ICTs. although some were written after their papers were published. The findings showed that. However. literate. for instance. The role perceived for ICTs in this process lies in the context of the overall information needs of the enterprises. it helped indicate that a number of important developments were in the early stages of their various cycles. They noted that small-scale businesses were currently one of the fastest growing and important sectors in sub-Saharan Africa as far as job creation was concerned. which relates to ICTs and small enterprises was conducted by Duncombe and Heeks (1999). the core of the study is an examination of the development and potential sustainability of small business communication centres in Ghanaian cities. medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) were being planned and new opportunities were emerging. where the authors found that investment for Internet access was significant in terms of initial financial outlay. communication skills and assistance with improving organic-. a full Internet service was installed. and travel and tourism – could benefits of information access be achieved. assessing how ICTs can be successfully and cost effectively applied. The paper was the result of an investigation into the extent to which these enterprises were using modern communication tools to provide services. In another study. The authors were limited as they only had one month to conduct research so they used sample surveys and made preliminary conclusions.fully argued in the context of their book. However. and establishing how ICT constraints can be overcome. From an African perspective. These accounts illustrated the steps they took to bridge the gap between the ‘information-haves’ and the ‘information have-nots’ and to build bridges between their countries and the worldwide movements related to the global information infrastructure (GII). and for projects to come to fruition. running costs. As far back as 1996. the National Research Council (1996) published a collection of the personal accounts from individuals in Africa who had played important roles in introducing new information technologies into their institutions. 1996). the IT sector. They concluded that a holistic approach to the information economy is required which provides information skills. in many cases not enough time has elapsed since. time and skills. The following is an attempt to answer some of their concerns from existing literature. and their impact on rural development. some researchers had attempted to review the impact of ICTs on development programmes (CSIR. One of the only researched studies. They found that many ICT-based projects for the benefit of small. raising more questions than answers. The study was done in Botswana.and intermediatetechnology based systems as well as the more obvious ICT-focused areas.
though users were willing to pay for the training or use of the technology available in these communication centres, a number could not. As these are small businesses, there is still need for subsidies. Owen and Darkwa argue that financial assistance could also be used to offer other services and thus stimulate awareness and more demand. This could produce a spin-off of a wider user base, hence bringing in more money and providing an avenue to self-sustainability. The authors found that public-private partnerships are still the best approach for ICT development – as exemplified for instance by post office Internet services, in which public money guides private initiatives and resources to meet public purposes. From Senegal, Sagna’s (2001) paper was not specifically on telecentres, but on the general development of ICTs in Senegal. He argues that the development of ICTs in the country should be studied in the context in which these developments are taking place, where for example, there are declining living standards faced by the population. His contribution includes experiences of community telecentres and other approaches intended to increase access. Another paper not based on empirical research like that of Duncombe and Heeks (1999) is Mureithi (2000) which is one of several chapters about ALPID, a Youth Leadership Programme on ICTs for Community Development in Africa. Mureithi discusses the technical feasibility of implementing ALPID. The programme’s targets were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the threshold of excellence in terms of product quality, product standards, market orientation, and export promotion. ALPID also targeted rural communities with limited information sources, with a view to helping them acquire information for health, hygiene, and responsible community living. In addition, ALPID was to mobilize information resources generated through local research on indigenous systems of production, biotechnology, and environment management. Additionally, it was to identify potential end-users of this information, disseminate it and commercialize it in the long run. It was not clear whether this programme was eventually implemented. On a similar note though in general terms, O'Farrell (1999) uses secondary sources on new communication technologies and existing information systems of small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs in rural communities. The author enquires, through case studies, whether and how ICTs might further marginalise poor communities, and whether and how modern ICTs can be used to strengthen and develop the information systems of small-scale farmers and small-scale enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries and contribute to poverty reduction. There are some success stories that highlight the need for optimism on what the poor could achieve by having access to information technologies. The following are various examples of how the poor are using ICTs (more so IT) to their advantage. One is AddoDankwa (2002) who says: many ask, "What has a farmer got to do with a computer?” He gives examples of a project that has been utilised in Ghana with a focus on how ICTs can support small and medium scale farmers to increase their revenues and improve their farming practices by making it possible for them to access information on regional market developments and international agricultural know how. Hazan (2002) discusses small-scale artisans from the remote parts of Middle East and North Africa Region who have traditionally crafted high quality products using traditional techniques. The problem that had arisen was that their knowledge is disappearing and this is affecting their incomes. However, they have attempted to reverse the trend by using Virtual Souk, an e-commerce initiative that has created opportunities for these artisans. The Souk is a pioneering programme which shows how small producers in developing countries can 18
access high-income markets, though the author warns that there are potential obstacles that others will have to deal with if they start similar initiatives, such as, the hidden costs of marketing and the need for quality control. One example from Peru is Quipunet. It is a global virtual network, using mostly e-mail to communicate and is a financially self-sustaining project (Delgado et.al. 2002). The main objective of Quipunet is "to channel resources, materials and knowledge available all over the world to people in need in South America, with emphasis on Peru". The virtual network assists in the development of affordable communication networks, promotes the development of educational programmes and helps support professionals residing in Peru to disseminate Peru's indigenous medicines and its Inca heritage to the global market. Their message is that simple ICT, combined with a lot of personal effort can bridge the gap that developing countries are facing against the growth of the new technologies. The key lessons are that the focus should not be on high technology, but on co-operation and communication. It is significant that the participatory nature of the project enhanced community interest in it. Another lesson was the importance of relying on their own funding first, in exchange for their independence. Now that it works well, Quipunet is ready to look for external support for further development. The final lesson was the importance of learning by doing which has made it possible for many volunteers to acquire basic and practical knowledge of ICTs. This, in turn, has led to unexpected results in the form of ICT-based initiatives like EConnexions, Electronic Commerce Information Exchange (ECIE a non-profit organisation with the mission to help small businesses learn about computers and Internet), TortasPeru, RadioAndina and Dimension Global (Delgado et.al. 2002). Those who benefited from Quipunet founded these companies. The initiative has been a success in bringing strange bedfellows (housewives, students, architects, engineers and so on) together is that only e-mail; the simplest Internet technology is used to communicate. One hindrance has been the creation and maintenance of a communication access channel for people in rural areas. Regardless of the development of telecentres (‘cabinas publicas’), the communication channels constantly breakdown. For this reason, Quipunet members still have to resort to the use of telephone, fax, or even "chasquis" (messengers in the time of the Incas) to carry documents to the rural areas, a clear indication that there is still a gap even within the country where the use of ICTs is spreading rapidly. Other general examples include CICEANA (2002) who created a distribution network, in order to access multidisciplinary data and information on environmental concerns. They found that access to this type of information increases the understanding and awareness of those causing impacts, helps to empower those affected, and intensifies public scrutiny of the public agencies charged with environmental protection responsibilities. The most oft- cited example of a success story is that of the Grameen bank. It has been highly discussed in the popular press and research papers. Notable works in this respect include Ahmed (1998), Bayes et. al. (1999), Camp & Anderson (1999), Lawson & Meyenn (2000), Telecommons Development Group (2000), and UNCTAD (2001). The story is how members of the Grameen Bank (GB) of Bangladesh, the village-based micro-finance organization, have changed their lives with access to the telephone. Grameen Bank's members form the backbone of Grameen Telecom, with women in villages being offered loans to buy cellular phones at taka 18,100 a piece (385 dollars). They are then able to rent the sets out to other villagers on a commercial basis. The GB 19
refers to these phones as ‘Village Pay Phones’ (VPPs). The effects of VPPs are assessed from two angles: sellers of services (telephone lessees/owners) and buyers of services (villagers). Grameen Telecom moved in where the monopoly public telephone company had failed in rural Bangladesh. Bayes et. al. (1999) have one of the few researched papers on the Grameen Bank initiative. One of their objectives was to ascertain how and to what extent the VPPs can promote the socio-economic uplift of the villagers, especially the poor. Generally they set out to determine how VPPs affect rural development and poverty reduction. Surveys were conducted with both owners (50 people from 50 different villages which is 60% of all VPP owners at the time) and users (400 people from a random list provided by the phone owners which was 27% of all users). The authors explain how the poor were selected to make the 400. In this connection, they used the FAO measurement of moderate poverty which is indicated by an intake of less than 2112 calories a day and the extreme poor with an intake of 1812 calories. To identify those in these two categories, they used the income-based method. Primary data was then collected using structured questionnaires and focus-group discussions and a few intensive case studies. Specifically Bayes et. al.’s (1999) study concludes that pragmatic policies can turn telephones into production goods, especially by lowering transaction costs, so that services originating from telephones in villages are likely to deliver significant benefits to the poor. VPPs have perceptible and positive effects on the empowerment and social status of phone-leasing women and their households. They also offer additional noneconomic benefits such as improved law enforcement and more rapid and effective communication during disasters. The Digital Economy event focused on the new opportunities that ICTs are opening up for economic diversification and growth in the LDCs (UNCTAD, 2001). The website/publication contains a series of presentations on successful e-business initiatives developed in LDCs in three sectors, namely products and services, teleservices, as well as e-commerce infrastructure facilities. It was hoped that these could provide replicable examples of how to exploit new comparative advantages created by e-commerce in the LDCs. The presentations were from Canada, Ethiopia, Uganda, Togo, Ghana, Nepal and Bangladesh (Grameen Bank example). In another study, Adam (1996) presents a case study of a project he was involved in for the electronic networking of the research community in Ethiopia. The major challenge was in the selection of appropriate hardware that could work with poor telephone lines. The major benefit of the project was the development of a new 'tool' that would not attract the high communication costs associated with fax, telephone and other conventional systems. In addition, there were improved opportunities for training that resulted in an expansion of knowledge in the field and improved skills. Some of the lessons learned included: building as many Local Area Networks (LANs) as possible; starting good network management practices from the beginning; ensuring interactivity of networks; assisting in building local information sources; and encouraging reasonable payment for the sustainability of the network. Opoku-Mensah (1998) is about the 'Learning Without Frontiers' programme in Zimbabwe, which was supported by UNESCO and Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA). The objective of this programme was to help teacher-training colleges contribute to educational reform by upgrading students' IT skills and 20
including 15 developing countries and this is where the ‘village well’ came in. operation and maintenance. Specific examples include how ICTs were used to sort out an election/poll controversy in Malawi and how the author found that it is a lot easier — and cheaper — to send e-mail from the wilderness than it is to post a letter. Mayer’s (2000) is based on the work of the ITU-D Focus Group 7. It also has seven case studies from Malawi. In this article. organization and management. One example is Mbvundula (2000) from Malawi. The author recommends basic training in computer applications before such an undertaking. lack of funds for initial capital investment. It was a project aimed at exploring the power of the Internet and to assess the extent to which ICTs can be a useful part of CIDA’s assistance programmes for international development. with some developing personal Web sites. The lesson is a research-worthy area. and is consistent with the concerns raised by Duncombe and Heeks (1999). says that there needs to be a more effective mechanism for disseminating results. Cerf’s quotation at INET ’96 that “the Internet is what happens to you while you are planning something else”. The author. affordable coverage. Contributions ranged from the suggestion that ICTs can be used to disseminate vital development information. though the draw-back would be that many may not get access to it because they cannot afford it. One would be misled to think that Kenney & Hendi (2000) is about the use of ICTs in the rural areas because of its title ‘The Village Well’. The main lesson was that “the World Wide Web is not only a means of accessing and publishing information. The impact of the project was evidenced in schools that started using Internet resources for teaching. not least through the innovative use of Intranets. South Africa. lack of technical support and computer repair facilities. multiple players in ICT 21 . such as technical problems and participants' relative lack of experience in using computers (even though the selection of participants was supposedly based on past experience with this technology). Zanzibar and Zimbabwe. One lesson derived from this study is that the impact of IT depends on attitudes. a place where people of the global village met to dialogue as a community around a common interest. Zambia. She describes how she believes new technology can contribute to the development of her motherland. it is a powerful tool for creating and stimulating dialogue. The ‘well’ is metaphorical while the ‘village’ is with reference to Marshall McLuhan’s global village. However. Uganda. more importantly. expectations. The paper draws on V. They set off to launch an ICT electronic discussion/survey and asked how ICTs could be used for sustainable development and were shocked at the responses from all over the world. ICTs and Poverty Reduction Issues Mayer’s (2000) and Navas-Sabater (2000) discuss the challenges facing the implementation of ICT networks and services in rural areas. and the conversion of ICTs from "mere fads into practical development tools". Lush & Rushwaya (2000) edited a book that contains a few analytical articles already highlighted in this review under individual authors. with reference to research on ICTs. Mbvundula reflects on the trials and tribulations of starting and running an IT company in a country like Malawi. some of the problems faced were predictable. Mozambique. who joined the IT industry 20 years ago because the career presented her with a challenge. The challenges that are the subject of these papers have been enumerated in most literature sources and include: equipment installation. while Navas-Sabater (2000) targets the World Bank. lack of mains power supply. Namibia.establishing resource centres for teaching materials.
It is argued in the study that most households and businesses in rural areas of southern Africa want. lure investment. mobile operators with a rural mandate. regional concessions for rural and urban service. which include the need to promote the development of low-cost information appliances and create a renewable energy handbook on small-scale power systems for rural ICTs. Mayer’s (2000) recommendations include ways to fight poverty using ICTs. The balance between these competing interests can only be achieved by governments and regulators determined to ensure that core development objectives are in tandem with those of the ICT sector. In a subsequent publication. whose paper reads more like a conclusion to this review. fostering diversification of the economy. and disseminate information on a wide range of human needs. Some of the poverty reduction factors in the literature can be found in studies such as. She argues that development in Southern Africa cannot be guaranteed simply by importing foreign-made ICT goods and services. and harnessing the capability to mount early-warning information systems. 22 . reducing private and public search and transaction costs. This stance is relevant to developing countries generally. However. The recommendation is to shift decision-making closer to poor communities.design and implementation. In addition. since poverty is a multidimensional problem. giving policymakers access to real-time information and bestpractice knowledge from the Web. UNDP (2001). A key finding in the UNDP (2000) report on overcoming poverty was that ineffective governance often short-circuits the connection between anti-poverty efforts and poverty reduction. poor countries can use technology and the Internet to create jobs. many governments cannot report how much funding goes to poverty reduction because they often confuse social spending with poverty-related spending. Therefore. cooperatives owned by subscribers. it is stated that through the Digital Opportunity Initiative (DOI). These include monopoly or having a dominant operator with rural service obligations. and can afford basic telephone services provided by a commercial operator at a potential profit to the latter. Some other ways to fight poverty using ICTs include the fight against child malnutrition by ensuring information is available to the household. 2000a). using spatially-sensitive informational strategies for poverty alleviation programmes. responding to environmental modifiers. The problem is that most programmes on poverty reduction are left to Ministries of Social Affairs. Navas-Sabater (2000) suggests some alternative models to bridge the access gap. the author says ICTs are relevant to each of the following imperatives in the context of poverty alleviation: creating marketable skills among poor young workers. The report recommends new policies and cites examples of successful government and project models. The discussion on government and regulator intervention is also addressed by Marcelle (2000). The important prerequisites are policies and strategies that suit the region’s unique circumstances that are often characterised by complex competing public and private interests. especially the mothers (Chowdhury. which tend to lack authority over other ministries. the challenge to governments – to meet their universal access goals – and to regulators is to develop constructive policies and regulations guided by sound business practice to ensure that private telephone companies are able to provide rural communities with telephone services for socio-economic development. which can lead to improvements in living standards in the process. making it possible to impact literacy and numeracy to children of poor parents. To sum up. On the other hand. it should be addressed multisectorally – across government ministries and departments. rural operators. Moreover. Dymond (2000). and Universal Access Funds.
which had the potential to be linked with Internet activities. 1997). to information on how to access and use new technologies. for both technical and operational reasons. recommended crops for the season as well as information on meetings and workshops on relevant issues. Consequently. the problem to be addressed by policymakers is not that of affordability but that of supply strategy and policy. or market news and agricultural commodity prices. These range from information concerning agronomic practices and farming methods. In another paper. Some can be found in Richardson (1996). and urban and rural/remote areas. They say the problem is between rich and poor. the population lives in the rural areas and depends on agriculture for their livelihood. From Asia. UNDP (2002) gives examples from India on how information technologies have been used in poverty eradication especially in connection with the needs of women farmers. 23 . partly due to their limited literacy levels.success in creating the right balance can only be achieved by involving everyone. it is only worthwhile to assess what examples there are in the literature of the link between use of ICTs and agriculture in poor countries. as access is no longer a luxury for a few. special licenses for companies. Richardson (1997). In addition. Therefore. 1996). ICTs and Agriculture In many developing countries. and includes countries in North. The report details possible projects. It is argued that women farmers generally remain isolated from the mainstream of agricultural training. Yet. This approach was based on the premise that the Internet offers a bridge to the gaps between development professionals and rural people. and incentives and rewards for technology companies and service providers to contribute resources to projects that benefit poorer areas and communities similar to what Dymond had written in the year 2000. They believe that the only way to address the needs of poorer communities for ICT development is to enact complementary polices and the measures in this context include: good regulation and favourable ‘interconnection rules’. Other information is on weather predictions and rainfall patterns. Many studies exist on the use of agricultural systems. the poor must have access to information to develop. research and development. not all ICTs are easily delivered or assimilated in poor or remote areas. the sector accounts for most country’s exports. In addition. The FAO pioneered a 'communication for development' approach for catalysing Internet services for rural stakeholders. ICTs and Selected Thematic Areas. they suggest a structural way of addressing digital-divide issues and the expected response from policymakers. universal service and universal access funds. Truelove (1998) Chaparro (1999). particularly poor and marginalised people in the process. an approach that began with the needs of people in rural and agricultural communities (Richardson. McConnell (2000) and Munyua (2000). They argue that even the poor are willing to send money to use information-related services (further evidence from Kayani and Dymond. but not necessarily in relation to ICTs. They report on rural telecommunications developments in Uganda as a potential model for other countries in Africa to consider. West and Southern Africa. Dymond & Oestmann (2002) offer a basic conceptual and practical foundation for discussing the role of ICTs in uplifting poor communities. The UNDP proposed to address this issue by processing and disseminating information through a computerised network. Given this contention.
The forum states that in order to take advantage of the opportunities created by the new ICTs. The plan is to equip these centres with networked computers with Internet access. via traditional print publications. This thesis is contrary to Kole’s (2000) study in which she found that African women’s organizations repackage information from the Internet and redistribute it orally. Chaparro (1999) reviews the initiatives and plans of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR). The question is which women are the recipients of the distributed information? Does it mean the women in rural areas like those discussed by Munyua (2000) have no access to this information? By way of comparison. with UNDP providing funds for 15 centres and the Government of Andhra Pradesh or other donors financing the remainder. The problems identified range from a lack of supportive policies. The author's argument is basically that African farmers face similar problems. but women farmer’s face more profound. it is necessary to develop an ICT capacity in the NARS (National Agricultural Research Systems) of the developing world. acquisition of ICT skills and human resources (training). There are those who believe that ‘cultural beliefs’ are a hindrance to the adoption of ICTs in many poor areas. A database of relevant information will be maintained and updated at a central hub. who have completed the basic course of learning at the Mahila Shikshan Kendras (women's learning centres). universal access to information would create a global information society. The impact of this project is yet to be assessed but it is another means of empowering women that is comparable to the Grameen bank. ICTs. The success of the project will determine whether to mobilise additional resources to expand the experiment. The issue of ICTs is revisited in an argument that a lack of 'reliable and comprehensive' information is a 'major hindrance to agricultural development’.The report indicates that a pilot initiative in 30 mandals of Andhra Pradesh would be undertaken. In another study on women and agriculture from Africa. particularly the communication issue. The author believes that the most important ingredient in building up an ICT capacity has to do with strengthening information management know-how and addressing cultural changes. Ryckeghem (1995). She believes that in an ideal world. the mode of interpretation will depend on the culture or tradition of people and societies. These include Janczewski (1992). to the issues of land ownership and limited access to credit. but since knowledge will hardly be global. Internet access. such as: infrastructure development. The author goes on to claim that available local information is packaged in a raw form and is thus difficult to access or to use. though this was dealt with as a parallel issue. radio and television. an initiative to promote a Global System for Agricultural Research based on cost-effective partnerships and strategic alliances among the key players involved in agricultural research. The author asserts that traditional and modern ICTs could be used concurrently to speed up the circulation of information. Each centre will be run by two women. which can be accessed through a network of computers in information centres which will be located in the office of the Mandal Agricultural Officer. Culture and Governance Mitter (1998) argues that ICTs need a holistic evaluation in order to establish its appropriateness. Manji 24 . It includes some complementary aspects which are widely listed in most references. Munyua (2000) analyses the key problems facing women in the agricultural sector.
Eight cultural dimensions were contrasted with those in a developed country. economic and cultural problems in the implementation of IT. However. In the study. Ryckeghem asserts that IT may not increase the productivity level of some workers whose culture is ingrained in communality and is reflected in their work environment and information-seeking behaviour. With reference to the IT technical environment. Janczewski listed power supply. every country must have an IT policy that recognizes its culture and ensure that the adoption of IT does not destroy the cultural heritage. He examined two issues closely: the potential technical. where possible.et. namely Ryckeghem (1995) provides a framework for understanding how information technology (IT) and cultures interact. 2 G. This train of thought is similar to that of Hasan and Dista (1999). define and measure. the study concentrated on Ghana. ‘Temperature. In West Africa. organizational structure and concurrent attitudes in the African environments where IT is being introduced or has been introduced. How does one transform such an information culture? With IT? With the Internet? His conclusion is that it is important to understand the work practices. culture is the most difficult to isolate. the researchers argued that. The purpose was to raise questions for further research. Qureshi (1998). Morales-Gomez & Melesse (1998) and Hasan & Dista (1999). and anyone who wants to implement them must be aware of cultural differences. telecommunications and maintenance issues as the main infrastructural problems. they are not the main issues highlighted in other studies. A different study. humidity and sterility’ are given as imperatives for electronic equipment to work effectively in Africa. They used qualitative methodology and took particular care to select. where the authors reside. where the authors noted that the government was receptive to IT developments. Data were mostly textbased and comprised organizational documents and transcripts of semi-structured interviews with IT staff at all levels. while environmental concerns may be important to highlight.al. One debatable study is that of Janczewski (1992) who wrote on the results of a threeyear study in West Africa (the specific countries are not clearly identified). Generally. The simultaneous interplay between these three levels is referred to as ‘IT practice’. many Africans would prefer to consult colleagues or friends rather than visit a library or documentation centre. representatives of the local IT community rather than foreign advisers or members of multi-national corporations. He highlights the ways in which culture influences IT and how IT influences culture. London: McGraw-Hill 25 . (1998). From their conclusions. It seems that problems arise when there is a difference between 'the culture of an IT product and the culture of its user'. It is true that computers are products of Western civilization. Hofstede (1991) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. with culture providing the condition for interpreting IT's utility. and possible solutions that may enable investors to achieve higher levels of effectiveness. Australia. The eight cultural dimensions used were based on the work of Hofstede. It is the case however that computers are merely tools. Hasan and Dista (1999) compared the relationship between culture and the adoption of IT in West Africa and the Middle East. culture is used as a 'diagnostic' instrument. despite its importance to the success of IT projects. 2 In considering the factors for the adoption of IT. The author appears to discuss socio-cultural issues in a very general manner.
Manji et. Namibia. Responses from some of the participating institutions showed that successful use of IT had to be demand-driven. According to Qureshi. The Commonwealth Network of Information Technology (COMNET-IT) developed the GOVERNET project. Zambia and Zimbabwe to assess the feasibility of a programme for enhancing organizational capacity. The main objectives were to utilize and add value to existing electronic networks operating within Commonwealth countries in Africa. al. The authors used structured interviews and focusgroup discussions with organizations individually and in groups. the Internet. Some of the findings. common to every country. to develop a line of professional collaboration. more specifically. they attribute this to the organizations being brought up in a culture of ‘information starvation’ with the sudden access to the Internet leading to information overload and a desire to consume everything while ‘hoarding’. and in some institutions there was genuine fear of machines becoming obsolete if that individual left. Mozambique. availability of modem. Therefore. electronic communication has the potential to empower civil society by fostering networking among civil servants involved in public administration reform. 1998). (1998). It is the author's assessment that the major problems affecting public administrations throughout Africa relate to the structural inefficiencies that render the bureaucracies incapable of carrying out their functions. Often. it was the initiative of an individual that pushed for the use and development of electronic communications. al. Qureshi (1998) also has a conclusion similar to that of Manji et. Manji et. include the wide disparity between organizations in their access to the Internet. and to provide access to information about administrative and managerial reforms. (1998) and Qureshi (1998) combine advocacy and governance issues with that of culture and the acceptance of ICTs. that access and sharing of information are enabling factors in building civil associations in Africa but a ‘culture of communication and sharing of information’ needs to be developed before effective networking among civil servants can have any significant impact. such as high costs of government-owned packet data networks. The researchers found very few examples of a culture of sharing – of either the resources or the information – with those who are poorly resourced. Only a small percentage of sub-Saharan Africa's population has access to advanced ICTs. economic and social spheres. Those with access ‘hoarded’ it and created even greater divergence between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. She makes use of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related documents. access to computers. Internet access and training. the right to development of the personality in cultural. Some of the common problems of using IT in many African countries are listed and discussed. (1998) surveyed 103 human rights and advocacy organizations in Botswana. or can access information the poor need to better their lives. al. The case study given is on the development of GOVERNET (an African administrative reform network) intended to target key considerations that drive the need to build civil associations. sources of income. South Africa. This included an assessment of technical capacities and training needs. Malawi. The findings are arranged into size of organization. Myers argued that the concentration of information 26 . but should be trained in how to develop effective research capabilities. Lesotho. and technical knowledge of ICTs. ICT in this study refers mainly to the use of computers and. In their brief analysis. They recommend that organizations should not simply be provided with basic training in the use of the Internet. An issue closely related to governance is based on Myers's perspective that the technological needs of sub-Saharan Africa raise significant human rights concerns (Myers. It is many of these people who have access to. availability of computers. arguing that any introduction of IT must be accomplished with these rights in mind – for example.
not technological. The study provides evidence on how communitybased resource centres. unless the foundations for good governance are firmly in place. and these gaps set a new agenda for development work. the market and civil society. can play a key role in information development. The findings are tabulated. Information for the project was obtained from both primary and secondary sources. She argues that the new development paradigm emphasizes partnerships between the state. especially in civic knowledge and in skills needed to use ICTs. ICTs and women. The author concludes that. these Kenyan women (who may be representative of others in similar regions) depend largely on traditional sources of information and lack control over the most effective sources. However. Technologists and those able to implement change are severely lacking in sub-Saharan African nations. one showing that socio-economic and cultural governance of women in these two districts remains elusive. it is not due to the lack of application of ICTs. ICTs can assist in achieving good governance. She concludes: “the solution is far from easy because sub-Saharan Africa lacks not only the monetary funding. Khasiani (2000) is about a project on 'Women and Governance' but its focus is on the role of ICTs within this project. there is a widespread belief that. She presents a table of the gender-based disparities in all policy areas in Kenya between 1960 and 1997.” IT (with reference to computers) is thus capable of helping African citizens realize their basic rights by transmitting information on relevant issues and enhancing their knowledge in relation to new systems and programmes that can benefit the community and the nation as a whole. This results in existing gaps. and the last detailing the main sources of information for these women. confiscation. Khasiani (2000) and Opoku-Mensah (2000) both discuss governance issues. Bad governance has accelerated poverty in many countries. the second showing the respondents' views on the qualities of a good leader. not technology-driven. 1999). The problem with governance is human. but also the proper education and tools to implement change. if properly used. In contrast. The obstacles to applying ICTs to good governance are analysed under the following headings: government opposition. The setting for the project was Kakamega and Makueni districts in Western and Eastern Kenya. From this study. legal issues. ICTs will not solve the underlying problems of human attitudes that determine the course of good governance. In summary. ICTs can only play an important secondary role once a system of good governance is in place. equipped with ICTs. Opoku-Mensah (2000) stresses that since the democratization process in most African countries is still in its embryonic stages. The primary challenge lies in the re-examination and rebuilding of the processes of governance. She discusses how to promote women's use of communication resources 27 . Ningo (1999) wonders how ICTs can assist African countries in the process of good governance. and others ranging from education to infrastructure (Ningo. The author argues that his study was ‘prospective’ in that there were limited concrete data on the cause-effect relationship between ICTs and good governance. censorship. governance in Africa is driven by the hegemonic drive for power exemplified by the ponderous bureaucracy of the state. universal access. ICTs could support the participation of women in governance.technologies (IT) in certain sectors of the population removes desperately needed economic resources from a portion of the population in need and denies those without access the ability to realize their human rights. The author assumes that 'women's lack of access to information is a reflection of the disparity in women's and men's access to development resources'. Governance should be content-driven. which include ‘Education and training’ and ‘Information and media’.
The general argument is that an illiterate or poorly educated people cannot wholly absorb ICTs. In Uganda. They decided to use a purely qualitative approach to examine the interpretative under. based on four main aspects of the impact of ICTs: actual impact. Ghana. many argue that ICTs should be introduced into school curriculum so that children learn how to use these technologies from an early age. The work has tables that indicate the policy goals that governments should have and how to measure their success. In addition. 2000). women have created and used alternative communication channels to support their efforts. Policymakers and donors are advised to undertake a more rigorous analysis of social and cultural dimensions of ICTs to be able to design appropriate policies to harness ICTs for development in their own context. After the review of papers on ICTs and culture. which predisposes them to trying new technologies (Rathgeber. In Zimbabwe.in society. 2001). The purpose of this review is not to focus on ICTs and Education because that is a huge undertaking on its own. with reference to gender studies. 28 . In examining the literature on ICTs and culture. It is worth mentioning that the ‘global village’ is not global for most of the world’s poor not simply because technologies are not available to them but because with or without these technologies. including one specifically targeted at NGOs that shows constraints and potential resolutions. Truelove (1998).sensitive information to decide whether to create their own closed space on the Internet. Others are Calderoni (1998). South Africa and Tanzania on how ICTs have been used to promote women's rights. actions centred around users and their reactions. A good starting point in general would be the ILO report (ILO. potential impact. The intention is to highlight some useful references that are relevant in addressing how ICTs can be used for poverty alleviation. Perraton (2000) and Hawkins (2002). defend their rights and diffuse their own forms of representation. For example.standing of users. They conclude that the best long-term development investment that can be made using ICTs is to apply them to education and training. or to assert their presence in mixed spaces. constraints. some methodological concerns can be found in Adam and Wood (1999) who studied the impact of ICTs on users in Africa from the perspective of the 'grounded theory' approach. there is a comment that men are more likely to have the income to purchase the ICTs and have a slightly higher level of education. women have used the Internet to support their contribution to parliamentary debates. Osin (1998). Elmer (1999). if they are excluded from the benefits of overall development. within the context of developments in women's participation in electoral and political processes in Africa. Uganda. women need to discuss the use of gender. They argue that it is unlikely that quantum leap reversals of marginalization and poverty will result from technology transfer to the developing world. the poor are likely to remain marginal in the distribution of the benefits of society. ICTs and Education The importance of ICTs and education is a topic that runs across all thematic areas on ICTs and development. OpokuMensah gives specific examples from Zimbabwe. The authors found that understanding ICT users within the context of their application of ICTs is necessary for impact assessment. it is interesting to read Morales-Gomez & Melesse (1998) who claim little is known on the long-term impact that ICTs may have on a country’s social and cultural systems. The authors believe that the availability of ICTs is not by itself a reliable developmental approach. She proposes that with the advent of ICTs. however noble its intentions may be.
The report places considerable emphasis on the independence of work from any physical location. ICT is a ‘meta-technology’ characterized by pervasive effects on the economy as a whole. 10) Technology motivates students and energizes classrooms. but they work. and in grappling with curriculum and education reform issues in developing countries. and regulations impede connectivity and sustainability. (Basically that the professional development of teachers sits at the heart of any successful technology and education programme. basic education and nutrition. The report also deals with the widening digital divide and how markets will be affected by the new technologies. training. 6) Private-public sector partnerships are essential. health care. and would not substitute for genuine development. child welfare. ILO (2001) advances the position that the level of national income is strongly related to ICT diffusion and is clearly the distinguishing feature of the divide between industrialized and developing countries. education and social services because ICTs make governments more transparent and gives them an opportunity to extend their services more broadly and at lower cost if they work at it. the poor could benefit from the improved quality and reach of health. 3) Non-competitive telecommunications infrastructure. training. Access to ICT for the poor is more likely to occur at the community level. The cost and availability of telecommunications determines the extent to which the Internet is used. and there must be lifelong learning from schools to the work environment. The lessons are: 1) Computer Labs in developing countries take time and money. 4) Lose the Wires (basically wireless technology is most effective for connecting schools in developing countries). Hawkins (2002) writes about World Links for Development Programme’s experiences in connecting schools to the Internet. Access can be improved through NGOs and other local development agencies in the areas of for example. and per capita access costs are most often higher in poorer countries. 7) Link ICT and education efforts to broader education reforms. the report shows that there could be a new development paradigm from the possibilities that networking opens up for poverty alleviation. which are vital for reaping the advantages of this era. in training teachers. the nature of the employment contract. The authors note that ICT is merely a tool. However. In addition. With reference to poverty. 9) Technology empowers girls. One question is whether the information economy will be a jobs economy. and on areas of scientific and technological advance well beyond the ICT sector itself. The key issues outlined revolve around life at work in the information economy that ensures work is independent of location. This factor is bound to change management practices. and the quality of work. With direct reference to education. ICT offers tools that may accelerate development. He conceptualizes the story into ten practical lessons that policymakers and business and community leaders should consider as they plan to incorporate the Internet in the educational process. One of the most important avenues is literacy and education. policies.In ILO’s (2001) view. 8) Training. 5) Get the community involved. 29 . Poor people could benefit directly through access to the information that the technologies provide or through the potential for greater collective voice and empowerment they allow. 2) Technical support cannot be overlooked.
SchoolNet but these are not covered in this review. at relatively low cost. Driscoll (2001) found a lot of literature that re-emphasize the importance of ICTs and HIV/AIDs. such as. They must ensure that the ICT component does not deflect limited resources from HIV/AIDS-related work at the community level. There is reference in the book to how youth volunteers have been instrumental in building local capacity for electronic networking in Uganda. education and prevention. ICTs are seen as a potential tool in the global response to the pandemic because they offer the feasibility. There are many electronic discussion groups on this topic. ICTs and Health An issue that is destroying the developing countries largely due to poverty is that of HIV/AIDS. Driscoll’s (2001) review looks at the role of ICTs in addressing the challenge of HIV/AIDS. and some preliminary information on the views of those working in developing countries. or how ICTs can be or are being integrated into strategies and current efforts to deal with the pandemic. that is (Ogbu & Mihyo. 2000). there is no clear indication of when and if the recommendations from IDRC sponsored workshop would be implemented.There are many similar projects aimed at ‘connecting’ schools in Africa and the rest of the developing world. but many express concern that they are more useful to Northern funders/ organizations than for those in developing countries. The author advices international donors like IDRC to ensure the responsible and ethical introduction and implementation of ICTs when defining programmes and policies. which can be used to cover the costs of care. of providing access to information and knowledge for those working on the problem and for those who are suffering from the disease or its effects. In addition. ICT initiatives on their own cannot have useful effects. The editors provided a basis for further action with an introduction on how to develop a youth leadership programme for Africa. The author found the lack of infrastructure is inhibiting the use of ICTs among community groups and individuals although there are many examples of these technologies being used in innovative ways in the field by a number of organizations. treatment. and follow good programmes and complement them. there is constant reference to ALPID.sponsored workshop in 1998. Those who need to take preventive actions can also benefit from the information. They show that ICT initiatives should find. However. a review of HIV/AIDS-related Websites. The role that the youth in Africa can play in the development of ICTs has hardly been addressed in mainstream publications except under the ‘education in schools theme’. mainly through the initiatives of international donors and international organizations. One exception is a book produced as the result of an IDRC. It includes an overview of HIV/AIDS. This report is based on information gathered through a review of the literature. but hardly any that dwell on specific uses of ICTs and the need for expanded use if warranted. IntraDelta Management Consultants International Inc (1997) conducted a project for IDRC who wanted to determine the appropriate application of ICTs to a primary health 30 . and surveys of discussion group participants and AIDS activists. a Youth Leadership Programme on ICTs for Community Development in Africa. the ways ICTs are being used to address the pandemic. there are some who are concerned that scarce resources will be spent on technology rather than on the critical needs of basic infrastructure and that inappropriate attention to ICTs may actually be negative for developing countries and for the poor. Unfortunately.
then women will be continually marginalized. he emphasizes that one cannot achieve good governance without sensitivity to gender issues in the context of ICT development. high costs. but would give an indication of the role women were playing in the organizations. Most women are still excluded from access to information. A plan to conduct face-toface interviews generally led to negative responses typified by the following reactions: 31 . Women are generally the poorest and least educated in the developing countries. Given these conditions. Hafkin (2000). Munyua (2000) Khasiani (2000) and Opoku-Mensah (2000). Kole (2000). there are many who are raising concern that ICT development is an area women can actively participate in but if certain issues are not taken into consideration. the poor suffer and in the absence of parallel. ICTs and Gender Abbasi (2001) argues that those in Pakistan and developing countries in general depend heavily on the government and the private sector to supply social and technical services to the poor. Based on the team’s past experiences. Obijiofor (1998). which essentially means access to power. Although Ningo’s study is on governance and ICTs. a lack of technological or economic barriers to the grassroots implementation of the information after receiving it). ICTs and women. The key conditions were: • Knowledge needed but not readily available at the grassroots (i. those who suffer the most are women and children. the village level).e. the focus is on women. at the provincial or national levels). except Sharma (2001) that covers both men and women. emphasis was placed on technologies which were developed and produced by Canadian organizations and had the potential to support the health care activities of Ouidah district of Benin and which could be used in the broader development process. Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was admitted that this method would not explain much about the impact of IT on women. Huyer (1997). In all the gender related studies. they decided that the basic pattern of needs identified in Benin could be generalized to many development situations though the foci might range from agricultural development to animal husbandry or micro credit. Mitter (1998). Marcelle (2000). With the development of ICTs. For this project. Sharma (2001) believes that ICTs offer many opportunities for poverty alleviation and employment generation for marginalized women and men. Odedra-Straub (1995). formal.care setting in rural areas of the South of Benin. Therefore. He argues that the private and civil sectors must work in synergy to enhance the benefits of ICT.e. Odedra-Straub’s (1995) study was on women in IT. Postal questionnaires were used to gather data from organizations in Kenya. The last two discuss governance issues. • Knowledge being available within an organization in a larger environment (i. The main hindrance to the achievement of these benefits for the poor lies in the problems of access. • Capacity for those at the grassroots to absorb and apply the knowledge if received (i. Rathgeber and Adera (2000). when there are systemic failures in these sectors. This view is partially supported by Ningo (1999). knowledge-based social infrastructures.e. The gender studies directly related to women include Mitter & Rowbotham (1995). and minimal human resources. the integrated use of ICTs suggested by the authors could be applied to any of these foci or a collection of them.
which need to be researched rather than women and IT. the urban being largely associated with Western influences. who complained that only secretaries had access to the computers in their departments. She notes some of the general problems. with people expecting immediate feedback. and the building of a women's information and communication network in South Africa on SangoNet. and the lack of sufficient computer education and training facilities which aggravate the lack of skills. The work has five case studies (four from South Africa and one from Uganda) to explain the importance of developing 'women-friendly ICT systems'. the status of IT in Africa is outlined. on the other hand wrote during the same period. His hypothesis is that African societies have strong and enduring socio-cultural influences and will therefore embrace 32 . 'IT' and 'computers' are used interchangeably. the Women's Environment and Development Network (WEDNET) research project. According to the author. It is recommended that ICTs be located in local institutions to which women have open and equal access. Communication in Africa is categorized into rural and urban forms. such as health centres. the benefit to African women of using ICTs. what about the poor? Other initiatives outlined are the APC Women's networking programmes. but discussed issues of access. one of the major findings was that the type of information accessed by women is an important consideration. The author discusses how to empower African women through ICTs and the barriers to their full use of these technologies. If women at this high-level had these problems. The purpose of the project was to identify women's groups that were able to make successful electronic connections and to follow up those that were experiencing difficulties.• • • 'Women are not playing much role in IT area. They did not have decision-making powers in determining how computers should be used. and their role in the production and dissemination of information. AAWORD). but that is nevertheless relevant is that of Obijiofor (1998). A study that is not wholly on women. He compares the Western perspective of communication with the modes of communication in Africa. The main recommendation in the paper is the need for more IT education and training opportunities for girls and women. Odedra-Straub’s (1995) paper was written when the impact of ICTs across many African countries had not been felt or assessed. any modern communication channel should therefore take this into consideration. She concludes that it was difficult to assess the impact of IT on African women properly. One of the emerging issues was that 'women's access to IT also seems to be a major hindrance'. such as lack of financial resources to purchase the hardware and software. In addition.' 'IT has made little overall impact in our countries. the first being the high rates of illiteracy. The appendices include a number of case studies.' The author therefore relied on secondary sources and experiential knowledge on IT in Africa. Rural communication is largely oral. Huyer (1997). or where modems should be installed. Other examples are drawn from the responses of women researchers (mostly from the Association of African Women for Research and Development. one of which involved the setting up of networks in Francophone Africa for women's communication needs.' 'There are many other important areas of priority. It was also intended to integrate groups working on the same topic through the networks. and connect more groups. women's NGOs and churches. and a picture given of the overall status of women on the continent. In the paper.
especially in the context of the jobs and economic opportunities created by ICTs. Hafkin mentions a US$1 million grant made by the Gates Foundation in 1999 for WomenConnect. Rathgeber emphasizes that if African countries are to benefit from the use of new ICTs. current practical experiences in Africa. Senegal and South Africa in 1995. All chapters focus on women under three broad topics: the current state of ICT and telecommunications policy in Africa. although the new ICTs can marginalize both men and women in Africa. and affordability of. According to the author. therefore. The author believes that new communication technologies will replace (and already have) this form of discrimination and gradually lead to a new era of information democratization. as they are likely to have the income to purchase the ICTs and have a slightly higher level of education. lies in improving basic infrastructure and ensuring accessibility to. needs and perspectives on ICTs are likely to differ and it is important to address the specific needs of women according to Rathgeber (2000). She provides a historical perspective of how the concept of ICTs and development and of gender and development converged and gained more recognition. there is the need for 'National Information-Technology policies' focused on improving the telecommunications sector. management and local R&D institutes. 2000). The challenge.technology that promotes greater interaction and sustains kinship. but this must be done in parallel with the reorganization of existing information. and sectoral applications of ICTs in agriculture. social and cultural context to empower themselves. but to date the area that has received the least attention in Africa is the role of women in the information economy. a re-conceptualization of the use of ICTs as tools for African development may be necessary. traditional African societies had certain norms of communication. In general. In essence. African women are now able to discuss openly issues once considered 'taboo'. Therefore. An interesting perspective in this study is the emphasis that communication in Africa is largely gender-based. Such a move could provide a new role for African universities and research institutions. then societal forces will prevail and they will be left further behind. However. Hafkin (2000) offers an overview of the emergence of the 'gender and ICTs' theme. he sees the telephone as the 'future' technology as it embraces the central element of the African mode of communication – orality. Rathgeber's thesis is that. but developed with the involvement of industry. Hafkin concludes with a brief overview of the future of ICTs for women in Africa. His conclusion is summarized into three scenarios. 33 . the first operational activities associating gender and ICTs appeared in Kenya. telephone services. the new technologies are not gender neutral and if women do not grasp the opportunities. the preferred one being an Africa that does not totally embrace the new technologies without matching them to its socio-cultural practices. The Internet is considered too impersonal. In addition. a project aimed at providing connectivity to rural women in Africa. She argues that the telecommunications policies adopted by many African governments do not make distinctions between the attitudes and needs of male and female users. women are likely to be slower in adopting the new technologies. She envisions that women in Africa will take advantage of this medium and fit it into their economic. Based on this premise. and sometimes the anonymity provided by the new ICTs has enabled this. The only study that unequivocally focuses on gender and ICTs in Africa is an edited volume published by IDRC in 2000 (Rathgeber and Adera. which limited the areas of discourse open to women. education and governance. Men's and women's attitudes. these 'gender-neutral policies' tend to favour men. which predisposes them to trying new technologies.
Lessons learned include directly e-mailing potential respondents in the appropriate language to get a greater response to questionnaires. with a total of 25 questionnaires being returned. as would be the case in referring to the telephone in relation to communication. Links between computer networks and other media. namely “are the poor still excluded from much of the world’s information?” The answer to this has to be “Yes”. anticipating lay-out problems in the transfer process. that “no one has even begun to outline a solution to the problem” is not true. Sufficient training. Emphasis on text-based information.to-face communication was still the preferred method of reaching the grassroots. meaning that financial support should be matched with technical support. It has been suggested that there is the need to transform the term ICTs into three separate entities that in essence they are: that is information. From the literature. In the 1999 study. the respondents recommended that Web-content developers should ensure that the relevant information on the Web sites could easily be repackaged into traditional media forms. there is evidence that there are many who are trying to address this problem. However. communication. The findings show that most organizations had at least a computer and telephone. To prepare the ground. Ensuring the women-friendliness of the system. the second part of the question. training and information. face. but more critical is the synergy between them and the relevance of the whole ICTs concept. with some measure of success. such as in information management. Attention to disparities and respect for differences between Anglophone and Francophone users. there should be more emphasis on ensuring that girls become involved in science and technology at an early age. More support for organizations functioning as intermediaries in 'communication. this is very easy to do but practically it poses its challenges and this can be seen from the literature. especially non-technical. information and media' fields. Concluding Remarks This review began with a question from Wresch (1996). 34 . The information they access should be relevant to them. Theoretically.unless strategies are developed to deliberately include them. The study was conducted electronically. then there will always be publications discussing the three in an overlapping manner or that refer to ICTs when the focus is on only one area. comprehensible and easily available. The three parts should be appreciated as separate entities. However. The following are some of the recommendations for practice and policy: • • • • • • • Multi-disciplinary support. Unless there is a situation where people on the ground are educated on the differences between the three. Kole (2000) essentially brings to fruition the 1999 work of APC-African Women. anticipating deviant ways of answering the questions electronically. and technologies.
There has to be political will to achieve some of these developments. where donors encourage self-sustainability after a period. that it is a big hindrance to embracing ICTs for poverty reduction. An excellent initiative that could be replicated in other developing countries is the structure and running methods of the AMIC@s in Paraguay. ICTs have the potential to alleviate poverty and problems faced by the poor. Many in the labourforce in poor countries who are losing out in this information age are women. Lack of appropriate skills is an area highlighted often in most studies. the answers lie in other strategies that are not dependent on government support. but operating costs are now 100% from local sources. Gaseleka. but it is worth noting that the labour-force needs to be educated. policymakers and donors are advised to undertake more rigorous analysis of the cultural dimensions of ICTs to enable them to design appropriate policies for the world’s poor. There is a general consensus in the literature on why the poor cannot reap the benefits of ICTs which include the problems of access. it is important to acquire marketable skills. it is important in this age to grasp the opportunities to empower the poor and give them real choices for the future. From the review. there are other upcoming ones although the impact 35 . he warned about viewing ICTs as more than the tools they are. high costs or lack of funding and low human skills. in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces. In essence therefore. Sometimes. Otherwise. and in how ICTs can be used to empower women. yet the governments should not be neutral players. as is illustrated in some of the case studies in this review. Although. The success to utilizing ICTs requires synergy from all including the poor who at least should ensure they get education if availed to them. which is a desirable goal for many in developing countries who do not have clearly outlined systems for self-sustainability beyond donor funding. There is a general concern that more focus should be given to women’s role in ICTs and development.A worthwhile in the conclusion can be drawn from Brown (2001) who tried to address whether ICTs can address the needs of the poor. The best case study examples are drawn from the constantly cited Grameen Bank example. Many authors reckon that ICTs have potential in job creation. There is also a need to see more discourse between projects despite their sponsorship background because donors do not seem to be ‘talking’ to each other. The pilot projects in Mozambique are fully donor funded and this may explain why there has been laxity in finding ways for their self-sustainability. is an example whereby there was not much donor funding. In some of the studies. Dependence on the government and donors is a major problem in the development process and is not the only solution in efforts aimed at alleviating poverty. some policymakers will constantly say the government lacks the resources. the HIV/AIDs pandemic. but the deployment of ICTs has to be treated with caution so that the ICT component does not deflect limited resources for other developmental concerns. However. The initiative was set up in such a way that there was ‘life’ beyond donor funding. There is no guarantee that efficient delivery of the required resources from the government or donor community will address the poverty problem. Many blame governments and this in itself is a problem. Probably a small percentage should have been required to be sourced locally after their first year of operation. it is evident that a lot has been written on telecentres as a potential solution to the problem of access to ICTs for those in rural areas. There are very few studies on how women can be empowered to use ICTs to enhance their status since most are poor. This is particularly critical in poor areas. such as.
are from Asia.has not been assessed such as UNDP’s (2002) project to empower women farmers using information technologies in 30 mandals of Andhra Pradesh in India. organization and management which is a research-worthy area. More interdisciplinary research is needed on the social impact of ICTs. Overall. However. This may be justifiable as qualitative methodology generally aims to derive meaning from issues that are not easily quantifiable. Firstly. as this would help planners and implementers to design and evaluate better uses for them. Qualitative methodologies are used more than quantitative ones. There are not many empirical studies on the relationship between ICTs and poverty. rather than simply using quantitative tools. one being government censorship. expectations. a number of the studies reviewed were more descriptive than analytical. On the other hand. However. even in this era of new ICTs. Most of the sound empirical studies are focused on telephones and the telecommunication sector in general. Adam and Wood (1999) highlight areas for further research that include the social impact of ICTs from an interdisciplinary approach. Some studies simply list these problems. as well as on institutions. The impact should be analysed by using generalized and expanded treatments of both qualitative and quantitative techniques. anecdotal evidence suggests that the television may not be the most effective medium for human rights issues in many African countries for a multitude of reasons. there is a need to assess the curricula being used or that are being proposed for use on the ‘study of ICTs’ (taken loosely) to ensure that those from developing countries 36 . the power of oral communication is still the most effective human rights channel. What is apparent is that many women. whether they are individuals or organizations. that African citizens will be able to realize their basic human rights by using computers to transmit information is debatable. Opoku-Mensah (1998) found that the impact of information technologies depends on attitudes. The following are possibilities for further research mostly drawing from the literature. Recommendations for Further Research It is important to note that the impact of ICTs depends on users’ attitudes and expectations. Adoption of ICTs involves a substantial learning curve and a high level of investment from users. Interestingly. however. Both examples. as this would help planners and implementers to design. organizations and management. However. Awareness of ICTs. still rely on traditional sources of information. evaluate and make better use of ICTs. Direct evidence from the literature reviewed shows that the survey is the most dominant technique used to gather data for ICTs and development studies. In many African countries. There were also a number of suggestions on how ICTs can be used for good governance. a huge geographic area cannot be covered as easily as with electronic communication. It also depends on the role of policymakers in general. The problems of ICTs throughout Africa are mostly common and predictable. evidently. The African studies generally deal with the potential and constraints of ICTs for women in general and not the poor specifically. some statistics show that more Africans have access to television than to computers. the argument that Myers (1998) raised. there was absence of a clear analysis that could identify how these problems might effectively be addressed. does not lead to their immediate application.
and how these may restructure social life. This is important at all levels of education. many do not understand that social analyses of computer systems (and ICTs) provide comparably important insights into the roles and effectiveness of computing in the world. the degree of involvement of women in the process of this development. More studies are needed that focus on the social analysis of the use of ICTs to understand what kinds of assumptions are made about social relationships between people. These could help identify the potential of ICTs for women. Kling (1996) found in the USA. the potential employment opportunities.are using the right approach and appropriate content to train their current and future labour-force. In general. An APC study (Huyer. especially as a poverty reduction mechanism. computer-human interaction and so on. as the literature is clear on the need for ‘appropriate skills’ not simply hardware development. Two areas suggested by Hasan and Dista (1999) for further research are: • The Cultural Identity of IT (based on the argument that IT comes mainly from the West and that certain products may be inappropriate for other cultures). that too many students study ICTs from a very ‘technical’ perspective by focusing for instance on computability. and on the impact or non-impact of ICTs on women. such as what kind of technical problems women encounter. support structures for the range of technological options. and indicate how women are going to reap the benefits from ICTs. In this regard. and comparison with other regions. This may be a basis for research on poverty alleviation issues. The need for studies on ICTs and culture has also been highlighted because this may explain why ICTs are easier to adopt in certain areas than in others. 37 . A hypothesis is that if the poor are ingrained in their cultures. and gender analysis within it. the state of national-level ICT policy. Findings of this nature are relevant in the context of developing countries as they account for why many shy away from dealing with core issues. there is a need for more case studies on the importance of women and ICTs. Another suggestion for further research can be drawn from a question asked by Abbasi (2001) on why there are such poor-and-gender blind policies that are enacted. 1997) also cited the following as priority research areas: the potential use of ICTs for women and market trade. The author believes the question needs to be answered with a thorough discourse on processes mediating between power relations. Possible areas for further research involving women come from Kole (2000) who suggested: • • In-depth elaboration of topics. and what exactly is meant by ‘women-friendly’ systems? Suggestions to cope with problems and limitations that are unique to the African context. rather than usability. then it could contribute to their nonacceptance of new ICTs or information from other sources. They also explain why not enough students are being trained on ‘social impact studies’. knowledge generation and institutional developments in socio-cultural settings.
Bedi attempts to ease this process by asking three main questions: • What are the features that distinguish these technologies from those invented in the past? • What are the channels through which ICTs are expected to promote development? • What justifies the confidence placed on ICTs as a development tool? 38 . Bedi’s (1999) paper is a good way to end these recommendations. there is not enough evidence in developing countries. but the role and impact of these technologies are still obscure.• 'Cultural Values and IT' (based on the argument that work practices may be culturally ingrained and can affect the success of an organization's information system and hence its adoption of technology). Moreover. Various views have been brought forward about the potential of ICTs for development.
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