Ex-Post Stakeholder Analysis of National ICT Policy Subsystem: Case of Malawi

Ex-Post Stakeholder Analysis of National ICT Policy Subsystem: Case of Malawi

Frank Makoza (Department of Information Systems, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa) and Wallace Chigona (Department of Information Systems, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTRAME.2016010102
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Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of stakeholders of the national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy subsystem using the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF). The study focused on the context of a developing country, Malawi, which was analysed using qualitative data gathered through semi-structured interviews and policy documents. The findings showed there was diversity in the stakeholders for national ICT policy who were engaged in different roles of the policy process despite being a unitary policy subsystem. The stakeholders included officials from government departments, donors, academia, private sector organisations, the media, law enforcement agents and telecom operators. Some of the roles of the stakeholders were related to policy formulation, implementation, regulation, ICT investment, and support. The study contributes towards the literature of national ICT policy in the context of developing countries. A further study is recommended to consider the interests of informal stakeholders not represented in the national ICT policy subsystem.
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1. Introduction

The efforts of African governments to respond to the needs of the information society has led to development of National ICT policies. It is estimated that 85% of all African countries have initiated the national ICT policy process to support their development agendas (ITU, 2012). Despite African governments initiating these policies, the outcomes in some cases have not been successful (Gillwald, 2010; Mashinini, 2008; Twaakyondo, 2011). Literature offers a number of explanations for the failure of national ICT policies. The challenges include policy goals that are not needs-driven, inadequate resources (e.g., finance and human capacity) to execute policy processes and programs, lack of legal frameworks to support policy implementation, top-down approach to the policy process, lack of gender consideration, poor coordination of policy activities, and limited participation of stakeholders (Brown & Brown, 2008; Marcelle, 2000; Olatokun, 2008). While each problem is important, stakeholder’s participation appears to be an important factor that may mitigate some of the challenges in the national ICT policy process (Checchi, Loch, Straub, Sevcik, & Meso, 2012; Kendall, Kendall, & Kah, 2006). Nonetheless, there are few studies in the literature that have examined in detail how the stakeholders are identified, their interests and roles in the national ICT policy process (Checchi et al., 2012).

This study seeks to address the paucity of studies on stakeholder’s participation in the national ICT policy in the context of developing countries (Checchi et al., 2012; Gillwald, 2010). The research questions raised in the study were: Who are the stakeholders in the national ICT policy? What are the interests and roles of the stakeholders in the national ICT policy process? The questions were adapted from the common set of questions in stakeholder’s analysis studies (see Brugha & Varvasovszky, 2000; Reed et al., 2009; Weible, 2012). To answer these questions, the study employed the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) (Sabatier & Weible, 2007). ACF integrates top-down and bottom-up approaches and provides a means for identifying different stakeholders who work together in the policy process based on their belief system. ACF can be used to map interests and activities of policy stakeholders in a policy subsystem.

Furthermore, ACF is used to analyse change within a policy subsystem and how the different components such as resources, coalitions, policy positions, interests and strategies within a subsystem tie together over a period of time (Elgin & Weible, 2013; Weible, 2007). These characteristics may be applicable in the context of a national ICT policy process. The study uses the case of Malawi. The country initiated its national ICT policy and was facing challenges in the policy process (Bitchler, 2008; Kanjo, 2008). It was interesting to explore how the participation of stakeholders in the policy process was addressing the national ICT policy challenges.

The rest of the paper is presented as follows. Section 2 outlines the background to the study. Section 3 highlights the theoretical underpinning for the study. Section 4 summarises the context of the study. Research methodology is highlighted in Section 5 followed by the summary of key findings. Section 7 discusses the results and Section 8 summarizes the conclusions drawn from the study.

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