A Systematic Framework for Sustainable ICTs in Developing Countries

A Systematic Framework for Sustainable ICTs in Developing Countries

Mathupayas Thongmak (Department of Management Information Systems, Thammasat Business School, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand)
DOI: 10.4018/jitsa.2013010101
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Global warming problem is specified as the most important problem threatening the world in recent years. The primary cause of the problem is claimed to be greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Sustainable ICTs or green ICTs can significantly help to solve the problem in terms of introducing green innovations or applying ICTs to increase energy management efficiency. In addition, they benefit organizations in the aspects of financial, operational, and strategic advantages. Since developing countries are also the members of societies, they should work together with developed countries in problem solving. Nevertheless, these countries face many limitations such as poverty, development, and so on. Therefore, the systematic support from the developed world is crucial to facilitate their contribution. This paper presents a conceptual framework for implementing sustainable ICTs. This framework can be applied to both developed countries and developing countries. However, this work specifies more details for adopting the framework in developing countries since they are constrained by economy and growth more than the developed world. This work also highlights the systematical cooperation among developed countries and all sectors of developing countries. This framework can help in speeding up the success of sustainable ICTs adoption in developed countries or developing countries. In addition, the paper describes some research directions to support effective application of the proposed framework.
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Greenhouse gas (GHG), particularly carbon dioxide gas, is pointed out to be a major cause of global warming, which has risen the earth’s surface temperature since the mid-twentieth century (IPCC, 2007), particularly carbon dioxide, pollutants, and sulfur released from electricity generation for Information and Telecommunication Technologies (ICTs) (Murugesan, 2008; International Telecommunication Union, 2008). In contrast to bad effects on the environment, sustainable ICTs or green ICTs can slow global warming by improving energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, using less harmful materials, and encouraging reuse and recycling (Murugesan, 2008).

Green ICTs/ IT/ IS become a hot issue or a trend in recent years. They benefits the environment by saving 7.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2012, equals to 15% of all global emissions (Unhelkar, 2011; Jenkin et al., 2011). Green ICTs/ IT are defined as “reduction of energy consumption and pollution of environment through IT” (Shim et al., 2009); “an organization’s ability to systematically apply environmental sustainability criteria to the design, production, sourcing, use, and disposal of the IT technical infrastructure as well as within the human and managerial components of the IT infrastructure” (Molla et al., 2009); “the collective representation of IT products and practices that reduce environmental impacts either by leading to lower net emissions or by reducing waste by-products” (Trepant, 2010). Green IS is also necessary to create a complete piece for sustainable ICTs. It is defined as “the design and implementation of information systems that contribute to sustainable business processes.” It includes systems such as fleet management and dynamic routing systems, systems for collaboration, group document management, and cooperative knowledge management, systems for tracking environmental information, monitoring a firm’s operational emissions, and providing information to consumers, etc. (Watson et al., 2008).

Developing countries account for 69.7 per cent of the world’s population (International Telecommunication Union, 2008). In addition, ICTs industry and ICTs usage in these countries have also grown rapidly (Ansari et al., 2010) such as China and India which become both the manufacturing and recycling centers for ICTs goods (International Telecommunication Union, 2008). Thus, developing countries will have to address the impact of manufacturing processes, e-waste and the environmental problems seriously sooner or later (Ospina & Heeks, 2010; International Telecommunication Union, 2008). Many strategies, guidelines, and practices have been proposed by people and organizations from the developed world (ACS., 2007; Echo Research, Inc., 2008; Elliot, 2007; Eric, 2008; Forge, 2007; Griffith University, 2006; Harris, 2008; OECD & Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, 2008; UCSU Environmental Center, 2009). However, there are no solutions that describe a holistic view of problem solving. Hence, this work portrays the current situation of problems and sustainable ICTs solutions emerging worldwide, combines scattering green ICTs concepts from literature to create a systematic framework which can apply to both developed and developing countries, aligning the framework to extensively adopted theories, customizes the framework to suit developing countries’ constraints, and gives research guidelines for effectively applying the framework to those countries.

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