ICT for Development (ICT4D) Projects in Developing Countries: A Proposed Conceptual Framework

ICT for Development (ICT4D) Projects in Developing Countries: A Proposed Conceptual Framework

Md. Mahfuz Ashraf (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Bushra Tahseen Malik (Brainstorm Bangladesh, Bangladesh)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-388-3.ch009
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It is argued that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can lead to the socio-economic development of people, especially in developing countries. Hence, developing countries have been rushing to implement ICT for Development (ICT4D) projects in rural areas through the direct-indirect supervision of institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations (UN) and other donor/local agencies. While there is considerable interest regarding donor agencies or funding bodies and the ways ICT can be deployed in developing countries, identifying the actual impact at the micro (community) level is less observed in the literature. The aim of this chapter is to understand ICT4D project/research in developing countries, presenting key challenges which influence the success of ICT4D projects. In this chapter, the authors propose a conceptual framework aimed to improve this understanding at the micro (community) level.
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Ict4d Research

The literature of ICT4D is clearly divided into two streams of thought — the optimistic and the pessimistic viewpoints. The optimistic viewpoint suggests that ICT can act as a catalyst for development by making information exchange faster and more frequent, and by reducing costs. In developing countries, telecentres and information kiosks enable poor people to receive information about their governments, market prices, health and education (Amariles et al. 2006; Kumar & Best 2006): this means of providing ICT services to poor communities helps them to become active citizens of a country. Such a viewpoint supports the idea of modernisation where developing countries do not have sufficient skills, knowledge, or ability to produce. To become developed, these countries need to seek assistance — capital, technology, skilled workforce — and to hire concepts from western countries. In addition, they can enjoy the benefit of low cost technology because of being late adopt ICT originating from the western countries where it was developed (Soeftestad & Sein 2003).

On the other hand, the pessimistic viewpoint expresses little hope that ICT will lead to national development in developing countries. Those who hold it consider that ICT will not be of help because of deep-rooted problems such as poverty, poor telecommunications infrastructure and lack of IT investment (Cecchini & Scott 2003; Macome 2002). Further, the competitive advantage of ICT in Western countries enables them to enjoy a superior level of economic growth at the cost of poor countries (Sein & Ahmad 2001): for example, offshore software industry is mainly feeding rich nations — a view from the dependency perspective of development (Krishna & Madon 2003; Sein & Harindranath 2004). The following comment by Heeks (2001) is useful in this regard;

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