Hints for a literature review for an e-Readiness assessment on Ethiopia

I’ve been recently asked to give some advice on what topics and what issues should be included in a literature review introducing an e-Readiness assessment on Ethiopia. Here comes what my thoughts are:

Starting point and References

To begin with, the next categories from my own bibliographic manager are one possible place where to start digging about such works, being the former the more relevant:

Yes, this produces hundreds of references that are all of them (or almost) worth having a look at. To make it easier, one can then look for some other literature reviews and/or comprehensive approaches to the topic, so that we are pointed to the main references in the field. In the case of e-Readiness and Ethiopia, I believe the next ones are musts:

  • All the whole work published by Bridges.org is, undoubtedly, the best way to picture oneself a map of what is e-Readiness and what has been done in this field. Is is now a little bit outdated, but it still is a reference.
  • George Sciadas‘s work implied a break in the field, clearly separating a before and an after eras in the measurement of the Information Society and the Digital Divide. The reflections that led to the Infostate model are, to my understanding, a fundamental knowledge for anyone interested in how to measure or assess digital progress.
  • Concerning Africa specifically, the unavoidable reference is the Research ICT Africa team and their work, whose main authors/editors are Alison Gillwald, Steve Esselaar and Christoph Stork, among many others.

After these comprehensive approaches and main references about the subject, other references would be ITU, The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the Economist Intelligence Unit, UNCTAd. A cross-search between these authors and the categories mentioned above will show up most interesting documents.

Besides, a look at the ICT Data category in the wiki will also list some of the main existing indices and data sets.

Topics and Scheme

There are, at least, three things that I’d like to see included in an e-Readiness assessment on any country:

  • A general overview and context about this country, and not only about its development of the Information Society or Digital Economy, but as a whole: economy, society, etc.
  • Then, the necessary shift towards the state of their Information Society, with a special focus in what is understood by ‘access’ in this specific country. This is, by far, the most important thing — to me — in any e-Readiness assessment. The definitions of access (and the lack of it: the digital divide) are many and do not necessarily coincident across countries. Is access ownership of infrastructures? Is access the possibility to communicate, from wherever and using whatever? Is access the capability to use available devices? Our understanding of access will determine both the literature we choose and the analysis we made of what our eyes will be seeing.
  • Last, and according to the previous two points, some real data providing an empiric evidence and measure of what we stated before. Maybe this is not exactly literature review… but maybe it is: what have been looking at and what they did came up with the ones that preceded us. Most of this information will be found at the same references we talked about in the References section.

So, summing up: what is my reality — both in terms of discipline and social context — and what have others said about it.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “Hints for a literature review for an e-Readiness assessment on Ethiopia” In ICTlogy, #60, September 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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