The Role of ICT Actors and Networks in Development: The Case Study of a Wireless Project in Nepal
Work data:ISSN: 1681-4835
Type of work: Article (academic)
The role of ICT actors in the formation and extension of ICT4D projects is important. The actors through their extended network and aligned interest can enhance the effectiveness of the project which in turn enables socioeconomic development opportunities. However, few studies have been conducted to understand the role of these central players. The objective of this paper, therefore, is to address this knowledge gap by conducting a qualitative case study in the Myagdi district in the mountain region of Nepal. In this study we explored the Nepal Wireless Networking Project (NWNP) and examined how an activist started it from one mountain village and gradually extended across more than 150 villages. The formation and extension of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) projects goes through different phases of identification of relevant ICT actors, roles, negotiations, and their interest alignment. To understand the various phases, we employed Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and explored how a social activist, in the midst of challenges, initiates the wireless project to facilitate educational and healthcare services to the mountain regions. In continuum, the study found how the activist identified relevant actors and enrolled them to form a network of aligned interest. The study also identified several challenges such as high illiteracy rate, over dependency on focal actor, and poor physical infrastructure that may impede the network building process. Furthermore, we identify some implications for research and practice based on insights from the case study.