ICTD2010 (I). Round table: the future of ICT4D research

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Round table: the future of ICT4D research

Tim Unwin, chairing the session, encourages the speakers to elaborate on the future (10 years ahead) of ICT4D research, what topics, fields, etc. should be on the table.

Erik Hersman, Ushahidi.

What is the point between tools and uses? Is Firefox or the Mozilla Foundation ICT4D too?

There is too much focus on the PC and not as much on mobile phones, which so far seem the ones that have made a deeper change in poorer communities.

Anriette Esterhuysen, Association for Progressive Communications

ICT4D research is too much often disentangled from what practitioners are doing. And when it approaches the field, it is quite often “market analysis” for telecom companies rather than real research.

There is a strong need for deeper analysis and, especially, focus on policy, on strategy. more analytical thinking. And an analysis that is based on hard data that practitioners cannot usually extract and analyse.

Indeed, to reach policy makers, research should also be about blogging, about communicating, about reaching out.

Stop looking at the solution (e.g. mobiles for development) and look instead at the problems (e.g. lack of drinkable water).

Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change

Many research is not related with the “community factor” of reality. Thus, it fails at linking the importance of the community with empowerment, solidarity, progress, development.

How we make sense of the models, the numbers, and translate them into real application at the political, democratic, macroeconomic level.

On the other hand, how do we train or engage practitioners in the academic dialogue, in the ethos of research.

Ken Banks, Kiwanja / FrontlineSMS

How do we measure and look up at data? What should we be looking for to measure impact?

We should make some research that lists the tools to do research and the tools to measure the impact of that research. There also is a need for an organized directory of Who works on ICT4D, where, how. And, a list of projects and their impacts.

Indrajit Banerjee, Information Society Division, UNESCO

We spend too many time isolating the “ICT factor” of projects that work. We should shift the focus to what is the context where these ICTs worked, because that might be the actual success factor.

On the other hand, academics should cluster together and create bigger research groups that somehow stepping out of the structures of Academia. Academics cannot be just reporting on the work that practitioners are doing; they’re behind the curve, amateur journalists, if that is all they do.


Q: What happens with ICT governance? Anita Gurumurthy: Definitely the UN should be having a word on that.

Q: What should the role be of local communities in ICT4D? Ken Banks: local communities should be the ones leading the implementation of projects and solutions. Erik Hersman: Indeed, there are many innovations that rise amongst local communities.

Q: We need all components: practitioners, academics, different disciplines and approaches…

Q: There should be bridges between academics and practitioners. The former should be more aware of what happens down on the terrain; the latter should be more knowledgeable about methodology, impact assessment, etc.

Q: There is a big issue in ICT4D concerning non-accessibility for disabled people, including illiterate people that never went to school. The accessibility factor should be urgently addressed in ICT4D research agenda.


Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

Development Cooperation 2.0 2009: conclusions

Notes from the the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Participative conclusions

(unsorted contributions from the audience)

  • Need for applied research on ITC4D processes, modelling and scaling
  • Need for collaborative work among inst.
  • Nothing about us without us
  • Technological determinism: Mobiles are hammers and everything looks like a nail
  • Richness on diversity of views
  • Need for R&D agenda with South as shaper and agent
  • Development 1st, ICT as resources and tools
  • Don´t forget the users, they’re also stakeholders in ICT-based solutions
  • Multi-stakeholder approach
  • Spanish Coop to draw on available expertise for advice
  • Next stage on ICT4D: focus on KM, agenda transformation, along with dev agenda too… towards a Development 2.0?
  • Debate on ICT4D largely over, but still there underneath. More evidence, models?
  • Build awareness
  • Empower Southern actors for ICT4D innovation
  • Scale of problems are huge, but analysis helps to disaggregate in order to facilitate interventions.
  • Don’t discard pilots yet
  • ICTs can even serve as a stimulus for self-esteem in gaining more capacity by people
  • This presents a significant opportunity
  • Incorporate socio-emotional factors in ICT4D -related work
  • Knowledge and experience-based approaches, understanding models, process (the how’s?)
  • Then assess those kinds of resulting projects programmes to see how relevant such models/processes
  • Adequate KM is very important, hard to truly know what´s going on, but rigorous methods, evidence-based needed
  • Demand-driven projects interventions – do users have an input?
  • Detect real problems, then elaborate joint solutions
  • ICT4D is not new, there is considerable work already and learning; beneficiaries also present practices themselves (thanks for ICTs…?)
  • Capacity development


(unsorted ramblings)

Vikas Nath: Wake up call that ICT4D have to focus on the “D”.

Merryl Ford: how do we know how, when and where we succeeded? How do we build the agenda? How do we reach the stage to collaborate in building together the agenda?

Anriette Esterhuysen: Development is continuous, and there are new challenges and everywhere, not only in developing countries or during crises. We need knowledge management, to keep learnings in mind. And look to small initiatives with small but really effective impact.

Najat Rochdi: Development 2.0 implies a huge shift, bringing in a new concept of multilateralism. We need to bring new stakeholders in.

Ismael Peña-López: What or who are development institutions? In a world 2.0 where everyone participates, institutions are in dire crisis of identity. We should bring in not only development institutions, governments or communities to whom we address development actions, but also the citizens that can enable them in the developed world by means of ICTs. Development 2.0 is not about institutions, it’s about people in both developing and developed countries.

Anriette Esterhuysen: Significant gaps in access to infrastructure makes it still difficult to link micro-to-micro levels of development cooperation. Notwithstanding, people are driven by commitment and come together to run projects. We have to let them build these projects on their own. To promote smooth evolution of projects instead of leaping from one to the other.

Vikas Nath: Cooperation has to balance powers, and be made from an even and empowered point of view. Countries have to enter the cooperation landscape in a position of strength. Cooperation 2.0 is the solution to balance powers. But we’re not seeing it: giving aid is somehow legitimizing donor countries to intervene at their own will in developing countries. And we have to end that.

Najat Rochdi: Cooperation 2.0 towards co-development.

Ismael Peña-López: we have to be able to list an inventory of all the resources available (funding, natural resources, human resources, knowledge), see who’s got what, and engage in a conversation on how to better allocate and exchange these resources. ICT4D are surely about knowledge management and the transmission of knowledge, not the transmission of “atoms”. And, the more countries specialize, the more likely we are to find ICT4D is the leading issue in Development Cooperation in general, as it is knowledge unbalance what really makes development differences dire (let aside humanitarian aid for emergencies).


Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)

Multistakeholder Networks and Multi-Network Actors in Development

Notes from the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Round Table: Mul-stakeholder networks and Multi-network actors in Development

What are the key factors that made a network successful?

Stephane Boyera, Device Independence Working Group of W3C

At the W3C more than one hundred working groups in the last 15 years, issued 70 standards. How could this be made possible?

  • It’s a multi-stakeholder forum
  • Powers are evenly distributed along the components of the network
  • Having standards is a key thing for success
  • A focussed programme. Working groups have limited lives (12 to 18 months) and expected results to be issued at the end of it
  • Members are fully committed. And if they are not, they just cannot participate
  • There are tools to support international, distributed work
  • Don’t put value on the network, but on the network’s goals, do not promote the Internet bubble, don’t move away from the goal

Caroline Figueres, Global Knowledge Partnership

  • Have to review on a regular basis the purpose of the network, so that it adapts to the changing needs and goals of the members.
  • Win-win perspective: a good balance of what members bring in and what they get from the network
  • Have to be clear about what is your motivation in being part of a network – and cope with other members’ motivations
  • Based on trust (might take years to achieve an optimum trust level)
  • The network is not there for the benefit of the chairman but for the benefit of the members. It should promote everybody
  • Gender balanced

Anriette Esterhuysen, Association for Progressive Communications

  • Diversity seen as a strength, not as a weakness
  • Flexibility
  • Regular contact
  • Distributed “ownership” of the network and its outputs
  • Manage delivery
  • Get critical feedback
  • The personal dimension: institutions but also human beings (with their daily human problems) have to be represented in the network
  • Branding, indentity
  • The network should provide more than what individuals face daily
  • Learning space, exchange as equals
  • Gender issues are really important for both the inner performance and public outcome of the network

Oleg Petrov, e-Development Thematic Group of World Bank

  • Don’t take sharing for granted
  • ICTs are great, but they have to be used in an innovative way, try and rethink completely the way things are being done
  • Don’t take ICTs for granted either


Vikas Nath: what’s exactly the role of the private sector in multi-stakeholder partnerships? Why is their participation so important? Figueres: people from the private sector is more solution oriented. There’s a confusion between what the real needs are and what you think their needs are. The private sector is a powerful informing agent to identify the real needs and bridge them with policy.

Vikas Nath: how to tell back to the society at large what is not working in a network (not only sharing good outcomes)? Petrov: things get wrong if you take things for granted, as knowledge sharing or knowledge management. And knowledge management has to be linked to operations, to task managers.

Manuel Acevedo: how to avoid “network fatigue”? how does knowledge absorbtion (vs. just generating knowlegde fluxes) happens? Esterhuysen: to recover from network fatigue, one can “retreat to the boundaries of the network” and people respect this. And even people retreating back to work again at the local level. Knowledge absorption is about knowledge management, repeating concepts, going back over same topics again and again… Boyera: networks limited in time and tied to achieving specific goals is a way to avoid network burnout. There’s no sense preserving a network that serves no purpose.

(My personal opinion on the previous topic: do we really need knowledge absorbtion? If we just don’t memorize everything we write down, why not use the network as a permanent extension of our cognitive resources? as another way to fix memory. I see networks of people, experts, institutions as just part of the cognitive and knowledge storage resources we have at hand: our brain, libraries, hard drives…)

Q: how to know not people but what (interests) they represent? How to encourage exchange? Boyera: it’s better to have leading networks for specific topics. If working groups work in related or overlapping domains, coordination and cooperation between networks is the way to proceed.


Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)

ICT and the Quality of the Spanish Development Cooperation in the New 2009-2012 Programming Cycle

Notes from the the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Round Table
Alexander Widmer, Responsible for the support of Swiss Agency for Development Operational Divisions; Eduardo Sanchez, NGO for Development Association Secretary; Carmen Rodriguez Arteaga, Head of Planning Service. Ministry of Foreing Affairs and Cooperation; Anriette Esterhuysen. Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communications

General issues that came up at the round table:

Knowledge management

  • Coordination
  • Building from existing experience
  • Share best practices
  • Share worst practices

Design of policies

  • Capacity building before network building
  • Human network building before technological network building
  • Coherence of all policies
  • Specialization, then coordination: we have to focus on our expertise

Community building

  • Empowering people at the local level
  • Coherence in ICT4D: government is a key issue, so ICT4D to improve government quality (transparency, accountability) should be added in our ICT4D plans


Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)

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