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)

Centres for Research and Innovation Development and for ICT

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.

How do we go forward in the field of ICT4D R+D+i?

Florencio Ceballos,

  • ICT4D are a clear niche that can grow outside the circuit of development issues
  • Capacity building happens locally, and this means building confidence, trust.
  • Institutional independence has to be promoted to enable real capacity building.
  • Focus on networking: promoting open networks for capacity exchange

It’s not as much as how you design agendas, but how you make them evolve, how to shift the paradigm. And this shift of paradigm is towards openness.

Caroline Figueres, International Institute for Communication and Development

There is a need for a research to ground some “evidences”, and showcase successes in the field of ICT4D under the rigour of scientific analysis.

People in the South should be put in the agenda of ICT4D research, as most of the output is targetted to developing countries.

Co-creation (e.g. in the sense of Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics) is a very powerful concept. Capacity building can be enabled this way by means of knowledge workers co-creating together.

Kentaro Toyama, Microsoft Research India (MSR India)

How to do formal research in ICT4D? Several steps:

  1. Immersion. Ethnography
  2. Design, involving people, where technology is just one component and a cost-effective one
  3. Evaluation, including finding statistical significance on the impact of a specific project or action

It’s a good idea to break the link between funding and the research agenda. The researcher should be able to pursue their own interests and not be tied (or upset) to the need for funding.

Experience in research might be as important as (or even more) than experience in development. Accuracy of the scientific process is crucial.

Andrés Martínez, EHAS Foundation.

Evidence has to be demonstrated to convince policy-makers and funding institutions that some actions are to be taken and deserve being supported (politically or economically).

  • Research is needed in the impact of ICTs in welfare, health, education
  • But also, research is needed on how to provide appropriate and cost-effective infrastructures, as most communities just do not have access to either hardware or connectivity
  • Sometimes the context is unknown. Thus, research should focus not only on the impact of a specific project, but on what the context (sociocultural, health, education, economic) is.
  • Research on services.
  • How to measure empowerment and mainstreaming of technologies in specific communities and sectors (e.g. the Health sector)

The only way to promote research in the field of Development and ICT4D is to foster publication of research results in indexed publications. Despite the interest of the topic, if the work is “well done”, then it can be published. It is highly relevant to find the problem you want to deal with your research, more important than finding “the” solution.

And diffussion is absolutely worth doing it. On the one hand, results of the projects and the research undertaken. On the other hand, not only information about the results, but knowledge transfer through assistance, direct training, formal education, especially to achieve multiplier effects.

Merryl Ford, Emerging Innovations Group of the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

There’s sometimes resilience to empowerment. Capacity building is not only about specific (digital) skills, but also about changing mindsets.

  • Slogan on disabilities in SouthAfrica: Nothing about us, without us. We need to make sure that we don’t do things “for” people but “with” people. Africa should take ownership of its development agenda.
  • Interventions should be simple
  • The cellphone is the PC of Africa
  • Sustainability, replication, massification. A pilot needs to be scaled at any stage.

Q & A

Q: research on impact… is a real need or an imposed “need” of the inner structure of development cooperation, projects, agencies and so? Ceballos: The need to measure impact is real. Many policies are put into practice based on intuition, on vision. So we do need to evaluate these policies to support or reject such intuitions. Martínez: short-run projects are difficult to analyze accurately, as there’s no time to do it properly. A solution would be that everyone involved in the projects collected data and helped to analyze it.

Q: How do we cope about the cost of maintenance of cellphones in rural areas? A: There are alternatives (e.g. via radio) that do not charge per call… but the maintenance of the whole network does have a cost. Certainly, it’s not a matter of absolute costs, but a matter of cost-benefit analysis, seeing whether the project is worth running it and find out how to support the overall costs.

Q: How do we put social research together with tecnology research in development related research? A: The problems that research has to face have to be far ahead enough. And they require plenty of time. In this sense, everyone involved in ICT4D should be in a same conversation, to gather all sensibilities and be able to look far in the horizon.

Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)