Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (VIII). Social Issues and Partnerships

Notes from the Fourth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2009, held in the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom, on September 11-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: ict4d_symposium_2009.

The Social Construction of ICT as a Strategy for Development in Jamaica
Michelle “afifa” Harris

Development challenges in Jamaica: high crime rate, unemployment, inadequate resources, etc.

According to the e-Readiness Report 2006, Jamaica has inadequate ICT infrastructure, limited contribution of ICT to GDP, unreliable electricity, limited Internet connectivity, low computer ownership, low innovation in the area of ICTs.

Why ICT policies, though? Are particula perspective shaping ICT policy? Are particular interpretations of realities shaping policy? What are these interpretations of the reality?

Research questions

  • How have decision makers interpreted ICT as a developemnt strategy for Jamaica?
  • How do these interpretations construct the need for using ICT as a development strategy? What are the discourses associated with this construction?

The national ICT strategies are being analysed to see what the backing discourses are, and which the underlying assumptions and conceptions around ICTs that policy-makers used in their discourses. The research, in the end, wants to provide a critical analysis on the process of policy creation and therefore the ideas and perceptions behind the adoption of National Strategies, deepening the discussion on the role of discourse in agenda setting.

Initial findings on the meanings and interpretations of ICT4D-Thematic areas:

  • Us the power of communication to make us better
  • About empowering people
  • About enabling people
  • Using the IT sector to generate development

But this was placed in the context of what “modern” development required particularly with definitions which seem to underscore the importance of creating a “knowledge based economy”.

Initial findings on the reasons for ICT as a tool for development

  • Ability to drive development
  • Necessary Government action
  • Responding to Global developments

Initial findings on the themes and areas of Discourse

  • Education and e-Learning Jamaica projects
  • Agriculture-ABIS system for Farmers
  • Community Development-Community Access Points

Open Educational Resources for Development. Let’s be realistic about its potential!
Annika Andersson & Mathias Hatakka

Do open educational resources (OER) have any impact in education and/or developing countries? There’s a good amount of literature that state one or the other one or both, so this research pursues testing it in a real environment.

The problem is how to measure the impact of OER on development, as development itself is a complex concept. So, the research will look at its use, how are they looked at and what’s the impact on development.

ICTs regarding to use: OER are seen as a commodity, supporting development activities, as a driver of economy (increases productivity, efficiency), and directed at specific activities.

ICTs views: OER as a tool (OER as seen as a way to build your own resources), computational, ensemble, proxy (OER as an enabler for empowerment).

ICTs impact: OER as a replacement, the increase of a phenomenon, OER as a transformation.


  • Tertiary effects are hard to measure?
  • OERs do not contribute to development?
  • OERs are not designed in a way that they can contribute to development?
  • OERs are not used enough to have an effect?

Re-shaping ICTs for nation building: the Ethiopian case
Iginio Gagliardone

In Ethiopia there were some projects that costed a total amount of 300,000,000$, coming from the government treasury (not the donor agencies), projects that you wouldn’t find in the richest countries of the World. How did they came to think of, design and implement such projects? What was the mindset behind them? How was the political discourse embedded in technology?

In the late nineties, the minority from Tigray came to power and are since building a federalist while centralized state. There’s thus a need to decentralize to suport their ideology but also to exert a central control to make sure they can stay in power. Here is where ICTs come to the rescue.

Videoconferencing technologies for political administration, or broacasted lectures for education, are indeed being used to disseminate discourses about the nation at the grassroots level and among those in power. On the other hand, they reinforce the presence of the government around the nation (just for the record, all the web servers and their related services are hosted at the president’s seat).

This is a clear case where technology is not created to empower but to control.



Fourth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2009)