Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of ICT4Development

As I have done before in this blog, when I find an interesting article or post, I share it with you.

In April 2012 I published a post "Is ICT4D going to change Africa? or is it ICT4B" where I shared my concern about the ICT4D approach to problems in Africa. ICT4D is mainly AID oriented and sometimes contributes to Africa problems more than it is solving them as brilliantly explained by Dambisa Moyo in her book "Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa".
Ideas conceived by people of good will in the West often don't work when implemented in Africa, as an example see my postings about OLPC problems in Africa

One of the main reason is the lack of understanding of the culture and problems from this continent of Africa by the people conceiving those projects. 

This paper "The Unbearable Lightness of ICT4Development" published in Smart Monkey TV is addressing exactly that problem and provides good advice on how to measure success of ICT4D projects. I just want to quote one example from the paper that made me laugh as it shows how people sometimes don't understand the situation in Africa.

"There are still too many people developing ICT4D applications whose primary skills are technical. Relatively few organisations have a deep and rooted understanding of their core audiences and not many conduct real tests on their user interfaces and make changes to them.
They tend to assume that if there is a rational, efficiency based case for a service, people will see it as a “no brainer” and use it. Far from it as behavior often only changes slowly and has other perverse incentives. One education SMS app we looked at had the facility to let head teachers know when teacher’s wages were in the bank. Thus it was argued that this would prevent long and unnecessary journeys to the nearest town to discover this in person. Nobody actually thought that the head teachers might actually enjoy these breaking up their routine with these jaunts. See video interview with Mark Kamau, UXB Lab: www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8RH9Dohpvo"

Seeya later alligator...

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