Information technology for development in expanding capabilities

ABSTRACT: The concept of development continues to evolve as information and communication technologies (ICTs) are applied in innovative ways to support the needs of people living with very limited resources. While it appears that the implementation of ICT infrastructures in underserved communities and in less developed countries (LDCs) may not always lead to the benefits expected in terms of efficiency and cost effectiveness, there appear to be benefits in using ICTs to support the human capabilities. In their call for a more “strategic developmental focus” Thompson and Walsham (2010) suggest that the conception, development, implementation, and use of ICT functions as an explicit vehicle for furthering developmental aims. By this they mean that ICTs in themselves cannot be seen as an end to development efforts, but more as enabling sets of social behaviors. At the same time development agencies appear to view ICTs as an end to their efforts to alleviate poverty, provide healthcare and better government services. Brown and Grant (2010) state that although the extent to which the benefits of ICTs can be realized remains to be seen, it is this perceived capacity to provide broad, far-reaching and even revolutionary, socio-economic change that has brought ICT to the center of the development discourse. They identify a duality between research in ICT for development and ICT in developing countries in which contributions to development from researching ICTs in developing contexts are not often forthcoming. They argue that both these streams of research are being carried out in parallel with little or no overlap with each other (Brown & Grant, 2010).

Keywords: Information and Communication Technologies, Healthcare, strategic developmental focus, information services, e-government initiatives, operational and financial sustainability, mobile libraries