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Conceptualizing development in information and communication technology for development

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In a recent editorial of the Journal of Information Technology, states that ICT4D research is faced with increasing and rapidly changing technologies. This demands a “more acute sense of where research is situated within the broader picture of development”. The editorial explores the key conceptual components of ICT4D and their relationships and offers an interesting theoretical framework – theory of change.

The article makes a claim that many researchers consider ICT4D as the application of ICTs in the context of so-called developing countries; yet this is a flawed view as all societies are ‘developing’ in a sense. Also ICTs while they promised to be an equalizer to social problems; ICTs can rather exacerbate the inequality. The editorial then digs in to the meaning of the term, ‘ICTs for development’; a literature review is provided in search of answers.

The paper proceeds to conceptualize development in ICT4D to the so-called ‘theory of change’(ToC) framework.The following questions should be answered by ICT4D – how, under what circumstances and for whom do ICTs, embedded in social practices and processes, lead to development?

The editorial then gives a conceptual schema of ICT4D, and the key conceptual components of ICT4D.

The agenda for future ICT4D research

The following lines for future research are emerging;-

  • Basic process and challenges in ICT4D remain the same - with barriers arising from social, cultural, institutional and political aspects of society. However new challenges are needed, not similar observations and arguments.
  • Need for multidiciplinary approach recognising the growth of mobile computing, social media, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and many others. 
  • There us also a need for future research to be specific about context (transnational and regional) while showing major interconnections between countries and groups
  • The realisation that ICT4D is increasingly confronted with complex models to measure development such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • ICT4D needs to also focus on the 'dark side'of ICT4D

Read the full paper here 


Yingqin Zheng, Mathias Hatakka, Sundeep Sahay & Annika Andersson. 2017. Conceptualizing development in information and communication technology for development (ICT4D), In: Information Technology for Development Vol. 0 , Iss. 0,0  Editorial