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Information Technology for Development

Wiley Online Library : Information Technology for Development

Published: 2009-09-01T00:00:00-05:00


Factors affecting ICT expansion in emerging economies: An analysis of ICT infrastructure expansion in five Latin American countries


High-quality information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure is essential for developing countries to achieve rapid economic growth. International trade and the structure of the global economy require a level of integration that is achievable only with sophisticated infrastructure. Since the early 1990s, international institutions have been pushing developing nations to deregulate and heavily invest in ICT infrastructure as a strategy for accelerating socioeconomic development. After more than a decade of continued investments, some countries have still not achieved expected outcomes. Recently, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has called for empirical research to assess the performance and impact of ICT expansion in developing countries. In this article, we respond to this call by investigating factors affecting the efficiency of ICT expansion in five emerging economies in Latin America. Our findings demonstrate that deregulation is not enough to effect efficient ICT expansion, and we argue that existing conditions (economic factors, human capital, geography, and civil infrastructure factors) must also be considered. We conclude by asserting that policy makers can more easily realize socioeconomic development via ICTs if they consider these conditions while cultivating their technology strategies. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Whose gain is it anyway? Structurational perspectives on deploying ICTs for development in India's microfinance sector


The idea of information and communication technology (ICT) being a “hammer” that can be applied to a wide variety of “nails” across different geographic locations, sectors, organizations, and contexts to improve efficiency and/or have a beneficial social impact has come under severe criticism, particularly in the realm of implementing socioeconomic development programs. Structuration theory remains one of the key metatheories that deconstruct the complexity of technology introductions in the context of organizational and behavioral change. In this study, we use a structurational lens to examine two pilot ICT implementations in the Indian microfinance sector, specifically exploring the interactions between the ICT intervention, the organizations and people implementing the change, and the structural and institutional context within which these projects were rolled out. We showcase how an “ICT for development” intervention is inherently a political process, involving choices around defining efficiency and targeting particular social welfare improvements, with varying repercussions for the involved microfinance institution and client. Where the client's context, constraints, and welfare are placed at the heart of the “efficiency” discussion during the technology's design and implementation, the development impact is seen to be far greater and more sustained. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Carving a niche: ICT, social capital, and trust in the shift from personal to impersonal trading in Tanzania


Although the research community is now starting to provide a more detailed understanding of the magnitude and details of small businesses' greater access to information and communication technology (ICT), there is still a poor understanding of social capital and trust, two important (but not necessarily related) concepts that are largely missing from information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) scholarship. This article aims to fill the knowledge gap by profiling three Tanzanian businesswomen who have managed to enter the high-profit area of bulk exporting African blackwood (“ebony”) carvings. Their experience shows the successful use of a spread of ICT applications, and e-mail in particular, as crucial tools to build on existing networks and to maintain trust with wealthy foreign buyers. With the help of ICT to deal with these relationships, the women stay in touch by “keeping up appearances” at a social level, albeit at a distance. In doing so, they are managing to do what institutions are yet to achieve: the move from personal to impersonal exchange. Their experience has implications for how other entrepreneurs can use ICT to leverage resources, ideas, and information from contacts outside their own social milieu. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.