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There is a growing body of evidence regarding the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development (ICTD) in developing countries. 

A systematic review of reviews from 2018 aimed to explore the contribution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development in developing countries. The study reviewed existing systematic reviews that were peer‐reviewed and published in academic journals, conference papers, books, book chapters, and working papers, between January 1990 and July 2017. This systematic review of reviews determines and summarizes ICTD research trends, and methodologies and conceptual frameworks used in ICTD research discuss the findings and evidence and then suggest approaches for further research.

ICTs and development in developing countries.

The systematic review of reviews revealed that there was a rapid growth of research concerning ICT for development in the developing countries in the assessed studies. A growing number of ICTD research have used qualitative research approaches for data collection and analysis in the surveyed reviews. The article notes several attempts to develop and apply models/frameworks over explanatory and predictive theories, most notably in the area of social, sociotechnical, and technical in the investigated reviews. However, there is limited evidence on the long‐term contribution of ICT use on livelihoods, patterns of economic inequality, and broader well‐being in developing countries, as reported in the reviews. The key insights from the article include

  • ICTD research is initiated with the objective of contributing to development in diverse dimensions, which affects their design, implementation, and outcomes in developing countries;
  • despite the notable theoretical conceptualization of ICTs in relation to development context, there is limited evidence on the broader contribution of ICTs for development;
  • limited geographical coverage, as ICTD research tends to be conducted in sub‐Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South and East Asia especially India;
  • there is limited evidence on how ICTD research is addressing major societal issues, including improved civil society, environment and climate change, humanitarian crisis, wars and terrorism (ie, activism for social justice), internet security and protection (ie, cybercrime, identity theft), and global health;
  • limited use of rigorous methodological approaches in conducting ICTD systematic reviews;
  • inadequate understanding of the local context due to inadequate in‐depth qualitative case studies, participatory methods or action research, and experimental research designs;
  • there is limited use of design research that focuses on developing ICT applications relevant for illiterate people; and
  • most of the reviewed ICTD research is being conducted at the micro-level.

More Studies Needed

There is a need to address these weaknesses by focusing on the following issues:

  • Have a focused development objective and investigate the perspective of development from several stakeholders in ICTD initiatives
  • Explore processes and interactions among different stakeholders and ICTD initiative using participative approaches
  • Enhance the accessibility of data regarding the contribution of ICT for development for decision making at all levels. A need to develop theories that address the ICT innovation context and ICT enabled development perspectives
  • A need to expand the geographical coverage to cover other developing countries, such as the developing Arabic countries, other countries in Asia, and mountainous region
  • Conduct more studies on how to enhance both means of revenue generation and alternative funding models
  • Conduct systematic reviews using rigorous methods to maximize validity and reliability and reproducibility of study findings
  • Conduct extensive qualitative studies, such as ethnographic field studies, and triangulate with quantitative surveys (ie, mixed methods) to gain more insight into the local context
  • Enhance the replication, generalization, and reproducibility of quantitative results by conducting research with a large sample, longitudinal studies, and with the inclusion of detailed methodology statement
  • Need to shift from developing technologies for users to designing and developing applications with users to enhance collective problem definition and gain more insight into the context that can greatly affect the outcome of the intervention
  • Combine explanatory (ie, measure social contribution) and predictive theories in order to understand the complex interaction of different stakeholders, processes, and context within which the ICTs are used and the resultant outcomes to the urban and rural communities
  • A need to conduct multiple levels of analysis with specific indicators for analysis based on the development perspective and level of analysis

This review has several limitations. The coverage of the reviews is limited to publications in the English language, with a bias towards developing countries. This systematic review draws its findings from the data provided in the reviews and did not conduct a more deep investigation into the primary studies. The strength of the study findings and conclusions is thus limited to the data and quality of included reviews. This review only used qualitative narrative synthesis, and therefore, future reviews should combine narrative synthesis with other approaches, such as meta‐analysis. Future studies should also assess any variations observed based on the periods of the reviews selected.


The article is from : Edda Tandi Lwoga and Raphael Zozimus Sangeda. ICTs and development in developing countries: A systematic review of reviews. First published: 05 October 2018

Lucubrate Magazine November 2019

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Lucubrate Magazine
Lucubrate Magazine

Lucubrate Magazine highlights trends in education and development. Development in this context can be technological, educational, individual, social or global, and everything related to education.
Lucubrate Magazine is a global based on the web magazine with the main office in Norway.

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