Is ICT4D Really making a difference? Opportunities and Challenges in the MobiSAM Project

Caroline Khene from Rhodes University will present the School of IT seminar with a talk entitled, "Is ICT4D Really making a difference? Opportunities and Challenges in the MobiSAM Project". 

Abstract: ICT4D has been a contested field for many years, in relation to whether it does make a contribution to development, and how it could actually be sustainable and integrated in society for supporting development goals. Skeptics have questioned the traditional approaches applied in ICT4D research and implementation, as they do not take full cognisance of the realities that project
beneficiaries are faced with in their contexts. Coupled with this, existing practices have often been dominated by endogenous external approaches that are not locally inclusive in the research, planning, design, implementation and evaluation of these projects, such that they become characterised as “flyby- night” heavily donor funded endeavours. As African ICT4D researchers and practitioners, we need to take a step back, and grasp a holistic understanding of what ICT4D should look like in our context – how it should actually operate; and what the challenges are that we need to be aware of and work around; rather than label our efforts as total failures. This seminar presents on a reflection of the realities of the MobiSAM project in Makana Municipality, as a local ICT4D project. MobiSAM, which stands for Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring, is a project that uses mobile technology to support two-way communication between citizens and government about basic service delivery issues. The project has evolved through two phases of implementation, building on lessons learned from challenges and opportunities experienced. Despite the benefits that have emerged from the project, the project is still challenged by the issues of digital inequality, political influence, citizen despondency, and socio-cultural resistance. What is our role as an academic institution to work around these challenges, and lobby for a sustainable model in our surrounding context?


Caroline Khene is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems at Rhodes University. She is also currently Co-Director of the MobiSAM-Makana Municipality project, and Director of the MobiSAMSAfAIDS project for Southern Africa. Her primary research interests are in Information and communication technology for development (ICT4D), E-governance
and Digital Citizen Engagement, Open Data Governance, and Higher Education Development in developing countries. Her main areas of specialization in these fields are in project management, evaluation, and strategy formulation.

Date: 
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 13:00
Venue: 

Information Systems Seminar Room (INF seminar room, Information Systems Department), Department of Commerce, Upper Campus UCT

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