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Title: Investigating the link between ICT intervention and human development using the capability approach: A case study of the computerised electricity management system
Authors: Ibrahim Dasuki, Salihu
Advisors: Abbott, P
Keywords: Capability approach;Development;Negeria;Developing countries;ICT4D
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University, School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics
Abstract: There has been an increasing amount of investment in Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) interventions in developing countries under the premise of accelerating the process of social, economic and political development. These interventions are usually driven by the symbolic power of ICTs which signify progress and upon which the governments of developing countries try to draw to modernise the functioning of the state and to further enhance public service delivery to citizens. However, in this thesis it is argued that the actions and events that lead to the design and implementation of ICT4D tend to be politically motivated because ICT4D are simply interventions used by powerful actors and institutions to achieve their goals. These powerful actors include international donor agencies, politicians, top bureaucrats and private entities. In addition, it is argued that, due to these politically motivated agendas, ICT4D projects tend to be implemented in a top-down fashion and within an economic development perspective that appears to isolate the concerns of the country itself and the wellbeing of its citizens. In an attempt to try and redress social exclusion and imbalance, the capability approach drawn from the work of Amartya Sen (1999) stresses the enhancement of human capabilities and the moral aspects of development. Theoretically, the study is based on the key concepts of Sen’s Capability Approach. However, Lukes’s (1974) concepts of power are also drawn upon to address the limitation of the capability approach in addressing the concept of power. The research questions guiding this thesis are as follows: (1) How do the underlying motivations of different actors drive the design and implementation of ICT4D initiatives in developing countries? (2) How can researchers usefully conceptualise the relationship between ICT and development given the complexities in which ICT4D initiatives are undertaken? What conceptual framework could help theorise the complex relationship between ICT and development? Epistemologically, the study was conducted by following an interpretive research approach. The research was carried out in two states of Nigeria, Abuja and Plateau, and took place during the period of 2010-2011. The case-study centres on the initiation and implementation of the Computerised Electricity Management System (CEMS). Empirically, data collection techniques include 65 individual interviews, field observations and document analysis. The following are key findings of this thesis: ICT4D interventions are a complex process shaped at two levels. At the international level, they are shaped by donor agendas such as privatisation, and at the national or local level they are shaped by political and private interests. These agendas and interest are driven by powerful actors such as international donor agencies that often impose such interventions as a condition of aid, politicians who often use such interventions as campaign tools, and other top public and private actors who often use such interventions for personal gain. Hence, the beneficiaries of these projects usually have no say in the design of ICT4D projects but are rather forced to accept these interventions. Corruption is a major obstacle that hinders the expected ICT4D contributions in terms of individual opportunities and freedoms of living better lives inscribed in ICT4D interventions. Corruption exists as a “network” involving different actors present at three levels of ICT4D projects, namely the design, implementation and usage stages. Viewed from this perspective, the findings of this study show that international donor agencies, politicians, public bureaucrats and private entities are equally responsible for promoting corrupt practices in the context of ICT4D interventions. Theoretically, this thesis progresses the operationalisation of the capability approach (CA) by encapsulating the central aspect of the approach and Lukes’s (1974) concept of power. This is an innovative way of operationalising the capability approach by addressing its limitations in explaining the notion of power; the study thereby contributes to the field of IS using the capability approach and expanding the scope of theoretical analysis of contemporary ICT4D studies. Practically, to make the relationship between ICT and development more effective in meeting broader development goals, it is necessary for government policies to move beyond the mere provision of technology to also concentrate on the cultural, institutional, social and political aspects in ensuring the effective use of ICT resources, which should serve to improve people’s opportunity to participate more in social, political and economic activities.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Theses

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