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Improving the prospects for sustainable ICT projects in the developing world

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Projects that bring information and communications technology (ICT) to the developing world and especially to rural areas have the potential to empower the disenfranchised, foster economic opportunity, and narrow the digital divide that threatens to widen global disparity between the haves and the have-nots. However, given the remarkable growth of such undertakings around the world, there has been little corresponding effort made to address the vital issues of long-term project sustainability and the diverse motivations and incentives facing the actors involved. As a result, these projects continue to be implemented sporadically and in a piecemeal fashion, which in turn hinders our ability to define success and recommend best practices for implementing and/or scaling them. Through an analysis of publicprivate partnerships (PPPs), the prevailing vehicle for project implementation today, the article addresses the issue of sustainability through partnerships, and also asserts that developing world technology recipients must be considered as stakeholders, as they hold the key to project sustainability. Following an overview of both theory and the current state of ICT-related development projects, the article provides a case study of a Sri Lankan-based pilot project involving multiple stakeholders. This case reveals important success factors that can be applied to future developing world ICT projects.

Keywords: development; information and communications technology (ICT); publicprivate partnerships; stakeholder theory; sustainability; telecenters

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of California, Berkeley, USA. 2: University of Southern California, USA.

Publication date: January 24, 2008

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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