Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) is a well established research area in both academia and practice. The research is trying to understand the instrumental role of ICT in development process. However, the process by which ICT may foster development, in the context of developing countries still remains a much debated issue.
ICT4D is an interdisciplinary research domain, which integrates wider perspectives of three study areas, such as computer science (CS), information systems (IS), and development studies (DS). For instance, CS can answer the questions like what is possible with digital technology, likewise, IS branch can find the feasibility of digital technologies, and DS can explore what is desirable with this digital technology. Until 1990s researcher were more tended to focus on development and ignore the IT or isolate the IT from mainstream development into separate policies and ministries. However, single-mindedly, scholars in information systems acknowledge that both techno-deterministic or socio-deterministic approaches to ICT4D research have a lack of fidelity, as such; the notion of development is the consequences of interplay between these two. It is not just an implementation of technology will do miracles, as a matter of fact, they are designed and used by people operating in a complex social, political, economical, and cultural context. Thus, it is important for a researcher to understand the multi - perspective approach of ICT4D domain. Through the lens of integrated disciplines we can look into the development issues - in connection with technology (ICT). Based on this interdisciplinary approach, some of the ICT4D related key research questions - taken from the lecture notes of Barbara Fillip http://ebookbrowse.com/ict4d-course-barbara-fillip-at-courses-ictlogy-net-pdf-d38867055 - are as follows:
What is the true potential of ICTs for developing countries?
How much can ICTs contribute to economic growth and sustainable development?
Are we expecting too much of ICTs?
What is the extent to which ICTs can contribute to sustainable development?
To what extent is that potential being realized?
Are there countries where ICTs seem to be significantly contributing to sustainable development?
Are there other countries where ICTs don’t seem to be having a significant impact?
Why are there differences in countries’ abilities to take advantage of ICTs?
Is the potential of ICTs being realized evenly across countries as well as within countries?
Are some segments of society not benefiting from ICTs? Why?
How can that potential be realized more fully to benefit all more evenly, both within and across countries?
If we look at the countries that are realizing that potential, how are they doing it?
What are the countries not realizing that potential failing to do or doing wrong?
Who is responsible for doing what to realize that potential?
What are the respective roles of national governments and institutions, the private sector, the international development community and civil society?
Heeks, R. (2007). Theorizing ICT4D research. Information Technologies and International Development, 3(3), 1-4.
Heeks, R. (2008). ICT4D 2. 0 : the next phase of applying ICT for International Development. Computer ( Formerly : Computer Group News ), 41(6), 26-33.