Photo credit: Lesley Pruitt, Monash GPS
What: Presentation at the Gender Peace and Security institute
Where: Monash University (Australia)
When: 21 February, 2018
Who: Serene Ho
ICT4D: whose ‘I’, which ‘T’ and how to get to ‘D’? Discussing the politics of innovation from a H2020 ICT4D project
Governments and global organisations are increasingly funding ICT initiatives for development purposes (often referred to as ‘ICT4D’). With many developing countries recording high mobile penetration rates and prioritising the development of high quality telecommunications infrastructure (e.g. internet, satellites, etc.), opportunities for harnessing ICT for social transformation and social innovation are perceived to be abundant. Indeed compelling outcomes have been reported from diverse domains (e.g. e-government, agriculture, climate and environment, and health). Reported benefits include bridging the digital divide, large scale data collection and analysis for policy development, and tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. More recently, there is recognition that ICT can potentially help reduce the gender gap by empowering women through greater access to information, enabling participation in decision making, and availing them to opportunities in the digital economy. Nonetheless, these projects are plagued with their share of criticisms, commonly: contributing to the digital divide, inability to scale and sustain outcomes due to lack of consideration for governance and capacity aspects, and technological determinism.
This talk describes the experience of an ICT4D project in the domain of land administration. The ‘its4land’ project is a four-year research and innovation project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Industrial Leadership program in ICT. ‘its4land’ aims to deliver an innovative suite of land tenure recording tools that respond to sub Saharan Africa’s immense challenge of rapidly and cheaply mapping millions of unrecognised land rights in the region. Indeed, this is a global challenge: an estimated 70% of all land rights remains undocumented and outside of formal legal protection. Specifically, Serene presented on her experience leading the first phase of the project, which was focused on contextualisation in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. She reflected on her experiences in identifying land tenure information needs and technology alignment across multiple stakeholders and the gender aspects of the project. Based on this, and drawing on the expertise of researchers at Monash GPS, she used the opportunity to stimulate a broad discussion on the politics of innovation in ICT4D projects, with particular emphasis on how we could better facilitate gender-responsiveness in the design and implementation of such projects.