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Top 7 Reasons Why Most ICT4D Projects FAIL ~ Dr. Clint Rogers

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Top 7 Reasons Why Most ICT4D Projects Fail This is Dr. Clint Rogers, at the ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit in Winneba, Ghana. I'm with teachers from around the world, and now I'm with a group of incredible students. Ok -- that was much better. It's interesting that a lot of positive things are said about ICT4D. But recently the UNESCO Chair of ICT4D said that most ICT4D initiatives fail - so why is that? We are coming up here with some of the top reasons why most ICT4D initiatives fail. Reasons for Failure # 1. # 1. Ideas/Results are NOT directly tied to improving end user economic conditions. George Omuono, Kenya. ICT is an enabler, it's not going to create wealth from nowhere. That means it's suppose to enhance what is already happening. If it's going to enable farming there has to already be some production going on. We can't have people using this solution if it does not fit with their economic activity. That is a problem. Connect ICT with peoples' activities directly. If people feel that ICT can help them, like in -- -- production, then people will want to conserve ICTs because they're helpful. Yes, the example is let's get the farmer some internet connectivity. He can check the market price of tomatoes before taking them to the market. Now -- hello - ! When ripe, tomatoes must go to market. It doesn't matter what the price is! If you don 't bring it to market when it is ripe, it rots. So we are giving the wrong information. The information needed is how to prolong the life of tomatoes, how to add value on farm? How to make chutney, or ketchup or what else -- maybe sun dried tomatoes? How do I add value on my farm before marketing. These things are very important. We should not think that ICT can produce money. No, it's part of the means that can help them to produce more. Reason for FAILURE # 2. # 2. Not relevant to the local context / strengths / needs. George Omuono, Kenya. Most ICT4D projects emanate from outside the beneficiary areas. Wilson Apeant, Ghana Before bringing in the initiative they did not go to the grassroots to learn people's needs. They just bring them because they think that is what is going to help the people. The expectation of the people introducing the project is disconnected with end users. James Williams, Ghana. When the funds dry up, the stakeholders don't step up to the plate. They don't see the relevance of the project to their needs. Why should they pump in some money? They view it as someone else's project. It's some white man's project, some black man's project, some donor's project. And when it's gone, it's gone because stakeholders don't have the need for it. A whole lot of people are quoting the Kerela people in India and the fishing industry. The story is about mobile phones really helping them. Tthe implicit idea is if it worked there, the same mechanism will work everywhere in the world. And that is a category mistake. You have to understand that each of these contexts is unique. You have to understand the specific issues, the specific problems, the specific needs. There is no generic solution for all places, they have to be built from the bottom up. When they come, they don't involve directly the communities. Communities then don't feel that these ICTs are part of their lives. Little interventions developed turn out after a couple of years to become digital junk. What will your intervention do in 100 years? Will it still be there, will it still have any impact? And a second question is what will your intervention be worth 10 years from now? Reason for Failure # 3. # 3. NOT Understand Infrastructure Capability Myriam Munezero, Rwanda There's a lack of infrastructure. I think sometimes we try to introduce ICT and we haven't built the foundation to support it. James Williams - Ghana. Donors don't know enough about electricity instability in third world countries. Voltages fluctuate .. and sometimes people wouldn't even inform you when the power is going to go off. The power just goes off - pip - just like that ! When this happens over and over, the computers kind of suffer. Prof. Mary McPalm And they have failed because they have not done anything about sustainability. Reason for FAILURE # 4 # 4. Underestimate Maintenance Costs & Related Issues James Williams - Ghana The cost of operating ICT equipment - internet, mobile phones, telephone is so expensive. Matti Tedre - Tanzania. Our research found that respondents used about 1/3 of their income on mobile phones -- -- buying airtime,recharging and paying overheads to mobile phone companies. In my University I paid some 13,200 per month for a bandwidth equivalent to 4MB per second. In the UK I found people with the same bandwidth paying less than 200 pounds. Speaker of Council, Ghana Some of the computers were gifts. My experience is that most of the time these things are dumped on us. Of course you want to learn it, so you take it. But it can becomes a burden because the cost of maintaining them is so high. Gifts are good but when they're no use and dumped on us, even disposal is a problem. Myriam Munezero - Rwanda There's no trained maintenance staff, and the heat. You have to plan for air conditioners. You have to protect them from dust and sand. There are so many things to consider before actually bringing the computers here. Otherwise they will just sit there unused and they will fail. Clint Rogers - voice. What were the conditions under which the computers were kept? None of the 40 computers in this rural school work anymore. ICT Teacher - Ghana. The problem is we don't use stabilizers or air conditioner. That's why the machines break. Development Chief of Esuakyir Community - Ghana. But you see the fear is when they wear out, who will take care of it, how to maintain it? Our character in Ghana is to offer a lot of advice but maintenance becomes a problem. The culture of maintenance. The people say the culture of maintenance is not here ! Reason for FAILURE # 5. # 5. Projects Supported only by Short-term Grants. Another thing that makes a project fail is to not connect it. They don't use a business model. The problem is they don't have the income to maintain these projects. James Williams - Ghana. Take a look at the realities on the ground for a project to succeed beyond its pilot stage. You see that the practicality is not there, and my University is guilty of that because I've seen some of the projects that we've done -- -- and some of the things we said we would do. Matching funds. The University doesn't match. We agree to match the donor funds, but in reality the matching funds are not there. The way pilot projects are designed doesn't help. They lose momentum and funds run out. So once the donor funds dry out, that defines the death of that particular project. Reason for FAILURE # 6. # 6. NOT Looking at the Whole System Matti Tedre - Tanzania. You have to be there and live there long enough to understand what this thing is all about. Very often I think that if you spend enough time understanding the problem, then the solutions that come out might not be technological at all. Ibrahima Niang - Senegal. Many ICT projects fail because at the start they don't take account of local government. If you bring in mobile phones to give them to plumbers in a certain town, the amount of money made out of plumbing will not increase. There will be the exactly the same amount of plumbing jobs. It's only the case that the distribution of money will change. Those plumbers with mobile phones will get most of the jobs. Those who don't have mobile phones are driven out of the market and into bankruptcy. So mobile phones don't increase the amount of plumbing to be done. And this is something that is often not understood. In research you look at, say plumbers, give them mobile phones and observe how their income increases. And you think that, OK now mobile phones are creating wealth. But no, they are just redistributing the wealth. And I think that is important to look at. Reason for FAILURE # 7 # 7. Project Built on CONDESCENDING Assumptions. Johannes Cronje - South Africa. The whole idea that Africa is poor and Africans are poor. Let's teach Africans to farm better. This way they can have more efficient farming. Yet you say to yourself, a cow in Europe get subsidized by more tax than you can use -- to keep an entire African village alive. So why try to teach us better farming methods? When we could farm quite well if we don't have to compete with over subsidized cattle. So I'm always worried that we are tackling the wrong problems. We talk about third world debt and we quiet comfortably ignore the fact that -- -- Greece is bankrupt while Botswana can service their debt 18 months in advance. So which is the wealthier country, Botswana or Greece? Our idea is Africa is poor while others are wealthy, and theoretically that is not true. We need to acknowledge in research that we don't come to say we'll solve your problems -- -- with a widget with an LED, a 555 processor and runs on a lithium battery. It's not helping. Wilson Apeant -Ghana. Africa has a lot to offer. We should not focus only on the European countries helping Africa. In asset based interventions we need to find out what people have. That's their strength. One of the the things wrong in Africa is that we miss the indigenous strengths. We bring things from outside, plug them in and say because it worked there, it will work here. Instead we should be looking at some of the most amazing interventions that Africans do. They do these just because they need to have their own problems solved. In Mozambique we don't really have poverty because we have a lot of natural resources. The poverty is in our minds. We don't know how to exploit resources that we have, and then earn income for our lives. Alright, so that's a lot of the reasons why most ICT4D projects fail. In this ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit we've come not with answers but with questions. We've talked to a lot of tribal leaders, lots of educators and farmers. We don't want to spend a lot of money and energy on things that don't work. We want to figure out what really does work and what doesn't. We want your thoughts. Now that you've heard these ideas, we are curious about what you think? What would you add, what would you change, what additional ideas do you have? What can we do to work together to really do something that will make a difference? So here from Winneba, Ghana, we want to say once again -- thank you. Thanks to the EDULINK funding body, to the ACP Secretariat,the European Union-- to the University of Education of Winneba and all the Universities that are part of the ICT4D Consortium. We are looking forward to applying what we know to do something meaningful together. Thank you from all the students here. What are your thoughts? Are Most ICT4D Initiatives Failing? If so, Why do you Think They Don't Work? And What are Elements of ICT4D Projects that do "Work"? Will your Intervention Still have Value 10 or 100+ Years from Now? Are You Using Technology As the Starting Point? Or The Strengths / Needs of People? Do You Really Understand the Context & the Whole System? Are You Involving End Users in the Entire Process from Idea to Evaluation? Do People NEED What you Have Enough that They Want to Pay for It? Is the End User as a "POOR person we are Helping" or a "Rich Person we are Partnering With and Learning From"? Top 7 Reasons Why Most ICT4D Projects Fail. Produced by Dr. Clint Rogers.Transcription assistance by Giacomo Rambaldi and Professor Michael Weber.

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 1 second
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Dr. Clint Rogers
Director: Dr. Clint Rogers
Views: 1,474
Posted by: drclint on Apr 28, 2011

Dr. Clint Rogers shares interviews and insights from Teachers and Professionals around Africa for why they feel most ICT4D Projects FAIL? Included are important questions for reflection and discussion. Let's not waste time and money doing the same things that don't work --

Join the discussion, Your thoughts matter...

Much of the film was captured at the ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit and this video was first released for the 2010 IPID Meeting, later presented at the European Union EDULINK Stakeholders Event

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