Information Technology for Development: Volume 29, issues 2–3

IT for Development journal cover image
Information Technology for Development

This double issue of ITD considers emerging issues arising from Artificial intelligence (AI) and generative Machine Learning (ML), and their implications for socio-economic development, human agency and systems of survival. Taken as a whole, it offers a formative agenda that enables researchers to support positive cycles of development that account for the systems of survival needed for equitable AI implementations.

Read full issue (Taylor & Francis site)


Editorial: Cycles of development in systems of survival with artificial intelligence: a formative research agenda

Sajda Qureshi

Artificial intelligence (AI) may take over many functions performed by humans while offering new opportunities for socio-economic development. However, the unchecked ubiquitous adoption of generative Machine Learning (ML)that appears to assist humans while increasing job losses, inequities and threats to social institutions. Systems of survival are explored in the light of the synergies between governments who aim to protect their citizens and corporations who trade with them. Understanding how these processes affect human agency, particularly that of refugee populations whose data is harvested from their cellphones while they seek to build new lives in foreign lands. Their resilience, ingenuity and contributions to the global economy may hold the key to supporting positive cycles of development. A formative agenda is offered that enables researchers to support positive cycles of development that account for the systems of survival needed for equitable artificial intelligence implementations.

E-formality and data justice: the individualization of street trade in Recife, Brazil

Rui Roberto Ramos, Niall Hayes & Monideepa Tarafdar

Informal street trade has historically been seen by local authorities as backward, inefficient, and detrimental to urban areas and thus, has been subject to formalisation policies. This paper reports on an ethnographic study of a project that sought to formalise street trade in Recife (Brazil). Street trade was presented by the City Council as hindering urban mobility, unhygienic and detrimental to the development of the city. A spreadsheet was developed to record, license and enforce the formalisation of street trade. The spreadsheet and its classification scheme expanded the possibilities of control over individual street vendors. The authors argue that formalisation requires street traders to be rendered objects and subjects of knowledge. What this does is to individualise and discipline street trade. More substantially, the regulations and classification scheme shaped understandings of street trade as becoming individualised, and this led to some contradictory implications for urban street trade.

How do localized socio-economic platform ecosystems emerge?: a mobile platform to bring the market to villagers in Himalayan forests

Gaurav Dixit

Disasters like forest fires have become a persistent challenge in Himalayan regions due to highly inflammable Pine leaves. Solutions like producing bio-briquettes require involvement of local villagers, which depends on creating socio-economic and social entrepreneurship opportunities. The authors’ research addresses these challenges by developing and evaluating governance interventions to connect villagers with local market through a mobile app platform and shape an ecosystem. They conduct an interpretive case study based on literature on digital platform ecosystems and multi-sided platforms, and use activity theory to analyse case data on implementation of governance interventions and behaviour of ecosystem actors towards the challenge of producing and selling pine briquettes through the platform. The authors' findings suggest that characteristic features of a platform ecosystem running in a socio-economic setting differ substantially from commercial ecosystems. This research could be one of the first to contribute to digital platforms for development in a local socioeconomic context.

Exploring the gender gap in mobile money awareness and use: evidence from eight low and middle income countries

Travis W. Reynolds, Pierre E. Biscaye, C. Leigh Anderson, Caitlin O’Brien-Carelli & Joanna Keel

The authors used three waves of Financial Inclusion Insights surveys (2013–2016) to examine gender gaps in mobile money (MM) awareness and use across eight low- and middle-income countries. After accounting for socio-demographic factors (age, marriage, literacy, education, employment, income, and financial numeracy) and other enabling factors (mobile phone, formal identification, and bank account), they found no independent association between gender and MM use in established MM markets in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. In contrast, in emerging MM markets (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan), significant gender differences in MM use remained. Phone and bank account access had stronger associations with MM use for men than for women in these MM markets, and gender gaps in MM use increased over time. Findings suggest that realising the financial inclusion potential of MM may require a more nuanced understanding of difficult-to-measure and slow-to-change factors – such as legal and social norms – constraining women’s MM use.

E-Governance as good governance? evidence from 15 West African countries

Patience I. Akpan-Obong, Mai P. Trinh, Charles K. Ayo & Aderonke Oni

This research examines assumptions about the relationship between e-governance and governance in 15 West African countries through an analysis of the 2016 and 2018 World Governance Indicators (WGI) and E-government Development Index (EDGI), proxies for governance and e-governance, respectively. A Pearson correlation analysis demonstrates a significant positive correlation between WGI and EDGI. When disaggregated, however, some dimensions of governance fail to correlate with e-governance. Notably, governance indicators correlate positively with each other thus reinforcing the critical role of traditional institutions of governance in achieving good governance. The study concludes that while ICTs are effective in advancing the goals of governments, they achieve better outcomes when integrated with established institutions and structures of governance. It advances an understanding of the concepts of development and governance by providing empirical evidence of the prospects and limitations of ICTs in the administrative practices of governments, especially in geopolitical contexts of limited resources.

The potential of eParticipation in enlarging individual capabilities: a conceptual framework

Fernando Pinto, Marie Anne Macadar & Gabriela Viale Pereira

The success of citizens’ electronic participation, or eParticipation, depends not only on mitigating digital divide challenges, but also on facing socio-organizational issues such as citizen data privacy, ICT literacy, as well as citizen awareness and motivation to participate. Despite the efforts of several researchers to present models and frameworks for empirical applications based on the Capability Approach (CA), there remains a theoretical gap when searching for scientific work addressing the social aspects of ICT applications; more specifically, how to operationalise eParticipation for good governance through CA. Hence, aiming to investigate the potential of eParticipation initiatives to enlarge individual capabilities, the authors carried out an in-depth literature review. As a result, they propose a conceptual framework consisting of four propositions that can contribute toward how approach and discuss the role of eParticipation to create new synergies between technology and development, addressing the demands of people, promoting participatory governance, and fostering human development.

Inequalities of Indonesia’s regional digital development and its association with socioeconomic characteristics: a spatial and multivariate analysis

Fitri Kartiasih, Nachrowi Djalal Nachrowi, I Dewa Gede Karma Wisana & Dwini Handayani

Drawing on multivariate, spatial agglomeration, cluster analysis, and the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression, this paper aims to reveal the spatial inequalities in the digital development of households and individuals at 460 districts/cities in Indonesia and its association with socioeconomic characteristics. The results show a significant district digital divide characterised by a decline of regional digital development index (RDDI) values from the west to the east and from core cities to more peripheral ones. Cities with high RDDI values are mainly concentrated in large metropolitan areas in western Indonesia, whereas districts with low values tend to concentrate in rural-mountainous regions, remote areas, and archipelagos in eastern Indonesia. However, the digital divide declined from 2015 to 2019, indicating that Indonesian regions are becoming more digitally convergent. Education, gross regional domestic product (GRDP) per capita, population, and the number of formal workers have a positive and significant impact on RDDI.

Does information and communication technology really affect human development? An empirical analysis

Yuri Zelenkov & Elizaveta Lashkevich

Positive effect of information and communication technology (ICT) on human development (HD) is not guaranteed simply by the availability of technology; this gap is especially pronounced for developing countries. Using the Capability Approach framework, the authors collected data from 115 countries for 2019. They tested a sample to determine stable groups of countries and split the dataset into two groups, which homogeneity differs significantly. Finally, they estimated the hypotheses predicting the influence of ICT on HD for both groups using a path modelling technique. The authors' results confirm the significant positive contribution of ICT on all kinds of conversion factors (CFs), except social ones in developing countries. However, the way to transform capabilities into functionings differs. In developing countries, ICT contributes to HD at the individual level only. For developed countries, ICT contributes more to social CFs and less to personal ones.

Blockchain technology prospects in transforming Ghana’s economy: a phenomenon-based approach

Elijah Asante Boakye, Hongjiang Zhao & Bright Nana Kwame Ahia

A phenomenon-based approach is used to learn more about how blockchain technology could improve Ghana’s economic sectors in terms of cost savings, efficiency, and reliability with reduced risks. Proposing blockchain-enabled frameworks, the authors describe how blockchains’ Internet-of-Things (IoTs) and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) might reduce transaction, contract, and monitoring-related costs in the Agriculture & Agro-processing sector’s supply chains. They also demonstrate how Smart Contracts (SMCs) and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) can improve time and cost-based efficiencies in local procurements, logistic contract execution, and supply chains across the Mining & Minerals processing sector. With the help of IoTs, DLTs, and SMCs, information asymmetries in the finance sector can be reduced to improve the financing for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The Technological-Organizational-Environmental (TOE) elements remain crucial in the adoption of blockchain technology. As a result, it is critical to provide adequate frameworks for blockchain adoption.

Impacts of ICT and digital finance on poverty and income inequality: a sub-national study from India

Simontini Das & Amrita Chatterjee

The present paper explores both the direct and indirect impact of ICT diffusion through the channel of digital finance on two development indicators such as poverty and income inequality at the sub-national level in India. Ordered probit estimation confirms that ICT diffusion directly reduces the persistence of poverty in both urban and rural areas. The application of ICT in the banking sector in the form of digital finance has a positive role in rural-urban poverty reduction. ICT has no direct impact on income inequality, though financial inclusion has a positive influence on both rural and urban inequality. ICT diffusion in the banking sector dampens the positive impact of financial inclusion on urban inequality with no impact on rural inequality. Proposed policy prescription can be strengthening of ICT infrastructure with wider and uniform spread of digital finance among rural and urban population so that more people can take advantage of it.

ICT adoption, bank performance & development in Sub-Saharan Africa: a dynamic panel analysis

Ekene S. Aguegboh, Chinonso V. Agu & Vivian I. Nnetu-Okolieuwa

This paper examines the effect of information and communication technology on bank performance and development in the Sub-Saharan African banking industry. We employ a generalised method of moments technique with a panel data of 35 sub-Saharan African countries on the access and use of automated teller machines, mobile money transactions, return on assets, returns on earning, and net interest margin. The results reveal that while the access and use of automated teller machines are negatively associated with return on assets, they have positive and significant effects on return on earning and net interest margin. The findings suggest that information and communication technology adoption affects bank performance mainly in the short run. We conclude that the discrepancy in how it affects return on assets compared to return on earnings and net interest margin is mainly based on how bank performance is measured.