Posted to the Ethnos Project by on January 30th, 2014

Community participation in ICT-for-development (ICT4D) is sometimes portrayed as a ‘magic bullet’, which will inevitably lead to better project outcomes and the empowerment of marginalised participants from the local community. This paper takes a critical approach to participation, drawing on dual roots of participation in Development Studies and Information Systems, to consider whether apparently successful ICT4D projects, that follow best-practice for participation, are also succeeding in longer-term participant and community empowerment. The paper identifies issues and success factors relevant to participatory ICT4D and its potentially empowering role for local communities; explores the relevance of these factors to the reality of ICT4D projects in developing countries; and investigates the potential for producing an analytical framework that incorporates a project design approach that could help practitioners in the field incorporate empowerment objectives.

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