Throughout the last decades a high proportion of ICT4D projects have failed in their implementation. Although this has caused a great setback in the development of communities around the world it is important to gather lessons from these ventures and use the experience obtained to create effective projects in the future. Based on this idea I believe that the article “6 Simple Guidelines for ICT4D Project Success” by Ajay Kumar in the ICT4D blog www.ictworks.org although not a scholar article provides important information for project developers. The article provides 6 basic qualities every project should have in order to be successful. Ajay Kumar provides this guidelines based on his experience on the field which includes working for the NGO Grameen Development Services.
Kumar prompts project managers to follow these 6 points when designing and implementing their projects.
1. Invest some time to understand the problem and hear it directly from the concerned parties and communities
- Kumar argues that often ICT4D project developers develop solutions to problems without considering the way in which the community will interact with their project and the only way to accurately make sure that the projects will be useful to the community is by making sure they are part of the creation of the project
2. Ask yourself: Is technology really needed here? Or is there a solution lying elsewhere?
- Kumar points out that rather than looking specifically for the technology needed to solve each problem project developers should first ponder if there is an easier or more viable solution even if it does not involve the use of ICTs.
3. Study what technologies are already lying around or have been used by “concerned parties” or communities and how they are currently using it.
- Each project shouldn’t not be based on completely new ideas, existing projects, especially those that have been successful should be analyzed and their techniques should be used in order to understand the target community will be affected by the project that is going to be implemented.
4. Can your solution be built using existing technology that the people(“concerned parties” or community) already use? If not, try to spend a decent amount of time to find the answer to this question again. Chances are, it’s possible.
- It is important to try to import the least amount of technology imports as possible. This is because often local technologies are often overlooked and even if they are not as modern as new technologies the target community is often trained in their use and using them can be more effective.
5. Keep in mind that your solution should require minimal (or no training) i.e. The focus should be on a lower barrier to entry & a decreased learning curve.
- Kumar points out that many previous projects fail because even though the technology is brought to developing communities there is a lack of knowledge in how to effectively use them and thus the projects become ineffective. By designing a project to require the lowest amount of training possible it is more likely that the target population will utilize the community and the project will be effective.
6. Build your solution in a way that you wouldn’t be needed at all after the implementation.
- Finally, Kumar stresses the importance of the sustainability of a project for it to be effective. An effective ICT4D project will not need the project manager forever; rather it is vital for the project to be managed and run by the target community in the long-run. Thus training the locals to run the projects and eventually putting it in their hands should be part of the project timeline.
Personally, I believe that Kumar’s suggestions hit a strong point in the world of ICT4D. Many projects have failed in the past and in order to not repeat these failures it is important to analyze what they did wrong and find solutions to those mistakes.