Reasons Why ICT4D Projects Fail

In the following video, professionals from Africa explain why they think many ICT4D projects fail. It shows their perspectives on ICT4D and highlights 7 of the main reasons for failure.

The 7 reasons stated in the video are:

1. Ideas/results not directly tied to improving economic condition of end user

2. Not relevant to local context/strengths/needs

3. Not understanding infrastructure capability

4. Underestimating maintenance costs and issues

5. Projects only supported by short term grants

6. Not looking at the whole system

7. Project built on condescending assumptions

These seven reasons for ICT4D failure encompass much of what we have discussed in class. Some of the specific things that the people in the video talk about go into greater detail in terms of this succinct list. For example, one community organizer discusses how many projects are designed outside of the community without enough initial research or understanding of how the society works. Not only do they not do enough before, sometimes they come in with an attitude of superiority and the notion that they will be teaching the people there how to use technology, instead of working with them to see how it can be of the greatest benefit to them. Just as Richard Heeks argues, many ICT4D projects have a one-size-fits-all approach and do not take into consideration that each context is unique and some things don’t work everywhere.

The video also discusses the need for developed infrastructure to support projects. One man speaks of power outages and how they are an accepted reality in many communities. People are used to the power going out without warning and do not expect notice in advance. Another ICT professional discusses how his community received 40 computers and now none of them work. They were given as gifts, but their maintenance could not be paid for so they are out of use now. This is an example of an underestimation of costs. The biggest overarching problem that seems to be recurring in the video -and in actual ICT4D projects- is that the project designers and implementers do not fully understand the culture and the problems that need to be addressed. This will continue to be the biggest issue until ICT4D projects work more closely with communities and are led by members from the bottom-up.

One response to “Reasons Why ICT4D Projects Fail

  • clairedwyre

    I agree that one of the biggest issues is that many ICT4D projects need to work more closely with the community and understand their cultures and what the community actually needs. I did work in South Africa and one of our biggest issues was crossing the Xhosa language barrier to explain to the cooperative what we were doing to make sure they were okay with it and it coincided with their needs.

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