The Swedish Spider Web

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Spider is a program out of Stockholm University which aims to support the use of ICT4D and poverty alleviate through project sponsorship and support in developing countries, with a primary focus on the “twelve priority countries” for Swedish development cooperation (Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia). Spider mainly supports projects related to the enhancement of democracy and the improvement of education and health services, which correlate with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. I think its important to consider ICT4D as a means to achieve and end goal and not a end in and of itself. There’s a reason increasing Worldwide Internet Access isn’t a MDG!  In order for a development project to be successful,  the target population must be in demand of the service to be given (such as vaccines or textbooks). In Richard Heeks’ article ICT and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?, the author addresses the controversial issue of developed, wealthy countries proposing a single, relatively inflexible path to development that they themselves did not pursue. Why should developing countries have to follow this agenda? Who says it is the right one to follow? The same goes for ICT. There’s no use in seeking to implement technology where there’s no demand or infrastructure to support it. Spider’s framework theoretically overcomes this obstacle in that it focuses in three main areas (democracy, education, and health) where there is a demand and a distinct possibility for the tangible application of technology for development and poverty alleviation purposes, with longterm results. With four “Networks” (hence the spiderweb metaphor), Spider aims to promote “synergistic collaboration and cross-breeding” based on geographic location of development theme. This allows experience and expertise to inform the various projects: “in addition to supporting and advising each other, the projects also feel that they are part of a greater effort, the compound impact of which surpasses individual parts”.

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One response to “The Swedish Spider Web

  • vceaser

    I think your brought up two extremely important points that sometimes get overlooked in the world of development. The first is that IT is a means for a development goal and not an end; and the second is that development is not one size fits all. I also think its interesting that Sweden admits they’ve targeted countries that their own corporations would benefit from but are also needing work in development. Transparency is key. The US targets countries they would benefit from but tend to keep it “hush hush” and also tend to exploit them.

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