New project: Academic Partnership with Vienna University of Technology and University Maputo

Another new project of has already started officially and will be running for a while now.

It’s a partnership with the Vienna University of Technology and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo – Mozambique (UEM) and the official title is

Strengthening universities’ capacities for improved access, use and application of ICT for social development and economic growth in Mozambique“.

The project is funded by the APPEAR-program of the Austrian Development Agency and we’re very happy about that! It officially started this July and will go on for two years until June 2014.

Here’s an abstract about the project objectives from the application:

This proposed project is designed to strengthen capacity and infrastructure at the partner institution, the Department of Mathematics and Informatics of the Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), while Vienna University of Technology (TUW) in Austria will provide specialist competency as a research partner in this effort. The not-for-profit organisation will support as a subcontractor of TUW. The expected results are a higher quality of education offered by the department of Mathematics and Informatics at UEM and a strengthening of the research capacities to produce research outputs of relevance to the Mozambique strategic economic sectors for rural development and poverty reduction. The improvement of the information technology programmes and infrastructure, coupled with a sustainable research partnership between UEM and TUW, is the main development goal to be achieved by the establishment of this project, so that the practical results can be made sustainable for the process of teaching, research and contribution to the Mozambican private sector, civil sector and economy as a whole.

The project supports the thematic focus of this call with four specific objectives. […]

Improving university infrastructure to provide the basis for a high quality study programme and research activities” […]

Developing educational programmes by improving the quality of teaching, learning, research and gender equality” […]

Establishing a sustainable partnership between UEM & TUW to collaborate on projects and research outputs relevant to the needs of the university and strategic economic sectors in Mozambique for rural development and poverty reduction with ICT” […]

Enhancing the local intellectual property transfer office at UEM to guarantee the application of research findings to the society and economy, leading to sustainable social development and economic growth after the project period

It’s an ambitious project and we have a motivated project team with Prof. Mosse, Prof. Shindyapin and Ms. Mara from UEM, Prof. Grechenig and Paul Pöltner from TUW and members Joanna Knueppel, Isabella Wagner, Margarete Grimus, Fritz Grabo and myself, Florian Sturm.

We’ll start a project blog shortly where we will post updates and preliminary results of the project. When it’s ready we’ll make an announcement here. Of course we’ll also cross-post relevant content on this blog.

Right now we are mainly planning the first visits to Mozambique – Isabella Wagner will write the first main report on the spot and later, together with Paul Pöltner and Prof. Grechenig and UEM officials there will be the first big in-person meeting in Maputo.

We’re excited that this project – our biggest so far – has started now and we’re looking forward to a fruitful partnership with UEM and TUW! Hopefully our contribution will help UEM to make better use of the countries ICT capacity and let the people of Mozambique benefit.

If you know about any initiatives in Mozambique and especially around Maputo making use of ICT please let us know – either in the comments, on Twitter or write us a mail. Thanks!

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New project: Academic Partnership with Vienna University of Technology and University Maputo
was published on 17.08.2012 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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ICTD2010 pre-conference – interesting & critical views

As already mentioned in a previous post, we are supporting Ineke Buskens and her team in the pre-conference to this year’s biggest ICT4D/ICTD conference – ICTD2010.

Everybody has the chance to participate there and we’re especially interested in “voices from the South” about what ICT4D/ICTD should and shouldn’t be. The texts sent in will be discussed in an own session at ICTD2010 conference, so even when you can’t come physically, you can make your voice heard!

Several researchers have already taken the chance to publish their views and here’s some links to interesting texts which might inspire you to comment or write your own text:

  • Oum Kalthoum Ben Hassine raising the question The ICTs: for what kind of development? (English / French / Arabic)

If development concerns the sole economic growth, unlimited gain and extreme profit, ICTD will mean “ICT development in the north” and the development of markets dedicated for ICT products and tools, where unbridled conquest of new markets will target more and more developing countries within the framework of what we call “technology transfer”. This type of development has generated and still generates the “left behind”, excluded and marginalized, the third and fourth worlds, all excluded from progress and well being. [read more]

  • Lina Abou-Habib presenting her thoughts on Researching ICT4D and/on ICT4T: On women, activism, transformation and ICT in MENA (English)

In replacing D (development) by T (transformation), the intent is not simply stylistic or superfluous! It is intended to reflect how many women, including myself, define development. In this case, I will define development as the right to have rights and the freedom to have and exercise choices. These are conditions sine qua none for development. For women, this means literally a transformation from a position of subordination and dependence to that of power and autonomy. [read more]

  • Anne Webb sharing her critical remarks: How can ICT use strengthen movements for equality and social justice in the land of power and money? (English / French)

In my work with gender researchers who are exploring relationships between women’s empowerment and ICT, I see ICTs as additional tools at women’s disposal. These are tools that could, can and do increase our ways and means of communicating. […] We can design and use them to reinforce and expand our efforts to imagine and create a better world for women, a more equitable globe for all, environmentally sustainable socio-economic systems, and so forth.

But these electronic devices and platforms are tools to be used by any (who can access, afford and understand them) to their advantage. They are primarily developed and used in the interests of our current unsustainable, inequitable and destructive socio-economic system. [read more]

  • Susan Bakesha introducing examples on the ambivalent possibilities of ICT usage in ICTs are a double edged sword: Tele-mothering vs tele-murdering (English)

The term development has been defined differently by many scholars. However, all definitions allude to one point: making life better. Proponents of ICT4D argue that ICTs play a pivotal role in supporting underdeveloped countries to achieve development in all spheres of life; political, economic and social. [read more]

So if you’re hungry for food for thought – just check out the ICTD2010 pre-conference platform, read the texts, comment on them (discussion pages are open to everyone) and if you want to have your own text published, send a mail to Ineke Buskens or me.

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ICTD2010 pre-conference – interesting & critical views
was published on 24.11.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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ICTD2010 Pre-conference – we want to hear your voice!

In the run up of the biggest ICT4D / ICTD conference this yearICTD2010 in London – we have been supporting the organizers in setting up a pre-conference platform.

The aim of this platform is to give people who can’t participate at the conference the possibility to share their ideas and to “raise the voice of the South“, listening to the needs and critical voices of people affected by ICT4D / ICTD.

People can send in one-pagers which will be posted and then discussed – first on the platform and finally also at a session of the ICTD2010 conference.

The main facilitator of the platform is Ineke Buskens, a gender, research and facilitation consultant living in the Western Cape, South Africa. Her introductory text to the platform – Bridging the Divides – is well worth a read. In there she states that the

lack of shared understanding of the main thrust and purpose of the ICTD or ICT4D project could be the main obstacle towards seeing the ICTD community evolve in such a way that we are all able to ‘celebrate one another’s unique strengths’

Furthermore she raises the question

what does development actually mean in ICTD? Does ICTD mean development of ICTs for the developing world? Does it mean developing markets for ICT products and tools in the developing world? Or does it mean engaging development with and through the use of ICTs in and with the developing world?

To contribute to this question and to bring in an often ignored perspective, she asks everybody

to contribute by sharing what they really and passionately want to share, having a southern perspective in their focus and the interest of the South in their heart, whether they are located in the South, in the North, or in both.

These contributions should be small texts – approximately one page. Two questions which she raises to kick-start this whole process are:

1) What are the ICT4D Research Needs in the developing world from a developing world perspective and why would you think so? Please be concrete and specific and go beyond general categories such as ‘health’, education etc.

2) What action projects have taken place in the developing world that were actually successful research projects, in the sense that they met a real need in a real way (and hence acted on valid and appropriate tacit knowledge) but did not have the ‘knowledge quest component’ worked out enough in their narrative to be recognized as research? Can you come up with examples and sketch what you think the knowledge quest would have been if it had been made explicit from the start?

So if you have answers to the questions and if you have something to say about these topics, please send in one-pagers to Ineke Buskens ( or Florian Sturm ( and join the discussion on the platform (the Discussion section is open for everybody). We are looking forward to your input.

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ICTD2010 Pre-conference – we want to hear your voice!
was published on 21.10.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Biggest ICT4D / ICTD conference this year: ICTD2010 London

This year in December the probably biggest and most important ICT4D / ICTD conference this year will take place in London. Tim Unwin and Dorothea Kleine (both from Royal Holloway University) have gathered people from around the world to help them in pulling in as many opinions and viewpoints as possible from as many individuals and organizations as possible to make the conference a rich and helpful experience for the whole ICT4D / ICTD scene.

It aims to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners and all those with interests in the use of information and communication technologies in development practice to meet to discuss the latest research advances in the field. [from the ICTD2010 page]

Keynote speaker so far announced include Sir Tim Berners Lee (Director of W3C) and Lídia Brito (Director of Science Policy Division, UNESCO), furthermore the who is who of the international ICT4D / ICTD research and practitioner scene will be present there.

We at are also contributing to the conference – currently by providing technical assistance for the pre-conference activites (to be announced), and at the conference with doing audio, video and web 2.0 coverage of what’s happening there. Furthermore we are advertising the event through our channels – so click the ICTD2010 London web page link here and make sure you attend the conference. Once again the dates:


What: ICTD2010 conference

Where: Royal Holloway University, London

When: 12. to 16. December 2010


For everybody interested in ICT4D / ICTD research and networking it’s probably the place to be this year. Registration opens soon, hope to see you there!

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Biggest ICT4D / ICTD conference this year: ICTD2010 London
was published on 09.04.2010 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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ICT4D sessions at CHI 2010

Thomas Smyth and others have shared some very valuable compilations of ICT4D-related sessions that will be held at CHI 2010, which starts tomorrow. Below is an edited summary of the events. If you are interested in HCI-related announcements and discussions, join the HCI4D Google group.

11:30-13:00 Panel: Addressing Challenges in Doing International Field Research

9:00-10:30 HCI and India session, with three HCI4D papers, including one best paper
11:30-13:00 Panel: Computing Technology in International Development
14:30-16:00 Crisis Informatics with papers on Liberia and Iraq
16:30-18:00 HCI for All session with a very interesting paper on Post-colonial computing

9:00-10:30 Storytelling session with some work from Gary Marsden‘s group; also the Social Impact Award session
14:30-16:00 Medical data session with a paper on health and persuasion (also a best paper); also Imagine all the people alt.chi session with paper on Rwanda
16:30-18:00 HCI, Communities, and Politics panel, which is not specific to HCI4D, but very relevant

14:30-16:00 HCI and the Developing World session

11.30-14.30 GVU research showcase in the Technology Square Research Building, demonstrating work by the Technologies and International Development lab

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ICT4D sessions at CHI 2010
was published on by Martin Tomitsch. It files under global
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Notes from the Workshop on Ethics, Roles and Relationships in Interaction Design in Developing Regions

Yesterday, the workshop Ethics, Roles and Relationships in Interaction Design in Developing Regions took place in Uppsala, Sweden and around the world, as people where joining presentations and discussions online including from the UK, Madeira, and Malaysia. The workshop is part of the INTERACT2009 conference, which takes place from 24-28 August.

Eight very interesting papers were presented and discussed during the workshop. For example, Andy Dearden raised the question of how to analyse the risks of unintended consequences; Maira Carvalho investigated different approaches for designing interactive systems at a distance, where researchers don’t have access to the users; Chu Yin Wong presented a user-centred design process for developing a mobile community service addressing the deaf in Malaysia; Eugene Danilkis and Sofia Nunes presented results from their field research on mobile banking in Mozambique; Pam McLean talked about the work she is doing at Dadamac, and how this can benefit researchers.

An important issue that Ida Horner raised in her presentation, and which we have also experienced during our work in Zanzibar, was the importance of doing research in the field and familiarising yourself with the environment, before implementing anything. Ida stressed that it is particularly important to understand how communities are organised. Otherwise researchers run into conflicts before they even started.

Overall, I expected the workshop to focus more on interaction design and experiences regarding methodologies, while most of the discussions that followed each presentation focused on ethical issues, often raising high-level problems that interaction designers might not always be able to solve. These issues were also reflected by the workshop themes, but the questions that remained for me where: what is the role of interaction designers in developing regions, how is it different to their role in more traditional contexts, and what are appropriate methodologies?

An interesting discussion emerged around problem solving, which seems to be a very engineering/technology-driven approach, and whether this approach is appropriate in a developing context. Are interaction designers solving problems? And are researchers bound to only generate new knowledge and understanding, but not supposed to solve problems? Although being an academic I personally don’t completely agree on that, but maybe that is only because I always had one foot in industry projects as well. I would be interested to hear others’ opinions on this.

We also presented our paper Designing an SMS-based application for seaweed farmers in Zanzibar (and why it failed for now) at the Workshop. In this paper we discuss a project that we started, while we were in Tanzania again last year, working on the Hello Africa movie. The project described in the paper was not successful measured by our initial goals. It was successful given the insights that we gained by applying a user-centred design approach in the field. The aim of the paper is to share our conclusions of why the project failed, since we believe that many projects in an African context might experience similar challenges. Below are the slides from our presentation.

All workshop papers are available from here. Many thanks to Andy Dearden and Niall Winters for organising this event! It’s a really valuable step towards better understanding the roles and ethical issues interaction designers need to be aware of in developing contexts.

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Notes from the Workshop on Ethics, Roles and Relationships in Interaction Design in Developing Regions
was published on 25.08.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under global
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New Journal of ICT Research and Development in Africa

The International Journal of ICT Research and Development in Africa (IJICTRDA) is a new journal on research, advanced analytical methods and techniques, leading e-innovations, and development policies in information and communication technology adoption and diffusion in Africa and around the globe.

Topics that will be covered in the journal include ICT applications in agriculture and rural development, agribusiness supply chain management, coordination and integration, food security, poverty alleviation, food and agricultural marketing linkages, and rural financial service delivery.

The Editor-in-Chief currently invites authors to consider submitting articles to be featured in the inaugural issue of the journal. Articles may report on empirical research investigations, theoretical frameworks, case studies and major trends in ICT applications in food and agriculture, and rural development.

Being member of the Editorial Advisory Board of IJICTRDA, I’m especially looking forward to seeing submissions on case studies with an emphasis on interaction design and the design process in general. We will also cover published articles on this weblog, once the first journal is out.

For more information visit the publisher website or see the journal brochure.

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New Journal of ICT Research and Development in Africa
was published on 28.05.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under sub saharan africa
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Ethnography and design (notes from a talk)

A few days ago I attended a talk by Jeanette Blomberg at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Jeanette worked at Xerox PARC in the 80s and is currently at IBM research. The talk was about ethnography and design, based on her experience from working as an ethnographer in a technology context for the last 25 years.

Since ethnographic research is really relevant for the design of ICT4D solutions and probably most of our readers have used ethnographic methods themselves in their work before, I decided to post a short summary of my notes here.

Jeanette started with a nice introduction about ethnographic research and presented the following principles of ethnography:

  • study activities in their everyday settings
  • focus on relations among activities and people (interactions) and not on single tasks or isolated individuals
  • descriptive accounts of activity
  • member’s point of view
  • focus on what people do

She further emphasized how ethnography should be seen as a collection of multiple methods for collecting data, including informal interviews, observations, self-reporting, video analysis, artifact analysis, etc. It’s also important to “adjust as you go”, since ethnography is a very improvisational approach, which requires iteration. This is a very important issue in my opinion and something that I personally often find difficult to implement in an academic context, where you have to define your research approach in detail beforehand.

Another interesting insight that I took away from this presentation was that participatory design (PD) is often used as ethnographic method, meaning that ethnographers don’t only observe people without interfering (one of the myths about ethnography), but also involve them in the design process. Apparently a joining of PD and ethnography happened in the middle 80s.

PD in an ICT4D context has been done (e.g. for developing community radios), but as Gary Marsden said during a session on mobile interaction design at last year’s MobileActive conference, it often doesn’t work to involve users for informing the design process in developing countries. Or more specific, the context and hence the requirements are different to developed countries, where PD and user-centered design (UCD) have been successfully applied and explored for many decades.

The talk ended with a discussion of how both technologies and goals have changed over time. Technology is currently developing towards an anytime/anywhere approach and technology-enabled services. (Very true for ICT4D.) Goals have changed from improving the quality of work life (in the 80s) to designing more usable and useful technologies, and more success products. Recent trends show that now the most important goal often is to design more sustainable (“green”) products. (Again, something that is very true for ICT4D, considering that resources are scarce in developing countries.)

Thanks to Jeanette Blomberg for this really insightful talk and thanks to UTS for organizing the event.

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Ethnography and design (notes from a talk)
was published on 28.03.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under global
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As some of our readers already know I moved to Sydney in the beginning of this year to join the Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning at the University of Sydney.

Since my position involves teaching as well as research (40% of my working time as I learned today), I will also push forward research on ICT4D (in the context of interaction design and HCI) as one of my research streams.

The group where I’m working also just started a very exciting master program, called M.IDEA, which stands for Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts. Check out the program here and an interview that I gave recently here.

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was published on 18.03.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under oceania
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ICT4D related conference and workshop

A quick note on two events that were announced recently: The 1st International Conference on Mobile Development (mDEVELOPMENT 2009) will take place in Barcelona 2-4 September 2009. It seems that the conference has emerged from last years mLife event , where they held a session on mobile development.

The other event is a workshop organized by Matt Jones and Gary Marsden on the theme “Taking Ubicomp Beyond Developed Worlds” (Globi-Comp 2009). The workshop will be held at the Ubicomp 2009 conference, which I find really exciting, since I’ve previously published at this conference myself. It’s really about time that ICT4D establishes its place in this community.

The events have also been added to our list of conferences.

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ICT4D related conference and workshop
was published on 13.03.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under global
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