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Application of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) to Rural Communities in Kenya


Rosabel Wanjiku Githinji

Abstract

There is growing evidence of the positive role ICTs can play in development, particularly in rural areas of developing countries using public services in the form of telecentres. Emphasizing proactive measures ensures ICTs serve as effective tools for social inclusion, social change, and widespread access, especially for the poor and disadvantaged communities. This research study explores the application of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) in a rural community in Kenya, by evaluating the Nguruman Community Knowledge Center (CKC), established in 2003 by a development organization. This study uses a participatory ethnographic research method that combines participatory techniques and ethnographic research, with the potential of feeding into action research. The research makes use of the communicative ecology approach in evaluating communication and ICTs for development. In this study, ICTs, particularly traditional ICTs (radio and television) significantly contribute to improving people’s living conditions by making information available that helps in solving real problems encountered. The expectations of community members who use these ICTs reflect their level of understanding of the relationship that exists between these tools and the improvement of their living conditions as well as enhancing development efforts. The study shows that the context and institutional framework for ICTs in Kenya are changing which reflects the government’s commitment to be part of the information society especially in rural communities. Despite this, a gap exists between the aspirations of policymakers and the reality in rural areas owing to the poor state of ICT and general infrastructure.