The ICT4Accountability project successfully transformed from a theoretical blog into a practical method – Called TRAC FM – that is now deployed in 4 african countries at over 36 radio stations in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia.
As the concept of TRAC FM is based on research conducted in 2009, we are happy that our work in the field remains relevant to academic debate. UK based IDS (Institute for Development Studies) is a leading global charity for international development research, teaching and communications. In 2012 IDS was asked by Hivos to conduct research into the effectiveness of T4TAIs. TRAC FM was picked as a case study and worked with IDS to share data and contacts.
PC TECH magazine is one of the first tech magazines in Africa and the only one in Uganda. I spoke with the editor in chief about the Trac FM platform I have been setting up in the past year. It gives a good impression of Trac FM. I am currently working on an evaluation report of the past year. Learn more about Trac FM on http://www.trac.pro
You can contact me directly through firstname.lastname@example.org
In Uganda, even at the peoples parliament of Ekimeeza, where intellectuals are supposed to be gathered, there is a substantial lack of numbers, statistics and measurable facts. People have not mastered advanced counting and have no logical perception of values and numbers. 2000 – 500 = a big problem for a lot of people. So how can they fully understand the bigger picture of the situation they are in? When they are presented with a series of numbers, for instance the amount of money coming in to the country through development aid or the amount of tax money spent on government housing, there are very few who can comprehend what is meant by 400 million dollars or 700.000 Euro. Read more…
In this post I will dig a little deeper in the implications of current development aid and how it is related to the lack of power African citizens have over their government. Most people know this discussion through the writings of Dambisa Moyo in her recent book ‘Dead Aid’. Although I do not agree with the solutions suggested by Moyo, I do acknowledge some of the problems she puts forward.
Foreign Aid and Democracy
Democracy as we know it evolves from mutual dependency of the elite and the general public. They depend on each other in order to create a stable economy which will benefit all.
In their symbiosis, the general public produces commodities which the elite collect and distribute. When either of the two does not perform their task well, one is able to hold the other accountable for not sticking to the deal. Elites can punish civilians who do not pay tax or disobey the law, civilians can demonstrate and vote for another government if tax money is not spent according to their needs.
This extremely simplified description of modern democracy will hopefully help to explain why problems can arise from foreign aid flooding in to a state. Foreign aid can complicate and eventually erode the dependency relations between government and civilians. This disruption of dependency relations eventually leads to governments who are over sensitive when it comes to foreign investors. Citizens will not generate as much wealth as foreign parties, so accountability of government processes shift toward these investors (Aid, Chinese investments, sale of natural resources to international corporations etc.). Citizens are less valuable to the elite and in the historically weak democracies of Africa, civil society will be hesitant to demand rights they have never known. In other words; Foreign aid can ‘short circuit’ the link between government and civil society and obfuscate the democratic process.
When discussing the use, effects and possibilities of ICTs in Africa, one needs to follow the ICT4Development (ICT4D) discourse. Professor Richard Heeks coined the term in the late 90s. In a recent paper named ‘the ICT4D 2.0 Manifesto’ Professor Heeks reevaluates ICT4D and discusses the lessons learnt from 10 years of ICT4D activity. According to Professor Heeks, ICT4D is moving into a next phase where new technologies, new approaches to innovation and implementation and new intellectual perspectives will change the way ICTs are used to improve the livelihoods of the world’s poor. As one of the founding academics developing the field of ICT4D, Heeks is a heavyweight academic and has a clear and influential view on the development of the academic discourse covering ICT4D.
Professor Heeks believes that within the new approach of ICT4D 2.0, some rebalancing will take place in the way the needs of the poor will be addressed through the use of ICTs. Instead of a rigorous hands-on approach in providing ICT hardware for the poor, more recognition will be given to the importance of collaboration with local partners and issues of governance in shaping the outcomes of ICT4D. Whereas the rural tele-centre was seen as the quick and ‘off-the-shelf’ solution in the ICT4D 1.0 era, ICT4D 2.0 will use the lessons learnt from this period and adhere to the watchwords of sustainability, scalability and evaluation to avoid the trap of replicating Western ICT models for a quick fix in the development of poor countries. Read more…