Application of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) in a rural community in Kenya: An ethnographic approach

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Githinji, Rosabel Wanjiku
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Social Practice
Unitec Institute of Technology
Connor, Helene
Elliott, Sue
Papoutsaki, Evangelia
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Information and Communication Technologies for Development
development communication
participatory ethnographic research
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Githinji, R. W. (2011). Application of information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) in a rural community in Kenya: An ethnographic approach. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Practice). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
There is growing evidence of the positive role ICTs can play in development particularly in rural areas of developing countries through the use of public services in the form of telecentres. Emphasis is now placed on proactive measures to ensure ICTs serve as effective tools for social inclusion and 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), which was established in 2003 by a development organization. In order to place this research within the broader development context, the extensive literature review presents a historical overview of development communication, its starting point, theories and current applications in order to provide a platform for examining the role that ICTs can play in the field of development. 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 the communicative ecology approach developed by J. Tacchi in evaluating communication and ICTs for development. In this study, ICTs, particularly traditional ICTs (radio and television) can significantly contribute to improving people’s living conditions by making information available that will help solve real problems they encounter. 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. However, the findings of this study showed that development meant different things to the participants, which is also reflected in development related literature. Therefore, development should be looked at as subjective and contextual. The study shows that the context and institutional framework for ICTs in Kenya is changing, which reflects the government’s commitment to prepare, especially, rural communities to be part of the information society. Despite this, a gap exists between the aspirations of policy makers and the reality in rural areas owing to the poor state of ICT and general infrastructure.
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