The report is part of an ongoing process led and supported by Plan Finland and USA to support country offices in Africa to apply ICTs more strategically and effectively to development goals. A previous research project supported by Plan Finland culminated in the ‘Mobiles for Development Guide’ in 2009I, which aims to inspire and support country office staff to understand the potential of mobile technologies to support and enhance their work. Following the success of this report, key staff working on ICTs in regional and northern offices facilitated a process for country office staff to reflect and plan further, not just on the use of mobiles but on all types of ICT devices and applications.
The report explains the concept of ICT-enabled development, and the reasons why it is important for Plan, and other development organisations, to take on board. With so many ICT tools and applications now available, the job of a development organisation is no longer to compensate for lack of access but to find innovative and effective ways of putting the tools to development ends. This means not only developing separate projects to install ICTs in underserved communities, but looking at key development challenges and needs with an ICT eye, asking “how could ICTs help to overcome this problem?”
The checklist provides 10 key areas to think about when planning for this kind of ICT-enabled development, to ensure that ICT use is both linked to real development needs and priorities, and appropriate to the target group. The report also draws on observations and learning from the workshops and research to illustrate these issues and provide examples (of both methodologies and experiences), which can help to orient others undertaking a similar planning or assessment process. Finally, the report explores some of the organisational issues involved in making the strategic use of ICT a routine part of Plan’s work. Other information generated through the workshops and interviews, including detail of Plan’s current development work with ICT in Africa, is included as additional material.