Track chairs

  • Reima Suomi (reima.suomi[at], University of Turku, Finland)
  • Ebenezer Laizer (ebenezer.g.laizer[at], University of Turku, Finland)
  • Siwel Yohakim Nyamba (siyote[at], Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania)
  • Paul van Asperen (p.c.m.vanasperen[at], University of Twente, the Netherlands)
  • Rohan Bennett (rohanbennett[at], Swinburne University, Australia)

Research area

Earlier, only a few areas enter into the ICT4D-discourse. This track will cover new domains that need attention including agriculture, land administration and public financial management.

Agriculture: The productivity of agriculture and rural sector is much lower than its potential. ICTs can help them maximize the return on inputs. ICTs can also warn farmers about potential risks from pests and adverse weather condition. Unfortunately, many farmers in developing countries have little or no access to the ICT applications that could help them increase their outputs and sell their produce at a reasonable price. Agricultural informatics is an emerging field which combines the rapid development of Information Systems Science with agricultural technology, and rural entrepreneurship. This may provide better agricultural services, enhanced technology dissemination, and information delivery.

The study on which this track proposal is based sought to investigate roles of different stakeholders influencing the use of mobile phones in communicating agricultural information in Tanzania. The study arose from the fact that, while information is becoming an important ingredient in agriculture, farmers in Tanzania lack access to agricultural information something which constrains efforts to improve agricultural development. On the contrary, literature indicates that mobile phone technology has become the most valuable infrastructure which gives people access to the services they need to create a more promising future. Luckily, subscription of mobile phones in Tanzania is ubiquitous and its penetration in rural areas is ever growing. But, many of the Tanzanian farmers are not fully utilizing the potential that the technology prevails in agriculture. There is an apparent disparity between mobile phone subscriptions which is increasingly being adopted on one hand and their uptake into farming practices. Consequently, farmers suffer from insufficient access to agricultural information.

Land administration: LIS4D covers all systems that collect, manage, store and disseminate data on land rights in the global South in the context of delivering more sustainable and equitable forms of development. Actors are governments, communities, NGOs, CBOs, donors, entrepreneurs and academia that work within the land sector at local, national, and international levels.

Land Information Systems (LIS) are argued as an essential pillar for enabling sustainable economic and social development. Meanwhile, ICT4D research seeks to understand how technology advances can improve development outcomes. Conventional LIS theory and practice could profit greatly from the emergent ICT4D-discourse. Government-led top-down LIS have proved to be successful in more developed OECD contexts, however they are largely failing in terms of implementation and scaling in the global South. Nationwide implementations are often too time-consuming, too costly, too complex, inflexible, and exclusionary when set against diverse local contexts, customs and cultures. Complementing the drive for new approaches, emerging technologies are increasingly available for application within LIS4D. These include the deployment of big data collection approaches including crowdsourced mobile device data, GNSS technologies, and high resolution satellite imagery; the tailored use of UAVs, co-creation apps and digital sketch mapping tools at more local scales (e.g. Social Tenure Domain Model); and the utilization of cloud and Blockchain technologies for data and transaction storage at larger scales. These tools enable quicker and cheaper collection of data on land rights, and do not necessarily require professional training. Only now are the technologies being piloted and deployed at larger scale, for example, through fit-for-purpose land administration initiatives). The LIS research domain is committed to continuous development and independent evaluation, which can be pursued from a multiplicity of perspectives (normative, descriptive-analytical, etc.).

Public financial management: GRP is automation of public financial management (PFM). A core component of GRP in developing countries is integrated financial management information system (IFMIS). In early 1990s, developing countries through support of major international donors embarked to implementation of IFMIS. Among the main objectives of IFMIS are transparency and accountability in governments through production of timely reports; limit over-expenditure through budget controls; reducing opportunities for discretion in the use of public funds through financial controls; facilitate audits through audit trail reports, increase efficiency in financial management through automation of business processes; support decision making through production of reports. Twenty years of implementation provide a good time for academic researchers to evaluate achieved objectives, identify existing challenges, and provide recommendations to the key stakeholders (governments, vendors, and donors) for improvement.

Developers define Government Resource Planning (GRP) as software designed for unique requirements of public financial management. A successful GRP has many benefits to the governments such as increase level of efficiency, transparency, accountability, limit over-expenditure, improve services for citizens, and   participation. In other words, well designed, implemented and maintained financial management plays a key role in economic growth of any country. Governments of developing countries and donors use massive amount of money in designing, implementation, and maintenance of GRP. Based on this background, it will be worthy conducting academic research that will reveal the success attained so far, existing challenges, and recommendations for improvement of GRP.

Exemplar topics and types of contributions looked-for

Topics of interest to the track include, but are not limited to:

  • Agriculture:
    • Farmers’ socio-economic characteristics affecting their use of mobile phones in communicate agricultural information.
    • Understanding the role of interactions amongst stakeholders on effective use of mobile phones in communicating agricultural information.
    • Understanding the role of different stakeholders influencing the use of mobile phones to communicate agricultural information.
  • Land administration:
    • To what extent is the LIS-domain special compared to broader ICT4D-activities?
    • Are there lessons from successful LIS4D activities that should be transferred to ICT4D community?
    • How can the nature and uptake of recent LIS4D-projects be explained, compared to domains like health, agriculture, water management, and education?
    • To what extent and how can LIS4D become disruptive?
    • Who are the actors and which roles do they have in the recent LIS4D-projects? What kind of dynamics in South-South and North-South relationships are played out and how can South-South relationships be strengthened?
    • Conventional LIS4D are still operational, how do they relate to the recent LIS4D projects?
    • How can ICT4D strengthen South-South collaboration within LIS4D networks for research and education (such as East-African Land Administration Network and the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa)
  • Public financial management:
    • Integration of IFMIS with mobile payments for accounts payables.
    • Evaluation IFMIS: Objectives versus achievements
    • Cost benefit assessment for IFMIS platform migration (from older versions to new versions of software, and from one software platform to another)
    • Opportunities of open-source IFMIS modules in developing countries.
    • E-government for good governance in developing countries.
    • Cloud computing in governments of developing countries: Single private cloud for whole government versus each government organization owning its own data center.
    • Electronic data security in public sector
    • Big data management in public sector of developing countries.
    • ICT human resource development in governments of developing countries.