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Context and the processes of ICT for Development Niall Hayes (Lancaster) Chris Westrup 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Context and the processes of ICT for Development Niall Hayes (Lancaster) Chris Westrup 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Context and the processes of ICT for Development Niall Hayes (Lancaster) Chris Westrup 1

2 Introduction About context and contextualism Thinking about context Proximal and distal accounts Three principles for ICT4D research What does it tell us about M-PESA? Concluding remarks 2

3 M-PESA lpvWDEU 3

4 About context and contextualism Different views in the ICT4D literature ◦ Issue of design – actuality ◦ Issue of contextualism ‘putting studies in context’ ◦ Framing of context in ICT4D development  By different discourses (see Avgerou 2010)  Gradual vs disruptive transformation  Transfer of innovation vs social embedded innovation 4

5 Challenges Avgerou (2010: 11) sets out two key challenges for the research domain; both of which are relevant to issues of context. The first is a call for theory which ‘… is needed to identify what is relevant context for each case of ICT innovation, and how it matters.’ A second theoretical challenge takes up the issue of social and economic contexts of development, as Avgerou puts it,‘ … strengthening of the field's [ICT4D] capacity to associate ICT innovation with socioeconomic development.’ In tandem, Avgerou suggests that these two problems span a difficulty of how to combine micro and macro domains of analysis. 5

6 Thinking about context ‘… [s]harpen[ing] our own sense of the way we fabricate contexts in the processes of our own analyses might help us to become aware, in turn, of the interpretative practices and contextualising moves used by others situated elsewhere and outside the academy.’ Dilley (2002: 454). 6

7 A proximal understanding focuses on processes that (re)produce ordering (and disordering) which create representations of context. In terms of organisation, Cooper and Law use it to describe the processes by which organising is practiced; what takes place and how that happens. It is analogous to identifying a ‘social life of context’ (Dilley, 2002) and how partial connections are generated. Having similarities to forms of ethnography, proximal representations seek to give insights into how organising is established whose consequences are such organisations. Both understandings are necessary and complementary to each other. Context is a provisional consequence of a process of ordering between what is focused on as content and what is demarcated as context 7

8 Context as ‘problem’ ‘enigma’ having ‘contradictions’ (Dilley 2002; Huen 2009; Lawson 2008) Context not ‘out there’ - need to care with representations of context that also construct categories – context as ‘social capital’; ‘underdeveloped’; etc. Instead focus on how connections (and disconnections) are constructed and maintained in the processes of ICT4D. We should expect multiple contextualisations at work – each of which is a partial account – and which are not necessarily compatible Context as outcome of networks (Latour 1999) or of partial connections (Strathern 1992). 8

9 Proximal and Distal accounts A distal representation sets up entities such as organisations as discrete with clear cut boundaries and tends to focus on stability. In a distal representation of an organisation, description might centre on the structure of the organisation, the products, the customer base, market share and so on. In other words, a distal representation shows the results of organising without considering how organising takes place. In development a distal account takes the categories of development (or, for that matter, of ‘macro’ actors) and describes context in these terms. This is analogous to describing context as an unproblematic entity in which development is embedded. 9

10 Three Principles 1. Context is not a discrete entity to be described or to be embedded in. If it is described as such, it is an outcome of a process of contextualising. Representations of context are created through processes of development and from stocks of knowledge that are describing and framing contexts. The representation of contexts is therefore a relational process in which both ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ actors engage in and become outcomes of. To gain understanding, multiple accounts are important which draw on proximal and distal accounts. 2Research needs to describe the concepts used by actors to represent context but to recognize them as outcomes of processes of development rather than self-evident entities. These are, drawing on Cooper and Law, distal accounts. 3. Research needs to attend to how distal accounts are produced. This requires investigation into the processes of development, be they by ‘macro’ or ‘micro’ actors. This is to be understood as an emergent activity and draws on multiple accounts wherever possible and on ethnographic detail on how proximal accounts develop and change in ICT4D. 10

11 M-PESA 25 million mobiles in Kenya in M-PESA has 14 million customers and 28,000 agents in ‘the most successful mobile phone-based financial service in the developing world’ (Jack and Suri 2009) 11

12 2003 to 2006 In 2003 as a joint project between DFID and Vodaphone ‘to improve transactions between individuals and with MFI [microfinance institutions] customers and MFIs’. Project completed in A report noticed that ‘‘one customer repeatedly loaded cash into his M-PESA account in Thika and then a few hours later took it out in Nairobi. On being asked why he did this, he said that his preference was to use M-PESA to let him travel to Nairobi without any cash in his pocket.” 12

13 2007 onwards M-PESA launched by Safaricom in March 2007 as a money transfer system and a ‘virtual bank’. By 2009 M-PESA was profitable and had more customers than the existing banks. Complaints about lack of regulation by Kenyan banks. But Central Bank of Kenya allowed it to continue. Partnered with Equity Bank in 2009 to provide banking services. 13

14 Concluding Comments Principle 1 – the importance of multiple accounts ◦ DFID, Vodaphone, Safaricom, Central Bank of Kenya, Equity Bank, users, other Kenyan banks. Principle 2 – M-PESA discussed through distal accounts. Where proximal accounts are found (Morawczynski, 2008; Morawczynski & Miscione, 2010) they focus on users. Principle 3 – Little evidence of how distal accounts were produced. 14


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