outcome such as health or education. There is also a growing community of researchers pursuing similar goals through development of hardware and software systems for use in developing regions (e.g. ICTD, 2009). Both approaches are similar in that an institution, enterprise or product is planted within a community, and after a pilot period, conclusions are drawn regarding the success or failure of the initiative. More recently, a third, mainly research-based approach is emerging that seeks to understand the role of ICTs in develop- ment by examining their use in everyday life, unbound from particular projects (e.g. Horst and Miller, 2006; McKemey et al., 2003; Slater and Kwami, 2005). The first two approaches fall within the arena of what has come to be known as ICT for development (ICT4D), while the third constitutes a slightly different perspective, sometimes referred to as ICT and development. Irrespective of the approach taken, there is a distinct dearth of detailed conversation between the ICT4D and development com- munities, with the result that the development-oriented efforts by ICT researchers and designers are rarely informed by development theory (see Heeks, 2007). Consequently, it is difficult to find convincing explanations why ‘for’ projects do not produce the expected results. Yet, some technologies have experienced significant uptake without the advantage of an organized project. Mobile telephony falls into this category, with Africa currently registering some of the highest adoption rates – 50% annual growth rate between 2001 and 2006 (ITU, 2008). Thus, with their small size, relative ease of deployment, low cost, and usability, mobile phones have become the latest champions of poverty reduction (e.g. Kelly et al., 2002; Vodafone, 2005) – several ICT4D projects are using mobile phones as their technology of choice. Alongside this, research has documented high lev- els of social and personal uses of mobile telephony by low-income earners (e.g. Bertolini, 2002; Molony, 2008; Parkinson, 2005; Slater and Kwami, 2005), while others highlight specific economic and welfare-related uses (e.g. Bayes et al., 1999; Eggleston et al., 2002; Jensen, 2007; Overå, 2008; Vodafone, 2005). Although the line between social and economic uses is often blurry in these contexts (e.g. Donner, 2006), the literature shows that there is high interest in instances of innovation (e.g. mobile currency or SMS-based recruitment systems) as well as puzzlement at some apparently mundane usage patterns. On some levels, the former is seen as appropriate and the latter as less appropriate, even
Sey 377 frivolous. As with mobile phone users who have higher incomes, low-income mobile phone users pursue multiple goals in their use of the technology, some ‘serious,’ others less so, but all important for human welfare. This article is an effort to understand the range and meaning of these behaviors.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 16 pages?
- One '09