Annual Conference 2023
Where: Hosted by Dublin City University
When: 25-26 October 2023
The introduction of information and communication technology (ICT) has changed our world, the way we live, work, do business, learn, bank, interact and socialize. In the past two decades, ICT has been embraced by many in the Global South (Ojo 2018); we have entrepreneurs in Kenya to thank for mobile banking (Burns 2018) and open-source mapping (Herfort et al 2021), while India is emerging as the world’s largest technology and services hub (EY 2023). Despite this, the positive benefits of ICT have varied from country to country; with nations in the Global South often benefitting less than nations in the Global North. Moreover, a significant ‘digital divide’ exists within all nations, with those who are younger, more educated, urban and male more likely to benefit from Internet access than those who are less educated, rural, older and female (Arora 2019).
Governments in particular have a role to play in addressing this divide and creating opportunities for all citizens; the World Bank’s 2016 ‘Digital Dividends’ report argued that the “information and communications transformation will not be realized unless countries continue to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance. In countries where these fundamentals are weak, digital technologies have not boosted productivity or reduced inequality” (2016, xiii).
International development practitioners have embraced ICT, often hoping to support and streamline processes within sectors that could benefit from better record keeping, record and information sharing, and the instant transfer of data for disease surveillance, and election monitoring. Indeed, it is claimed that technology has the ability to address many of the SDGs (Bailur and Masiero 2018). The ubiquity of mobile phones across the planet has enabled this move towards technology. The many mobile apps that are now pervasive (mHealth, e-learning, fintech, agri-info) have proven to work for certain sections of society, but the question remains as to whether they reach those further behind and do they promote greater, more equitable access to services and opportunities. The sector receives ever more funding from big tech-connected philanthropists, and it is tempting to roll out yet another small app-based pilot project that may never be interoperable with other projects or systems, or become scalable or sustainable.
After adopting a mainly positive, technocentric view of ‘ICT for global development’ (Kondowe and Chigona 2019), awareness regarding the negative impacts of ICT in the Global South is growing. Concerns include questionable ownership of data generated by a few private companies (Taylor and Broeders 2015), and national government introducing biometric and other tech-based solutions thereby excluding sections of their population. Additionally, Governments seem to be incapable of leveraging such technology for protecting their citizens from an increase in smuggling, people trafficking, child sexual abuse for online pornography websites. This is closely related to ICT being used by repressive governments to spy on their own citizens, to whip up anti-refugee, anti-minority or anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment to distract from bad governance, or the influencing of election outcomes using external actors who use sophisticated social media campaigns. Thus, the early techno-optimistic view of the ability of technology to address many of the problems in the Global South has turned to techno-pessimism for many. This is evidenced as we witness a reduction in democratically run nations, increased autocracy, an undermining of freedoms, closure of civil society space and dictatorial leaders creating alliances with other undemocratic regimes (Gruzd et al 2022) that can provide troll factories and spyware.
This brings us to an important question: does ICT have the potential to address the SDGs, or is technology prohibiting many aspects of Global Development and achieving the SDGs?
Call for Papers - Now Closed
The 2023 DSAI Annual Conference invites you to examine tech optimism and tech pessimism: how does the Irish international development sector of NGO practitioners, aid donors and academics balance their views regarding the potential for technology to contribute to an improvement in people’s education, health, welfare and reduced inequality, while being cognizant of the negative, unequal, occasionally criminal and anti-democratic influences of technology? How can ICT be designed, developed, implemented, and scaled in socially, culturally, politically, and ethically appropriate ways which address the SDGs? How can the implementation of systems designed to surveil and control populations be prevented? We invite papers and talks on these and other related areas.
Fee and Registration
|Individual - Conference + Annual Membership||€25.00|
|Student/Unemployed - Conference Only||€5.00|
|HEI - Conference x 2 + Annual Institutional Membership||€1,000|
|NGO (Large*) - Conference x 2 + Annual Institutional Membership||€1,000|
|NGO (Small*) - Conference x 2 + Annual Institutional Membership||€500|
* Large NGO = Organisations with annual income over €1m. Small NGO = Orgnaisations with annual income less than €1m
Delegates may wish to book with The Bonnington for the night of 25th Oct. A small number of rooms are available at discount for DSAI delegates. Please use the promo code DSAI23 when booking.
Rates for the 25th Oct are:
- Single room €165 Bed & Breakfast
- Double/Twin Room €195 Bed & Breakfast
Delegates can call Reservations on 01-8373544 (9.30am -6pm Mon-Sat) quoting the promo code or book online here.
Arora P. Bottom of the data pyramid: Big data and the global south. International Journal of Communication. 2016 Mar 14;10:19.
Bailur S, Masiero S. Women’s income generation through mobile Internet: A study of focus group data from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Gender, Technology and Development. 2017 May 4;21(1-2):77-98.
Burns S. M‐Pesa and the ‘market‐led’approach to financial inclusion. Economic Affairs. 2018 Oct;38(3):406-21.
Calisto Kondowe, Wallace Chigona. Rethinking Theory and Practice of ICT4D. An Analysis of the Discourse Embedded in the 2016 World Bank Report. 15th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries (ICT4D), May 2019, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. pp.135-148, ff10.1007/978-3-030-19115-3_12ff. ffhal-02281303
EY 2023, How India is emerging as the world’s technology and services hub. Available: https://www.ey.com/en_in/india-at-100/how-india-is-emerging-as-the-world-s-technology-and-services-hub
Gruzd S, Ramani S, Clifford C. Russia in Africa: Who is courting whom?. South African Journal of International Affairs. 2022 Oct 2:1-5.
Herfort B, Lautenbach S, Porto de Albuquerque J, Anderson J, Zipf A. The evolution of humanitarian mapping within the OpenStreetMap community. Scientific reports. 2021 Feb 4;11(1):1-5.
Ojo T. Political economy of ICT4D and Africa. In: Handbook of Communication for Development and Social Change 2020 Jun 9 (pp. 1243-1255). Singapore: Springer Singapore.
Taylor L, Broeders D. In the name of Development: Power, profit and the datafication of the global South. Geoforum. 2015 Aug 1;64:229-37.