Information and Communication Technology in the Developing World

Joyojeet Pal

Thursday 6:30-9:20 PM

The study of recent issues of technology and development within engineering, business and the social sciences. Topics include prominent past and future technological directions, a general introduction to subject theory and history, and engineering efforts and technology adoption experiences in the areas of healthcare, education, governance and infrastructure. For general interest students as well as professionals working with technology adoption or business interests in emerging markets.

TA: David Broderick

Meeting Location: MORE 230




Students are expected to participate in class and be regular with readings. In addition, all students are expected to pick from one of three: a design project, a business plan, and a research paper. In each case, the student must meet with the instructor early in the class to agree on expected deliverables by the end of the class.

  • Class Participation: 20%
  • Midterm Report: 20%
  • Final Presentation: 20%
  • Final Project: 40%


There is no textbook for the class. All the readings are available through the digital library, and will be provided through links for students. The early weeks of the class are more reading-intensive than later classes. Guest speakers for some of the classes will be announced in the first few weeks. Students are expected to participate in class and be regular with readings.

Class Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

Oct 1, 2009

Overview of Development Studies and ICTD


  • Brewer, E., M. Demmer, et al. (2005). “The Case for Technology in Developing Regions.” COMPUTER: 25-38.
  • Nedevschi, S. (2008). “ICTD State of the Union: Where are we now and how did we get here?” ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceedings
  • Banerjee, A. V. and E. Duflo (2006). “The Economic Lives of the Poor.” Poverty Action Lab: Working Papers.
  • Easterly, W. (2007). “Was Development Assistance a Mistake?” American Economic Review 97(2): 328-332.
  • Sainath, P. (2006). “What Exactly is” Development”?” Post-autistic Economics Review 38.

Supplemental Readings

  • Jasanoff, S. (2002). “New Modernities: Reimagining Science, Technology and Development.” Environmental Values 11: 253-76
  • Basu, K. (2001). “On the Goals of Development.” Frontiers of Development Economics: The Future in Perspective.
  • Hirschman, A. O. (1981). “The Rise and Decline of Development Economics.” Essays in Trespassing: Economics to Politics and Beyond: 1-24

Week 2: Business and Policy of ICTD

Oct 8, 2009


  • Prahalad, C. K. and A. Hammond (2002). “Serving the World’s Poor, Profitably.” Harvard Business Review 80(9): 48-59
  • Karnani, A. G. (2007). “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage.” Ross School of Business Paper No. 1035
  • Donner, J. (2008). “Research approaches to mobile use in the developing world: A review of the literature.” The Information Society 24(3): 140-159
  • Burrell, J. (2008) Problematic Empowerment: West African Internet Scams as Strategic Misrepresentation Information Technologies & International Development 4(4) pp 15-30
  • Vasudevan, R. (2007). “Changed Governance or Computerized Governance? Computerized Property Transfer Processes in Tamil Nadu, India.” Information Technologies and International Development 4(1): 101-112
  • Tongia, R. (2006) Why is Connectivity in Developing Regions Expensive: Policy Challenges more than Technical Limitations? WWW2006 IEEE Conference Proceedings, pp. 991-992

Supplemental Readings

  • Molony, T. (2007). “‘I Don’t Trust the Phone; It Always Lies’: Trust and Information and Communication Technologies in Tanzanian Micro-and Small Enterprises.” Information Technologies & International Development 3(4): 67-83
  • Salvador, T., J. W. Sherry, et al. (2005). “Less cyber, more cafe: Enhancing existing small businesses across the digital divide with ICTs.” Information Technologies & International Development 11(1): 77-95.
  • Humphrey, J., Mansell, R. Pare, D. & Schmitz H. (2003). The Reality of E-Commerce in Developing Countries, Institute of Development Studies, Susse
  • Kumar, R. (2004) eChoupals: A Study on the Financial Sustainability of Village Internet Centers in Rural Madhya Pradesh, Information Technologies & International Development, Volume 2, Number 1, Fall 2004, 45-73
  • Chowdhury, S. K. and S. Wolf (2006). “Investments in ICT-capital and economic performance of small and medium scale enterprises in East Africa.” Journal of International Development 18(4): 533
  • Pitroda, S. (1993). “Development, Democracy, and the Village Telephone.” HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW 71: 66-66.
  • Best, M., et al. (2007) Post-Conflict Communications: The Case of Liberia, CACM October 2007, pp 33-3
  • Samarajiva, R. (2007). “Preconditions for Effective Deployment of Wireless Technologies for Development in the Asia-Pacific.” Information Technologies & International Development 3(2): 57-71
  • Benjamin, S. A. and R. Bhuvaneswari (2001). Democracy, Inclusive Governance and Poverty in Bangalore. Urban Governance, Partnership and Poverty Working Paper 26, University of Birmingham

Week 3: End Devices and Infrastructure

Oct 15, 2009


  • Veeraraghavan, R., N. Yasodhar, and K. Toyama (2009) Warana Unwired: Replacing PCs with Mobile Phones in a Rural Sugarcane Cooperative, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceeding
  • Pal, J., R. Patra, et al. (2009). “The Case of the Occasionally Cheap Computer: Low-cost Devices and Classrooms in the Developing Regions.” Information Technologies & International Development 5(1): 49-64.
  • Pentland, A. S., R. Fletcher, et al. (2004). “DakNet: Rethinking Connectivity in Developing Nations.” COMPUTER: 78-83
  • Surana, S., R. Patra, et al. (2007). “Beyond Pilots: Keeping Rural Wireless Networks Alive.” USENIX 2007.


  • Paik, M., Subramanian, L. (2009) ATMosphere: A System for ATM Microdeposit Services in Rural Contexts, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceeding
  • Saif, U. Chaudhary, A., Butt, S., Butt, F., Murtaza, G. (2009) A Peer-to-Peer Internet for the Developing World Information Technologies & International Development 5(1): 31-47.

Week 4: Information Organization

Oct 22, 2009


  • Parikh, T., P. Javid, Sasikumar K., K. Ghosh (2006) Mobile Phones and Paper Documents: Evaluating A New Approach for Capturing Microfinance Data in Rural India, ACM-SIGCHI Conference Proceedings 200
  • Kumar, A., Chakraborty, D., Chauhan, H., Agarwal, S., Rajput, N. (2009) FOLKSOMAPS: Towards Community Driven Intelligent Maps for Developing Regions, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceedings
  • Patnaik, S., Brunskill, E., Thies, W. (2009) Evaluating the Accuracy of Data Collection on Mobile Phones: A Study of Forms, SMS, and Voice, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceeding
  • Singh, G., Findlater, L., Toyama, K., Helmer,S., Gandhi, R., Balakrishnan, R. (2009) Numeric Paper Forms for NGOs, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceedings, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceedings

Week 5: Livelihoods

Oct 29, 2009


  • Gandhi, R., R. Veeraraghavan, et al. (2007). “Digital Green: A Participatory Digital Framework to Deliver Targeted Agricultural Information to Small and Marginal Farmers.
  • Jensen, R. (2007). “The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector*.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122(3): 879-924.
  • Panchard, J., S. Rao, et al. (2007). “COMMONSense Net: A Wireless Sensor Network for Resource-Poor Agriculture in the Semiarid Areas of Developing Countries.” Information Technologies and International Development 4(1): 51-67

Week 6: Midterm Review

Nov 5, 2009

Class project and term review

Week 7: Education

Nov 12, 2009


  • Attewell, P. and J. Battle (1999). “Home Computers and School Performance.” The Information Society 15(1): 1-10
  • Pawar, U. et al. (2006). Multiple Mice for Computers in Education in Developing Countries.
  • Richardson, J. (2008) ICT in Education Reform in Cambodia: Problems, Politics, and Policies Impacting Implementation Information Technologies and International Development 4(4) pp 67-8
  • Kam, M. et al. (2009) Improving Literacy in Rural India: Cellphone Games in an After-School Program Proceedings of IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD ’09), Doha, Qatar

Week 8: Healthcare

Nov 19, 2009


  • Bellows, B., A. Bhandari, et al. (2007). “Peering into the black box: a holistic framework for innovating at the intersection of ICT and health.” Information Communication Technologies and Human Development. Hershey, PA: Idea Group: 235–265
  • Martinez, A., V. Villarroel, J. Seonane, and F. del Pozo (2005) Analysis of Information and Communication Needs in Rural Primary Health Care in Developing Countries, IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine, Vol. 9, No. 1
  • DeRenzi, B., N. Lesh, et al. (2008). e-IMCI: Improving Pediatric Health Care in Low-Income Countries. Florence, Italy. (May move this to Information Organization

Week 9, Off, Thanksgiving

Week 10: Design

Dec 3, 2009


  • Agarwal, S., Kumar, A., Nanavati, A., Rajput, N. (2009) Content Creation and Dissemination by-and-for Users in Rural Areas, ICTD2009 IEEE Conference Proceeding
  • Medhi, I., A. Sagar, et al. (2007). “Text-Free User Interfaces for Illiterate and Semiliterate Users.” Information Technologies and International Development 4(1): 37-50.
  • Ramachandran, D., M. Kam, J. Chiu, J. Canny, and J. Frankel. (2007) Social Dynamics of Early Stage Co-Design in Developing Regions, ACM SIG-CHI IEEE Conference proceeding


  • Kammen, D. and M. Dove (1997) The Virtues of Mundane Science, Environment, Vol 39, No 6
  • Plauche, M., U. Nallasamy, J. Pal, C. Wooters, and D. Ramachandran (2006) Speech Recognition for Illiterate Access to Information and Technology, ICTD2006 IEEE Conference Proceedings

Week 11: A Broader ICTD

Dec 10, 2009

Class Presentations


  • Vasudev, J. and B. Parthasarathy (2007). “The Post Consumptive Residues of Information and Communication Technologies – Transnational E-waste Flows and Developmental Dilemmas.” Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development
  • Kleine, D. (2007): Striking a Balance: Technology is never neutral. Engineering and Technology 2 (2), 30-33
  • Heeks, R. (2008). “ICT4D 2.0: The Next Phase of Applying ICT for International Development.” COMPUTER: 26-33
  • Pal, J (2009) “My Child Will be Respected” Information Technologies and International Development 5(1): 1-12


  • Maier, S. (2004). “Women’s Empowerment and the Information Society.” Information Technologies and International Development 4(2): 1-12
  • Hafkin, N. & Taggart, N. (2001). Gender, information technology, and developing countries: An analytic study. United States Agency for International Development.