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16 New Priorities for ICT4D Policy and Practice in a Post-2015 World

By Richard Heeks on June 25, 2014

In 2016, the Millennium Development Goals will be replaced by the post-2015 development agenda (PTDA). The foundational content is in place for this new agenda, which will be the single most-important force shaping the future of international development and, hence, the single most-important force shaping the future of information-and-communication-technology-for-development (ICT4D). In planning prospective ICT4D priorities, we should therefore pay close attention to the PTDA.


ICT4D 2016: New Priorities for ICT4D Policy, Practice and WSIS in a Post-2015 World by Richard Heeks, undertakes a comparative analysis of the post-2015 development agenda versus the current content and future direction of ICT4D policy and practice, as exemplified by WSIS+10 documentation.

These latter documents bring together nearly 1,000 pages of text that review the current state of ICT4D ten years after the foundational World Summits on the Information Society; and that seek to set out a vision of WSIS and of ICT4D beyond 2015.

From this analysis, the paper identifies a set of post-2015 priorities in international development which have to date been under-emphasised within ICT4D. In all, 16 ICT4D gaps are identified for a world from 2016.

  1. Environment
  2. Sustainability
  3. Poverty
  4. Development Finance
  5. Basic Needs
  6. Economic Development: Growth, Jobs and the Digital Economy
  7. Development 2.0
  8. Accountability and Transparency
  9. Data Revolution
  10. Cross-Border Flows
  11. Peace and Security
  12. Urban Development
  13. Resilience
  14. Inclusive Development
  15. The Dark Side of ICTs
  16. Changing the Language and Worldview of ICT4D

These gaps, plus other key topics, are used to create a map of post-2015 ICT4D priorities; a map which will be of significant value to policy-makers, strategists and practitioners planning their future ICT4D activities.

Alongside these specific topics, the paper diagnoses a set of cross-cutting issues. It recognises the need for practice to break out of the “ICT4D bubble” and engage more with the development mainstream through a reorientation of ICT4D’s scope, language and worldview. And it discusses ICT4D’s future structure, process and vision.

It identifies the need to retain specialist centres of ICT4D expertise alongside mainstreaming, and the value of multi-stakeholder participation. It highlights the current absence of a compelling narrative and vision for the future of ICT4D: ICT’s transformative potential – and the possibilities of “Development 2.0” – might form one such vision.

The implications of all these issues are outlined for ICT4D generally and for WSIS specifically beyond 2015.

Filed Under: Thought Leadership
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Written by
Richard Heeks is Professor of Digital Development in the Global Development Institute, part of the School of Environment, Education and Development at the University of Manchester. He is Director of the Centre for Digital Development.
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2 Comments to “16 New Priorities for ICT4D Policy and Practice in a Post-2015 World”

  1. Ed Gragert says:


    Haven’t read the paper yet and perhaps education is one of the “cross-cutting” development issues, but it’s surprising that education is not one of the 16 ICT4D gaps.


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