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What the Top 10 ICTworks Posts of 2021 Tell Us About Digital Development

By Wayan Vota on January 6, 2022

top 10 blog posts

Wow! 2021 was a great year for ICTworks.

We maintained 25,000 email subscribers all year by culling old emails as we welcomed new readers, resulting in an average of 6,500 different people reading every post – an impressive 26% email open rate. Once online, our 156 blog posts went on to generate over 550,000 unique views during the year, or an average of 3,500 website visitors for each 2021 ICTworks post. Add those two numbers together, and…

Every ICTworks post in 2021 was seen by an average of 10,000 people.

Now averages don’t tell the real story of which posts were the most popular for our digital development readership. Which topics resonated with program designers, project managers, software developers, academics, and humanitarian professionals across the Global South? Here are the key themes we saw when analyzing our readership metrics:

Top 10 ICTworks Posts in 2021

11. How Will Nigerians Spend $451 Million Bitcoin Cryptocurrency in 2021?

Yes, number 11 is a bonus. This post was published in late December 2020, so it may be slightly out of our timeframe, but the topic is certainly in scope. Bitcoin, and the underlying blockchain technology, continued to garner interest throughout 2021. For example, the post 10 Blockchain Implementation Risks in International Development from 2019 maintained its popularity throughout 2021.

10. Is “Digital Self-Care” the Best Term for Direct-to-Client Digital Health Services?

Digital health is a major interest area for digital development practitioners. The emergence of a new catchphrase generated 14 comments from eHealth professionals in Canada, India, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, in addition to the USA. The consensus felt that “digital self-care” was imperfect, and so are all the other options to describe how a community can manage its health care.

9. How to Safely Collect Data Remotely During COVID-19 Digital Response

Obviously, we are still in the midst of COVID-19 digital response, and remote data collection is foremost in the minds of many development practitioners since travel and in-person interactions are still limited. 2020 showed and 2021 proved that remote data collection is practical, realistic, and effective. In fact, the popularity of the USAID guide on How to Evaluate Distance Learning in COVID-19 Response shows that remote everything came on strong in 2021.

8. Please Use Accurate Poverty Maps in Humanitarian Relief Programs

Speaking of remote data collection, the use of geographic information systems continued to be very interesting to ICT4D experts. We learned that Smallholder Farmers Can Use Soil Map Data for Higher Productivity and Spatial Intelligence Solutions Can Improve Public Health Outcomes. Even a December 2019 post still held strong in 2021 by Exploring Food Insecurity via Geospatial Data Reveals Critical Local Differences.

7. The ICT4D Guilty Pleasure: Reinventing Digital Wheels for Donors

A critique on how we keep brining back failed technology interventions for new donor program elicited thousands of page views and 28 comments debating the root cause of this common development troupe. One comment revealed that international development has fairly perverse incentives to brand everything an innovation to gain funding. Implementers don’t feel that donors are excited by investing in existing approaches.

6. Don’t Build It. A Guide for ICT4D Practitioners to Just Say No

And then we have a great post on how to stop your organization from building those failed technology interventions in the first place. I think we can all agree that we should put this guidebook into practice more often in 2022. Too many times, the only real innovation we create in digital development are the words and phrases we use to describe approaches that are years’ old.

5. Why Rwanda Beat Tanzania in UAV Drone Regulation and Experimentation

Government regulations can help or hinder technology innovation and deployment around the world. ICT4D is often at the cutting edge of technology use in countries with low government capacity to understand and regulate those technology innovations. Hence it’s not that surprising that a post about government intervention in drone regulation was quite popular.

4. Ways to Get Women to Use Your AgriTech Application Innovation

The ever-present gender digital divide and its impact on every development sector continues to be an industry-wide challenge. Even when we look at technology as one fix to the problem, like with Six Ways Technology Solutions Can Help End Gender-Based Violence, there is a still a gap in ownership, access, usage, and safety across genders. We need to continue a focus on this issue in 2022.

3. New USAID Digital Ecosystem Framework for International Development

Guides from USAID are always popular, and in 2021, anything relating to the USAID Digital Strategy grabbed page views. As were guides that looked at new technology usage, such as the new USAID guide on How to Manage Artificial Intelligence Projects in International Development. It was not just donors though. The new WHO handbook on How to Build Digital Health Information Infostructure was also popular with ICTworks readers.

2. Register Now: $200 Million USAID Digital Strategy Proposal Opportunity

Posts for new funding opportunities were by far the most popular type of post on ICTworks. Our call for DSPIA partners proved to be the most popular funding post, followed closely by our analysis of $4 Billion in USAID Funding for African Country Programs. We sought to help organizations access new project financing during the Global Digital Development Forum session on How to Access USA Funding.

1. Breaking News: Bezos and Musk Launch New USAID Public Private Partnership

Our single most popular post of 2021 was biting satire on the ridiculous wealth of a few technology billionaires. For example, just the 2020 net worth increase of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk was five times the entire US government’s total annual foreign assistance budget. Musk alone gained more wealth in 2020 than Bill Gates’ entire net worth, and yet Musk has given less than 1% of his wealth to charity.

Share Your Idea with 10,000 Readers

ICTworks is the best way to get your idea into the minds of digital development practitioners around the world. You can submit an idea or a finished draft for a new post or articles published elsewhere. We especially welcome posts from:

  • Donors looking for new solutions from innovative technologists
  • Organizations that want to share case studies or impact stories
  • Consultants with strong views on how we can improve digital development
  • Researchers who wants their papers to be read and change minds

Please read our guest post guidelines and send us your ideas today. You could be the next author reaching thousands and winning next year’s Top 10 Blog Posts list.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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