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Global Development Institute

Impact Assessment of ICT-for-Development Projects: A Compendium of Approaches

Richard Heeks & Alemayehu Molla


Billions of US dollars are invested each year by the public, NGO and private sectors in information-and-communication-technologies-for-development (ICT4D) projects such as telecentres, village phone schemes, e-health and e-education projects, e-government kiosks, etc.

Yet we have very little sense of the effect of that investment.  Put simply, there is far too little impact assessment of ICT4D projects.

In part that reflects a lack of political will and motivation.  But in part it also reflects a lack of knowledge about how to undertake impact assessment of ICT4D.

This Compendium aims to address that lack of knowledge.  It presents a set of frameworks that can be used by ICT4D practitioners, policy-makers and consultants to understand the impact of informatics initiatives in developing countries.

The Compendium is arranged into three parts:

  • Overview – explains the basis for understanding impact assessment of ICT4D projects, and the different assessment frameworks that can be used.
  • Frameworks – summarises a series of impact assessment frameworks, each one drawing from a different perspective.
  • Bibliography – a tabular summary of real-world examples of ICT4D impact assessment.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What are the key questions and models and impact outcomes that guide ICT4D impact assessment?  [Overview Part 1].
  2. How can we classify different approaches to ICT4D impact assessment?  [Overview Part 2].
  3. Select and summarise one of the impact assessment frameworks  [Frameworks section].

Development questions

  1. Select an item of ICT4D literature (not summarised in the Compendium).  Can you analyse which elements of the ICT4D value chain apply to this literature item?
  2. If you were going to choose a framework to assess the impact of ICT4D, what selection criteria would you adopt?
  3. Identify at least one missing framework, not presented in the Compendium, which could be used for ICT4D impact assessment.
  4. Identify an ICT4D impact assessment (not summarised in the Compendium).  Summarise it using the "Examples of Use" single-page format.
  5. The frameworks are presented for ICT4D project impact assessment.  Which, if any, might be used for ICT4D policy impact assessment?
  6. Does anyone ever really take notice of ICT4D impact assessment findings?  What are the implications of your answer?