Community Information Centres in Ghana

Technology and community

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have attracted enormous attention globally as critical tools for socio-economic development. However, the role of ICTs as enabler for development and addressing the needs of the poor, especially in the global south, has become the issue of a heated debate. This contestation has surfaced as a result of  high failure rate of ICTs for development projects and a widening gap between the expectations of what ICTs can possibly do and the experiential reality of how these technologies are actually being utilised. More often than not ICTs have been regarded to some extent as a panacea that would solve all development problems, with ill-conceived expectations of how they would be used.

The aim of the study is to explore the extent of how, and for what purposes, ICTs are used by people in three contrasting regions of Ghana (Central Brong Ahafo and Upper West regions) to determine the needs, seeking behaviour as well as impacts that CICs/ICTs have on various aspects of their livelihoods. To achieve this purpose, empirical data on access to and use of ICTs by people living in the regions where community information centres (CICs) are located were collected, the rationale was to fill the gap (good intentions, poor outcomes) and develop a comprehensive framework for best practice, between the prospects of what ICTs can do for poor people and the reality of how these technologies have actually been used in these areas to date. To answer the research questions posed in the study, and to achieve the objectives stated in the research, case study research design, using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, has been employed. This is because in-depth research, taking the form of a case study, can play a significant role in planning and carrying out a development project, particularly to design interventions that are tailored to suit the local contexts (MacGregor 2006:201).