ICT policy and poverty reduction in Africa

K. Diga, F. Nwaiwu, P. Plantinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand how policymakers in different African countries negotiate the complex relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and poverty reduction. The authors adopt a novel perspective on this problem by considering how the broader policy discourse and associated mechanisms tend to address (or neglect) the multiple dimensions of poverty. Design/methodology/approach: A textual analysis was conducted on selected ICT and poverty reduction policy documents from Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria, between 2005 and 2012. Findings: The findings show that the focus of ICT policy interventions continues to be on increasing economic capabilities amongst the poor. There is recognition in all three cases that human, political and social capital are also important. The continued dominance of an economic focus within ICT policies is supported by a techno-deterministic policy discourse, which tends to downplay social factors. Meanwhile, poverty reduction strategies adopt a similarly techno-deterministic perspective on the role of ICTs in development. Practical implications: While there is negligible evidence of methods that could enable a more contested, discursive policy environment, there are signs in South Africa and Uganda of a strong but relatively high-level (and largely rhetorical) interest in participatory approaches to ICT implementation which may, if appropriated fully by policymakers and their agents, lead to a more contextually anchored approach to ICT-supported poverty reduction around a diverse mix of poverty dimensions. Originality/value: This paper has developed a novel framework for analysing the extent to which the multiple dimensions of poverty are being addressed within African ICT policy and whether the appropriate institutional arrangements and policy processes are being adopted to do this. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-127
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2013


  • Communication technologies
  • Development goals
  • Information technology
  • Nigeria
  • Poverty reduction
  • South Africa
  • Telecommunication services
  • Uganda
  • Universal service


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