About us

As researchers in the field of Information and Computing Technologies for the Developing world (ICT4D) we aim to enable cost effective technological solutions to the computing problems that emerge in the context of Africa and the developing world in general. Our philosophy is that ICT4D is the application of ICT to address problems of a developmental nature, as defined and stemming from development priorities of individual nations and international bodies.  While not excluding the so-called Western nations, ICT4D is more often contextualised in the developing countries, where development is a key priority of both governments and the non-governmental sectors.  Development traditionally includes aspects such as education, healthcare, infrastructure and communication, but also includes safety and security, human dignity and identity. Most ICT4D research is conducted on non-traditional interventions to address these aspects, or, alternatively, higher level analyses of how traditional ICT use supports development.

We hold that the computing needs that emerge in our society are not served simply by providing access to first world technological solutions. A key reason for this is that the algorithms and methodologies underlying these technologies do not take into account the social context of the users and/or the resource constraints of the developing world. Therefore, in addressing ICT4D problems, we note that a rather radical stance is needed to overcome the inclination to focus on the technological issues and ignore social involvement.

In order to avoid the technical bias typically associated with standard software engineering practices, we are interested, therefore, in building socially aware software systems that operate optimally in constrained resource settings.  Our socially aware software engineering approach is based on a combination of user-centred methods from the field of human computer interaction, participatory design methods, and action research cycles. We tackle problems that stem from a variety of standard computing research fields that include: E-Health, E-Learning, Information Retrieval, Human Computer Interaction, Logic and Ontologies, Mobile Computing, Networks, Information Security, Languages and Speech Recognition, and Virtual Reality. Our results indicate that in comparison to standard technological approaches, the socially aware design philosophy yields constructive and effective solutions to ICT4D problems.