Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gates Project 9: Access, Adoption, and Appropriation in South Africa

This is a diagram that I found in a couple of reports by Mark Surman that I really like:




example: owning a cell phone --------------example: using phone for intended uses -----------example: adapting the tool to personal needs, such
--------------------------------------------------------ssuch as making a call or sending an SMS
------------as using the SMS function to organize a rally
---------------------------------------------------------to a friend

This diagram shows a contiuum of ICT use that begins with having access to a tool (computer, phone) or service (internet, cell network), then continues on to adoption, which connotes regular use of a tool according to its intended purposes, and finishes with appropriation, the stage in which a tool is so thoroughly mastered that the individual /organization can effectively adapt the tool to their own purposes.

In my experience, there are no ready-made e-advocacy tools. By this I mean that every tool must be personalized to be effective. If you want supporters to sign an online petition supporting domestic abuse legislation in Zimbabwe, you cannot go to You have to go to and create your own petition with your own specifications. At this point - correct me if I'm wrong - all e-advocacy seems to occur in the appropriation phase of ICT use.

Today I spoke to David Barnard, Executive Director of SANGONet, a South African NGO support network with a focus on promoting ICT use. According to David, while South Africans are still struggling with the internet access problem, most South African NGO's are in the adoption phase. They have a computer with internet access and e-mail but they have not moved on to the appropriation phase of really taking control of internet tools and localizing them the needs of their own organizations. South Africa has the highest number of internet users of any in sub-Saharan Africa, and in the countries northern neighbors - Botswana, Namibia, Malawi - more NGO's are in an earlier phase, still struggling to gain access to the internet. In encouraging NGO's to adopt ICT's David's strategy is "baby steps": a tireless process of talking to individual NGO's in the region through events like SANGONet's yearly ICT's for Civil Society conferences, trainings, and Thetha, SANGONet's ICT discussion forum.

categories: internet activism_, gates project_, the "developing world"_

technorati tags:

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?