ICTs and Sustainable Community Development in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria

Uduak Akpan Okon

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This research explores ways in which ICTs may contribute to building and sustaining active and healthy communities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. As such, it addresses key debates around notions of sustainable communities and the appropriateness of recent ICT initiatives designed to support processes of development. A central feature of the research is that the methodology was designed in a cyclical phased structure that combined ethnographic approaches and action research in a participatory framework. It focuses on the actual practices of use and interactions with ICTs in the wider context of people‘s lives and socio-cultural structures in nine diverse communities in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers State, and Bayelsa State. An ethnographic approach was used to guide the research process and make sense of a wide range of social relationships and processes. Action research was used to bring about new knowledge, both in terms of research and in the lives of the participants, through shared understandings of situations. Grounded theory informed both the method of data collection and analysis, and the technique for theory building.
The research shows that the people of the Niger Delta have very different conceptions of notions such as ‗sustainability‘ and ‗community‘ than are to be found in most Western academic literatures. Participants in the research recognised that familiar ICTs such as radio and TV can act as a bridge to more recent ICTs such as mobile phones and computers, and that these can play a crucial role in social organisation and advocacy.
Based on the outcomes of the participatory action research an integrated media framework for ICT was developed which could be implemented to support the social sustainability of communities adapted to local conditions in the Niger Delta. This focuses on community radio as a focal point for local development. The model also incorporates the importance of blending technologies, so that community radio, mobile phones and internet access can be used for communal benefits. This framework focuses on three elements: enhancing local capacity; strengthening forms of social organisation; and strengthening mechanisms for sharing of experience and knowledge. It represents a starting point for exploring further ways in which ICTs may be deployed to support the sustainable development of communities in the Niger Delta.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

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