How to make multi-stakeholder partnerships for ICT4D work

I have just finished revising a chapter on multi-stakeholder partnerships for ICT4D that will be appearing next year, and this gave me an interesting opportunity to revisit some of my previous thinking on the subject.

The chapter concludes with eight things that I have come to think are essential for any such partnership to work effectively, and although these are all crucial I guess that they are more or less in descending order of importance:

  1. A political and infrastructural environment that is conducive to the implementation of partnerships.  Without this, there is little point in starting.
  2. Engagement of all relevant stakeholders as early as possible in the initiative.
  3. The involvement of a high level champion, as well as leaders of all of the entities involved.
  4. The identification of clear and mutually agreed objectives for the partnership at the very start.
  5. Consistent monitoring and evaluation of the partnership and its intended outcomes. Again, this must be done from the beginning by ensuring a baseline study exists to enable impact and outcomes to be measured effectively.
  6. A clear and realistic resourcing framework, whereby each partner is explicit about the resources that they are willing to make available to the partnership, as well as their expectations of the benefits of being involved in the partnership.  Mechanisms must also exist for the inclusion of additional partners at stages during the process where new needs are identified.
  7. An ethical framework that emphasises a focus on transparency, and helps build trust within the partnership.
  8. A management office and/or partnership broker that will ensure the day-to-day and effective management and delivery of the partnership.

It would be really interesting to know what others think, and whether there  are more important factors that need to be included and I might have missed!

I have summarised the text in the image below (using Wordle):

Partnerships 2013


Filed under ICT4D

4 responses to “How to make multi-stakeholder partnerships for ICT4D work

  1. Brian Garbutt


    How are you?

    Very interested in your article on ‘multi-stakeholder partnerships’, this is very relevant when Bob H. & I meet up with Telstra, I have forwarded this article to Bob; the company I previously worked for had some successes on partnering with local authorities here in Australia, I must look up some of the details.



    Brian Garbutt.

  2. Dear Tim,
    I like your 8 point summary very much. Two years ago, I participated in the evaluation of a EU supported program for COMESA, the Regional Information and Communication Technologies Support Programme (RICTSP), which went on in Zambia between 2004 and 2009. Our evaluation is published here:

    In this project, every one of your 8 points were ignored, and 2 million Euro of yours and mine tax money went down the drain. There was virtually no useful result to show after 5 years. Now this was not a single accident, nor was it caused by bad luck. The EU commission had no clue about ICT4D when the project started, but in the euphoria at the time the idea that they should “do something” was apparently irresistible. Of course this project was conceived several years after the ICT bubble burst, but I don’t think anyone made the connection.

    On the whole, I think the idea of big ICT4D projects is getting outdated. The GSM networks in Africa are rapidly being converted to data networks, and smart phones are now down to 40-50 USD in India. Connectivity is being solved, as well as the computer issue. Many African countries have already installed or are planning national fibre backbones to reach far out in the countryside. The World Bank through its RCIP programme is supporting this development, and several PPP solutions are on the way. “Fibre to the Tower” will be the next development, when mobile operators replace their microwave transmission with fibre from the public backbones. Bandwidth costs are dropping, and capacity is increasing, simply because the mobile operators need the revenues from millions of new smart phone users. So the infrastructure investments are driven by demand, and the private sector is responding to it. For the last 15 years, the market forces have been doing an admirable job in the telecom sector in Africa.

    In my own experience from large ICT projects, going back almost 50 years, the main problem has always been the integration of ICT solutions in ongoing operations, whether private or public. Whenever an attempt is made to glue a “computer system” on to an old structure there are problems. In Africa, many public administrations operate after 50 years of independence with unreformed colonial administration structures. Adding modern ERM systems to these structures have always created more problems than it has solved. No integration is possible because the role of information is uncertain in decision making or in dealing with legal and administrative cases. This is a basic, almost philosophical, problem that keeps repeating itself – not only in Africa, but it sometimes happens in the most sophisticated “modern” organizations and businesses as well. To study the flow of information is never enough, there is always a human and client/patron interface to consider. Plus the ever present issue of quality of data and of information, both as input and as what is kept stored in existing files and data bases.

    Tim, while I welcome your check list, I think there are two things to consider: The rapid transformation of computing and networking, and the continuing lack of understanding that an organization and its information systems are never separate.

    Best regards

    Olof Hesselmark

  3. Kerry-Ann Barrett

    Dear Tim

    Good read and this applies for any initiative that requires partnership with Government especially. One of the things that would be missing form the eight points is in engaging the stakeholders early, it is not only the explicit identification of available resources but also ensuring that the roles are clearly defined. This has been a downfall for many implementation for ICT projects.


  4. Pingback: Multistakeholderism and consensus decision making in ICT4D | Tim Unwin's Blog

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