About me


Tim 2021 smallTim Unwin (born 1955) is Emeritus Professor of Geography and Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London.  He served as Secretary General (formerly Chief Executive Officer) of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) from 2011-2015, from 2004-2014 he was a  Commonwealth Scholarship Commissioner, serving as Chair of the Commission between 2009 and 2014, and  from 2001-2004 he led the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo: Partnership for IT in Education initiative based within the Department for International Development.  From 2007-2011 he was Director and then Senior Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Partnerships for Education initiative with UNESCO He was appointed a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list in 2016 for his services to the Commonwealth.

He was previously Head of the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London (1999–2001), and has also served as Honorary Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) (1995-1997) and as Chair of the IBG’s Developing Areas Research Group (1990-1993).  He has written or edited 17 books, and more than 200 papers and other publications, including “Wine and the Vine” (Routledge, 1991), “The Place of Geography” (Longman, 1992), as well as his edited “Atlas of World Development” (Wiley, 1994) and “A European Geography” (Longman, 1998). Much of his research draws on his reading of the work of Critical Theorists in the Frankfurt School, and especially the writings of Jürgen Habermas (especially Theorie und Praxis and Erkenntnis und Interesse).  His research and practice have taken him to more than 40 countries across the world, from Estonia to Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia to Sri Lanka, and he has worked on subjects as diverse as the role of banknotes as expressions of national identity, and the historical-geography of viticulture and the wine trade.  He first programmed in Fortran in the mid-1970s, and over the last 20 years his research has concentrated mainly on information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), focusing especially on the use of ICTs to support some of the poorest and most marginalised people and communities.  He has written two major books on ICT4D: the first was a collaborative book, entitled simply ICT4D, and was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009; and his second, entitled Reclaiming ICT4D was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.  He started using WordPress for blogging on 18th December 2008.

Some of his most important publications (other than his books) include:

  • Unwin, T. (2021) “Cyber security” and “development”: Contested futures, Chapter 47 in: Cornish, P. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Cyber Security, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 769-784.
  • Unwin, T. (2017) ICTs, sustainability and development: critical elements, in Sharafat, A. and Lehr, W. (eds) ICT-Centric Economic Growth, Innovation and Job Creation, Geneva: ITU, 37-71
  • Unwin, T. (2007) No end to poverty, Journal of Development Studies, 45(3), 929-953.
  • Unwin, T. (2004) Beyond budgetary support: pro-poor development agendas for Africa, Third World Quarterly, 25(8), 1501-1523
  • Unwin, T. and Hewitt, V. (2001) Banknotes and national identity in central and eastern Europe, Political Geography, 20, 1005-1028.
  • Unwin, T. (2000) A waste of space?, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, new series 25(1), 11-29
  • Unwin, T. (1998) Locke’s interest in wine, The Locke Newsletter 29, 119-151
  • Unwin, T. (1987) Household characteristics and agrarian innovation adoption in north-west Portugal, Transactions, Institute of British Geographers new series 12(2), 131-46
  • Unwin, T. (1985) Late seventeenth century taxation and population: the Nottinghamshire Hearth Taxes and Compton Census, Norwich: GeoBooks, 47pp (Historical Geography Research Series, no.16)
  • Unwin, T. (1981) Rural marketing in medieval Nottinghamshire, Journal of Historical Geography, 7(3), 231-51

Links to his main current activities (2022) are as follows:

Further information about Tim is available as follows:

For further links on ICT4D, visit the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London at http://www.ict4d.org/

25 responses to “About me

  1. hello, i´m student of geography at Universidad Nacional de La Plata, in Argentina, this is my first year here and the teacher gave us for read your book “The geography place”. (1995), it´s a very good book, very interesting and dinamic, I really enjoy this, congrats for your job!

  2. brookekania

    Hi Tim Unwin! I was just wondering, what are you looking for in students who are coming out of IDEV or ICT4D programs – what do you think the field needs from academic training? What advice would you give to aspiring ICT4D professionals?

  3. Pingback: ICT4D Professional Profile: Tim Unwin « ICT4D @ Tulane

  4. Hi
    we are planning a conference on Private sector engagement in Education in an effort to improve skills in Rwanda. Please get in touch with us

  5. asif

    Can i become ICT4D professional at the age of 57? If yes, how to proceed?

  6. unwin

    Hi Asif. It is never too late! Difficult to advise without knowing something more about your background. Perhaps you could send me an e-mail and tell me more about yourself, and what you want to do! Best wishes, Tim

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  9. Sarang

    Hello Sir, I am Sarang Shaikh- Telecommunication Professional from Karachi, Pakistan. I am really much interested in working/volunteering for Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization, is there any available opportunity for me. Hope to hear you soon. Thanks

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  11. Ellen Alpsten

    Hi Tim, I hope you are well. We met last week on a train when I told you about my Georgian novel in the making. It would be nice to get your input on the wonders of Georgia! Warm regards Ellen

    • Tim Unwin

      Just replied by e-mail – hope you get it

      • khalipha

        Good Day,

        I am a 1st year PhD student from Brunel University London, researching on ICT4D & the use of ICT in higher education in developing countries.

        I came across the MONITORING AND EVALUATION OF ICT IN EDUCATION PROJECTS: A Handbook for Developing Countries, which you were among the authors. i Have been going through the conceptual framework in the publication, and i find it really interesting, as i am considering using it as a framework in my research.

        Please i would like your assistance on more information about the framework, like its critiques, where it has been used for research and if there is any updated version of it, anything useful about it.

        thank you very much, as i look forward to hearing from you.

      • Tim Unwin

        Thanks for getting in touch – it is always good to hear from people working in this field. I have to say that monitoring and evaluation has developed quite extensively since we wrote that framework, but there is still not enough good work in this area. I actually have not read of any critiques of our handbook – but also, I am not sure where it has been used. I think we were laying out some rather general principles, many of which have indeed been used. I am sure that a search on a bibliographical database would show up some answers on this.

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    Hello Tim,

    I am trying to reach out folks like you who have significant contacts in telecom industry and who can assist me in monetization of my telecom patent portfolio (either license or sell it); Of course, they will be paid a handsome commission for a successful outcome.

    I have own a portfolio of very sophisticated telecom/tech U.S. patents with very solid claims. My patent describes lot more innovation than currently claimed & additional patents are in “Continuation” status. Thus, potential buyer can continue to protect this intellectual property & reap billions of dollars in benefit.

    One of the features of the patent is that it allows cell phone users choose & link multiple user names to their phone number thus avoiding the need to carry multiple cell phones. Another feature allows user to navigate phone extensions thru screen (like MS Windows folders) instead of annoying voice menus (i.e. dial 1 for sales, 2 for accounting etc).

    Please let me know, if you or someone you know would be interested in this initiative. You can call my phone number in U.S. is +1.732.309.5108 or reach me via email at MAQSOODTHANGE@HOTMAIL.COM.

    Kind Regards,
    Maqsood Thange
    US Patent 8,913,734
    US Patent 8,918,086
    US Patent 9,197,748
    US Patent 9,800,725
    Additional Patents Pending

    • Tim Unwin

      Thanks for getting in touch – afraid that monetization is not really my scene. I bguess you have already tried speaking with the mobile operators and handset companies – that’s where I would begin, but it will be a long, slow process!


      Hi Tim,

      Thank you for your reply. I will definitely try that option. I thought one right contact inside the industry is better than months of slow & bureaucratic process which often do not go anywhere.

      Once again, thank you for the reply.

      Best regards,

  14. Robin van Koert

    Dear Tim,

    Many thanks for your talk at Columbia University this afternoon (Friday 20 September). I would have liked to talk a little bit more about using ICT to facilitate information exchanges in existing rural networks (a little bit my hobby horse), but had to leave to meet up with my daughter.

    Your talk was interesting, but at the same time depressing as it does not seem like much has changed in the years since I completed my PhD. At the time, I had some peripheral involvement with the Multipurpose Community Telecenter movement, mainly to voice my dislike of the initiative. Johan Ernberg at the ITU was my contact.

    I had left the field behind for quite a while, but have been pondering whether to pick up the ball I (deliberately) dropped all those years ago. Today gave me some good food for thought.

    Kind regards,

    Robin van Koert

    • Tim Unwin

      Thanks for getting in touch Robin – let’s follow up via e-mail tim(dot)unwin(at)rhul.ac.uk – we should talk about the telecentre movement – I actuallt hnk thatb in certain circumstances multipurpose community centrres still have a role to play!

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  16. Naftali

    Thankew,just to know more,need some input from you to help NGOs in sub sahara Africa to translate from aid to trade.
    NAftali mutahi

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