NGOS and Internet Use in Uganda

McConnell, Scott (1998) NGOS and Internet Use in Uganda. In: Proceedings Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology ’98. University of Sydney, Sydney, pp. 147-167.

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Abstract

Information technology (IT) research has ignored examining the impact of the Internet on unconnected stakeholder communities in the South. This research, which investigates how non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with connectivity are utilising the Internet for their daily operations, and how they are able to acquire and disseminate information from the Internet to their stakeholders, hopes to correct such injustices. The research was undertaken over an eight-week period in early 1998 in Uganda, East Africa. The survey involved representatives of 33 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responding to seven openended questions related to their organisations’ use of the Internet, and their information communication patterns. The paper begins with a brief background on Uganda and its telecommunications environment, including a summary of the seven Internet Service Providers (ISPs) currently operating in the country. The survey questions are identified, and the responses are organised into thematic categories which became apparent during the course of the study. The term “Internet” is used to refer to email-only services, as well as World Wide Web services. The research found that NGOs report benefiting from their use of the Internet through reduced transmission costs, access to new and relevant information, and greater contact with their own field sites and partner organisations. NGO representatives’ responses also indicate that the dissemination of Internet-acquired information is occurring with their stakeholders, regardless whether those stakeholders have connectivity or not. The majority of NGOs surveyed (70%) have only one computer with Internet connectivity within their offices; this presents challenges and restrictions in terms of the frequency with which the Internet can be accessed. A mere 5% of the NGOs with field sites reported that those sites were connected with either email or Internet; 33% reported having field sites without any means of direct voice or data transmission systems. The majority of NGOs with World Wide Web service reported using the systems for accessing and researching documents relevant to their work, but 32% of those organisations reported that they either seldom or never used the Internet that was available to them. Most NGOs reported that they used the email to communicate with international partners; use of the Internet for local communications is low. Respondents reported that email was a very convenient mode of communications, effective in transmitting documents at lower costs than other technologies. Obtaining access to the computers, and the sending and receiving of attached documents proved the most problematic issues for respondents; the latter issue raises questions about the quality of training these organisations are receiving from their ISPs. The paper concludes with lessons learned from the research, and recommends areas for more detailed study.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Cultural Attitudes Towards Communication and Technology, Proceedings > CATaC Conference 1998
Depositing User: Sissi Kemp
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2012 15:36
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2012 11:33
URI: http://sammelpunkt.philo.at/id/eprint/2112

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