For more than a decade international institutions, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the UN and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have been pushing African countries to invest in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as a strategy for social and economic development. They argue that ICT infrastructure is a prerequisite for adequate development, and suggest ICT will bring ‘opportunities of the global digital economy’ to remote parts and communities of Africa. Through out the era of the 1990’s African countries have followed this advice and invested heavily in ICT infrastructure expansion. However, little research has been done to determine the impact of these policies. Now that much of Africa faces challenges of health epidemics and crumbling civil infrastructure (roads, water supply, etc) African policy makers must make crucial decisions: Should they continue to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure or shift focus to health care and education and so on? In this paper we attempt to fill this gap in research on ICT in Africa. We investigate investments in ICT, health care and education and their efficiency with regard to improving human development measures for five African countries for the period 1993-1999, which is the period during which consistent and sustained ICT investments took place in the countries under study. We use Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and archival data from the ITU and World Bank. Our findings suggest that some countries are technically efficient but others could benefit from alternative policies to improve their utilization of ICT and other investments to achieve higher levels of development as defined by key Human Development Index (HDI) measures.
Bollou, Felix; Ngwenyama, Ojelanki; and Morawczynski, O., "The impact of investments in ICT, health and education on development: a DEA analysis of five African countries from 1993-1999" (2006). ECIS 2006 Proceedings. 35.