Empowering Communities in Marginalized Surroundings: Opportunities from Collaborative Community-Managed Electrification and Advanced ICT

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Marginalized communities in Africa present a challenge for sustainable and equal development. Opportunities for breaking out from poverty are scarce. Electrification has been seen to act as an important enabler for improving livelihood in such surroundings. However, the activities and services that are enabled by electricity are often the desired outcomes. Aspects of special importance relate to improved earnings: business development and entrepreneurial work. Such activities are usually supported with advanced ICT. However, the introduction and operation of such systems requires substantial resources. In this paper, we explore collaborative practices that may lower these resource demands. Accordingly, we present a case study conducted in an African marginalized community showing how collaborative introduction and operation of electricity and advanced ICT infrastructure were sustained by the local community members. We also show the processes that were followed in engaging ICTs. The study is based on a research and piloting project that seek ways to establish a community-centered ICT infrastructure for electricity and Internet connectivity enabling the members of the marginalized community to get access to digital services. We argue that the experimented infra-structure will give the community an opportunity to improve their livelihoods by using the Internet and access to information for eLearning, e-government services, and a wide market for selling local products. Importantly however, our findings include the collaborative remote support for the deployment and usage of the infrastructure improving sustainability. Such a new approach can be considered of importance given that traditional electrification and digitalization projects often degrade or even cease to exist soon after handing over everything to the community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI Greece 2021: 1st International Conference of the ACM Greek SIGCHI Chapter
ISBN (Electronic)9781450385787
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventInternational Conference of the ACM Greek SIGCHI Chapter - Virtual, Online
Duration: 25 Nov 202127 Nov 2021
Conference number: 1


ConferenceInternational Conference of the ACM Greek SIGCHI Chapter
Abbreviated titleCHI Greece
CityVirtual, Online


  • ICT4D
  • electrification
  • digital services
  • sustainability
  • community-centered ICT


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