Interpreting ICT Policy Processes in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Uganda

  • Andrea Bardelli-Danieli

Student thesis: Phd


Several studies suggest that the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in developing countries (DCs) can help such countries achieve national development goals - especially if accompanied by appropriate government policies designed to regulate and promote the use and the diffusion of ICTs in the national context. Over the past few years 'ICT policy' has thus become something worthy of academic attention, in particular in the ambit of ICT-for-development (ICT4D) literature. Scholarly studies on the subject have so far focused however primarily on policy content, and have often been prescriptive and/or evaluative in nature. Relatively less attention has been paid instead to the processes by which ICT policy is made in DCs - a lacuna reflected also in the relative scarcity, in the realm of ICT4D literature, of detailed theoretical frameworks with which to study ICT policymaking practice in DCs. This study intends to help fill this lacuna, by proposing an innovative framework for the analysis of ICT policy processes in DCs, and subjecting such a framework to a first 'proof of concept', through its application to a particular case (ICT policymaking in Uganda). In recognition of the importance of the cognitive aspects of policy practice, the framework proposed is interpretive in nature, and is organised around three 'movements', or steps: an analysis of the linguistic and non-linguistic constructs employed by policy actors to articulate discourse on ICT policymaking; an analysis of the key discourses around ICT policy constructed by policy actors in specific settings; and an analysis of the composition and the strength of the 'alliances', or coalitions, of actors that construct and propagate specific discourses in such settings. The ultimate purpose of this type of analysis is to understand how specific discourses on, or 'versions' of the ICT policy process gain particular purchase and acceptance in given national settings, thereby providing ICT policy actors with elements for reflection on the practices they are involved in. The framework proposed is particularly innovative in that integrates elements derived from mainstream political science and policy analysis literature - thus going some way in solidifying theorization in the ambit of ICT4D research. The study draws conclusions at two levels: at case level, findings indicate that Ugandan discourse around ICT policymaking appears to be constrained by the existence of a powerful, overall political discourse that defines ICT policy as necessarily 'participative'; at the level of theory and method, findings suggest that the framework proposed appears to be a viable and useful one for research on ICT policymaking practice in DCs.
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Heeks (Supervisor) & Ping Gao (Supervisor)


  • participation
  • development policy
  • East Africa
  • Uganda
  • argumentative discourse analysis
  • ICT4D
  • interpretive policy analysis
  • ICT for development
  • ICT policy
  • discourse coalitions

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