ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

Setting the stage for a research agenda for IS researchers doing research on sub-Saharan Africa

Victor Mbarika; Muhammadou Kah; Peter Meso; and Philip Musa

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Most of the theoretical frameworks that have been reported in the top IS journals like JASIST, The Information Association, MIS Quarterly (MISQ), Information Systems Research (ISR), Journal of MIS (JMIS), and Journal of the AIS (JAIS) are based on ICT research that has been completed in Western countries like the United States and England. Sub-Saharan Africa is highly tribally segregated, offering a rich variety of languages, social mores, and cultures. The cultural, political, social and economic uniqueness that sub-Saharan Africa presents could provide researchers with fertile ground for fresh extensions of existing theoretical paradigms and sometimes entirely new and different research frameworks. Because of the their uniqueness, the cultural, political, social, and economic traits are likely to moderate the relationship between ICT investments and performance outcomes differently than in Western countries, or even in the more “developed” developing countries.

Using these traits as moderators in research projects on ICT in sub-Saharan Africa will almost assuredly force changes in the underlying theoretical frameworks on which these projects are based. Such research projects could provide researchers and practitioners a rich and insightful template of fundamental IS applications and offer potential tentative generalizations for developing nations. This panel will attempt to come up with some salient issues that would help set the stage for a research agenda for IS researchers that are interested in doing research on sub-Saharan Africa. We will brainstorm on several societal ICT applications vis- -vis cultural, political, social and economic considerations of sub-Saharan African countries. Specifically, panelists will discuss these issues in collaboration with members of the audience to address three main ICT dimensions:

1. Teledensity: The number of telephone land-lines per 100 people;

2. TeleMedicine: The delivery of healthcare where physicians examine distant patients using telecommunications technologies; and

3. TeleEducation: The use of educational (especially Internet-based) technologies to connect geographically dispersed teachers and students.

Dr. Peter Meso will discuss Teledensity; Dr. Philip Musa will look at TeleMedicine and Dr. Muhammadou Kah will examine TeleEducation within the context of sub-Saharan Africa. It should be mentioned that the sponsor and the three members of the panel are from four different sub-Saharan African countries, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya and The Gambia. The panelists have conducted collaborative research for over five years addressing issues related to information technology transfer to developing countries, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Their research has led to over 30 journal and conference papers that focus on this research stream.

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