When it’s time to leave the stage | 20 Years of Building Digital Capacities
20 years after its foundation, IICD ceased operations in The Hague on December 31, 2015. We devolved existing activities to strong and capable organisations within our local partner network and organised our network digitally so that people interested in ICT4D could further connect with strong, experienced and locally relevant ICT4D players capable of serving ICT4D projects and programmes directly.
Over the years, we proved that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can accelerate socio-economic development and that a methodology based on principles such as multi-stakeholder engagement, demand-driven approach and local ownership, is key to integrate and sustain ICT-enabled activities. Our investments in enabling individuals, organisations and networks to adequately serve the ICT needs of local stakeholders resulted in conducive environments with experienced partners well suited to offer cost-effective and locally relevant ICT-enabled solutions.
“It is a great honour and privilege to continue the work of IICD in Ethiopia and support partners to help people and organisations access information relevant to their needs and aspirations. IICD’s philosophy, experience and people-centred approach remain fundamental to successful ICT4D activities in Ethiopia. IICD provided us with the guidance, knowledge and means to continue its legacy and we are confident about the future,” said Gillian Brewin, IICD’s Ethiopia Country Representative / ExoTalent Managing Partner.
A changing environment
“IICD continues to believe that digital technologies can help people in developing contexts improve their living and working conditions, but the focus should now lie on further networking and strengthening local initiatives to be the principal service providers – that’s where the priority in IICD’s reorganisation in 2015 has been,” said Suzanne van der Velden, IICD’s Managing Director. In the context of a changing international development landscape in which ICT and capacity building no longer figured prominently on institutional donors’ financing agendas, funding ICT4D capacity building through a primarily Netherlands-based organisation no longer made good business sense. We opted to not let go of our holistic approach to ICT4D in pursuit of commercial ventures but rather to adhere to our original mandate to remain independent from any commercial interest groups.
These circumstances limited the basis for further continuing our activities and therefore we decided that it was time to leave the stage. “Despite all the programmatic support we received from other development partners, there is an unfortunate fact: when your own government fails to support you as a civil society organisation, it becomes practically impossible to execute your mission at the scale IICD was used to delivering,” said Karel de Beer, Chairman of IICD’s Executive Board. “We hope that the future will see support for what the field of ICT4D needs beyond transient tech hypes, acting as a catalyst and adopting a genuinely demand-driven approach, which was the basic core of IICD’s philosophy and existence.”
Continuation and legacy
Our initiatives are carried on by our partners such as ExoTalent, Africa eHealth Solutions (AeHS), ChaskiTech, CERTES and others who represent IICD’s success in bringing people, technology and socio-economic development closer together. “Africa eHealth Solutions represents the continuation of IICD’s eHealth experience and solutions. We are a network of service providers continuing IICD’s strong track record in data management for result based financing, hospital management and telemedicine. The market is there and we have plenty of experience with making it happen. As a network, we are here to share solutions, implement and support, and keep each other sharp on quality and best practices,” says Nic Moens, Director of Africa eHealth Solutions (AeHS).
To make available our wealth of knowledge, experience and network of ICT4D professionals for others to draw on, we proudly introduce IICD’s legacy website and digital network which we hope will continue bringing people together to exchange knowledge and experiences in the field of ICT4D, and serve as a jump off point for new collaborations.
“December 2015 marks an end of an era for IICD. In what is perhaps its final act of graceful self-effacement,” said Kentaro Toyama, IICD International Advisory Board Member, “over time, I came to understand IICD’s approach as one of enlightened, quality mentorship – one enabled by a period of broad-minded funding by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. IICD’s methodology was to listen carefully to the aspirations of their partners and then to do everything possible to nurture in them the ability to achieve their own goals.”
Our gratitude goes out to our staff, global network of ICT4D professionals, and local and international partners who throughout the years trusted and supported our work to enable people in developing contexts to become drivers of positive social change.