Analysing South Korea's ICT for Development Aid Programe

Since the year 2000, there has been a significant growth in the ICT4D component of South Korea's aid programme. Given Korea's ICT capabilities and demands for ICT4D support from developing nations, this may make good sense. This paper, though, analyses a little deeper, starting to ask some initial questions about underlying perspectives and actual performance. It provides an overview of ICT4D expenditure levels, programmes, and key actors. It then reflects field data to date, which suggests some question marks over Korea's telecentre projects, some potential inequity in impacts, and a focus on Korean production of ICT goods and services. It analyses Korean ICT4D in terms of some basic concepts to find it associated with technological-determinism and techno-optimism, with the modernisation paradigm, with tied aid, and with the potential for creating dependency. However, Korea may not be unique among ICT4D actors in this and, in some ways, its techno-optimism may be a useful counter to the techno-pessimism that seems to have infected some Western donors. It concludes by noting some recommendations for Korea's ICT4D programme, and reflecting that Korea may be representative of a wider new wave of ICT4D donors such as India and China which may not follow quite the same line as Western donors.

Heejin Lee
Seungkwon Jang
Kyungmin Ko
Richard Heeks
© Electronic Journal of Information System in Developing Countries , 2008