The Rural ICT Toolkit is addressed mainly to African policymakers and regulators and other interested parties who wish to develop rural ICT programs and projects in their countries. It is also aimed at those wanting to foster regional harmonisation, allowing for cross-border initiatives that can increase economies of scale and thus the attractiveness of the rural ICT market to private investors and players. However, they expect it also to be useful for private sector players wishing to promote projects, by providing a checklist of issues and components to be addressed in project preparation and approaches to donors and other financiers.
The Rural ICT Toolkit, financed by infoDev within the context of the African Connection project, and published in 2004, concentrates on the “how to” of implementing rural ICT programs and projects in Africa.
It is aimed at providing state of the art knowledge and best practice on rural ICT development, basic recommended standards and tools for rural ICT initiatives. Among other things, it summarises best practice on rural ICT policy, funding principles & processes, monitoring and evaluation. It provides a basic understanding for technology options available. It offers a framework to select appropriate rural ICT projects, and it explains essentials of demand studies, business plans and socio-economic impact analysis.
The objective of the Toolkit is to act as a ‘basic platform document’ to bring all of the key players together with a common understanding of rural ICT development and an agreed checklist of what is needed to:
- prepare programs and projects,
- document the projects, and
- demonstrate development impact, long-term commercial viability and justification for financial start-up support.
The toolkit explains crucial elements of rural ICT program and project development at the national level. It provides checklists and tools relating to essential components, in approximate order of priority in which issues must be considered. Each is addressed in a separate chapter of the document.