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ICT4D in the Field 2021

Enrollment is Closed

About This Course

The field of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) generally addresses problems of, and solutions for, the "unconnected people in the world". Currently, this is close to half of the world's population, the majority of whom live in poor, remote, often rural, regions of the world, often in so-called developing low/middle-income countries. The central theme of the 2021 edition of the ICT4D in the Field course is: Artificial Intelligence (AI) in and for the Global South.

Currently, AI is at the center of attention as an innovative ICT technology with a claimed wide range of beneficial application opportunities, although others express doubts and concerns about various developments as undesirable or dangerous. Heavy investments to boost AI and Data Science are taking place in the Global North, particularly in the big power blocs of US, Europe and China. However, what is the case for the Global North is not necessarily valid for the Global South, and this consequently requires independent and critical investigation.

Accordingly, the course ICT4D in the Field undertakes to investigate these matters in and for the Global South, thereby giving due attention to the specific contexts of people's needs as well as the different geographic, economic, cultural and socio-political contexts.


This interdisciplinary course is open for selected master students of VU, UDS, UNIMAS and Aurora universities, having bachelor-level knowledge or experience in a relevant digital field (Information Science, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Humanities, Computational Social Sciences, etc.)

Course Staff

Course Staff Image #1

Anna Bon

Anna Bon is the course coordinator of ICT4D in the Field and the director of the interdisciplinary research, education and community service program "Web alliance for Regreening in Africa" (W4RA). Her interdisciplinary research centers around how innovative context-aware technologies can be developed in a co-creative way to support local value chains and improve food security, serving especially smallholder farmers and communities in Africa’s drylands. Her international projects include digital voice-service support for local cereal seeds value networks in West Africa (Mali); ICT4D Community Service Learning in rural Sarawak, Malaysia; Sustainability and Ethics in Digital Development; AI for Sustainable Development, and the Amsterdam Digital Divide. Anna Bon holds a PhD in the field of ICT4D from Maastricht University.

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Hans Akkermans

Hans Akkermans is professor of Business Informatics (emeritus) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is the Founding Director of the interdisciplinary Network Institute at Amsterdam that studies the interaction between digital technology and society, in which researchers from the faculties of social sciences, humanities, law, economics, and informatics participate. He has worked for many years in knowledge engineering & management, information systems and innovative e-business modelling, with for example applications and innovations in smart electricity distribution networks and the sustainable energy transition that have been internationally field-deployed and are now in industrial and commercial use. His current research interests focus on the interdisciplinary research, education and community service program W4RA (Web alliance for Regreening in Africa). He is co-chair of DigHum’s Curriculum Working Group. He holds a cum laude PhD in theoretical physics in the field of nuclear reactions from the University of Groningen.

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Francis Dittoh

Francis Dittoh is a researcher at the University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana and guest lecturer at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research in the interdisciplinary field of ICT for Development centers around the design and deployment of context-aware, community-centered information systems for people in low-resource environments. He is involved in the establishment of a new Computer Science department and in the design of a new curriculum at UDS. He is a member of the interdisciplinary research program W4RA, founder and director of the Ghanaian tech firm Faith IT Consult and ICT Associate of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Course Staff Image #2

Cheah Wai Shiang

Cheah Wai Shiang is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), in Malaysia. He holds a PhD in software engineering from The Melbourne University, Australia. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher on intelligent agent simulation and sustainable business and value modeling, at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He is a certified educator of the e3value methodology for sustainability and business analysis. His current research is centered around agent-oriented modelling and simulation and blockchain technologies in a context of ICT for Development and Community Service Learning.

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