Provost Muhammadou Kah Leads IS Ph.D. Students to International Conference on Social Implications of Computers, in Tanzania

Provost Muhammadou Kah Leads IS Ph.D. Students to International Conference on Social Implications of Computers, in Tanzania

Ph.D. candidate, Ibrahim Inuwa presents a report on the participation of the AUN IS team to the 15th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries 2019.

The Conference, with the theme, “Strengthening Southern-Driven Cooperation as a Catalyst for ICT4D”, was held from May 1 to 3. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor M.O. Kah led the AUN delegation. His report:

“Our supervisors (Prof. Muhammadou M. O. Kah, Dr. Chidi Ononiwu, and Dr. Salisu Dasuki) participated at the conference to support, encourage us and engage with other ICT4D scholars. This was indeed a very fruitful conference and undoubtedly AUN's young IS Ph.D. programs quality was felt and appreciated.

The peer-reviewed papers presented were published in Springer book chapters as follows:

  1. Inuwa I., Ononiwu C., Kah M.M.O., Quaye A.K.M. (2019) Mechanisms Fostering the Misuse of Information Systems for Corrupt Practices in the Nigerian Public Sector.

Iliya, A., Ononiwu, C. G., Kah, M. M.O., & Quaye, A. K. (2019, May). Mobile Phone Use for Empowerment and Well-Being of the Physically Challenged.

Shuaibu, A., Dasuki, S., & Kah, M. M.O. (2019, May). Investigating the Implementation of ICT Tools to [the] Electoral Process in Nigeria.

Dasuki S.I., Abubakar N.H. (2019). The Contributions of WhatsApp to Social Inclusion: A Case of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria:

The IFIP WG9.4 2019 conference provided us with great opportunities as Ph.D. researchers undertaking information systems (IS) Ph.D. research to share and discuss our preliminary findings with reputable scholars in our respective research areas. We have gained valuable inputs and feedback from prominent IS researchers, such as Prof. Emeritus Geoff Walsham, Judge Business School, Cambridge University, UK; Prof. Brian Nicholson, Manchester Business School, UK; Prof., Kweku-Muata A Osei-Bryson, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA; Prof. Richard Heeks, University of the Manchester, UK; Prof. Petter Nielsen, University of Oslo, Norway; Prof. Devinder Thapa, University of Agder, Norway; Prof. Sundeep Sahay, University of Oslo, Norway; Prof. M. Lynne Markus, Bentley University, USA; Prof. Chrisanthi Avgerou, London School of Economics, the UK.

In addition, we shared our progressing research with other presenters from over 30 reputable universities (for example, USA, Finland, Tanzania, Denmark, Uganda, India, Norway, UK, South Africa, Germany, Nigeria, Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Sweden, etc.). Such experiences will enable us to our research projects further.

A major highlight at the conference includes in-depth and engaging discussions and exchanges amongst world-renowned ICT4D scholars that focused on “Cross-country generalization of context-specific research on ICT and development”. It was an engaging panel discussion that was chaired by prominent IS scholar, Prof. Chrisanthi Avgerou of the London School of Economics, UK. The panelists included Prof. M. Lynne Markus of the Bentley University, USA, Prof. Sundeep Sahay of the University of Oslo, Norway, and Emeritus Prof. Geoff Walsham of the Judge Business School, Cambridge University, the UK.

The panel discussion triggered an insightful and engaging academic debate and discourse on “generalization of research findings and/or outcomes”. In particular, our Provost and Professor of IT & Computing, Prof. Muhammadou M.O. Kah triggered the debate and intense discourse during the panel’s submissions of their insights and perspectives.  Prof. Kah shared an alternative perspective and unique insights as his contribution to the debate and discourse with his colleague ICT4D scholars and panelists. He shared insightful and alternative perspectives for consideration by the panelists and other researchers. He contributed an alternative view and perspective to the discourse and submitted that the current view about “generalization of research findings and/or outcomes” should be approached and understood from the bottom up as well. He underscores that he is not suggesting that the current view of generalization should be abandoned, rather, it is inadequate without the bottom-up approach and context. His contribution was well received and endorsed by his colleague ICT4D scholars.

In addition, Dr. Chidi Ononiwu also added his voice to support and strengthen Prof. Kah’s considered contribution by the Panelist of ICT4D scholars. He also submitted that generalization, especially in critical realism, can be achieved through analytical generalization, that is to say, that findings in one case can only be generalized to the contest upon which the research is carried out.  If findings are to be generalized to other cases or even countries, then the Bhaskar, RRREIC schema can offer a useful starting point and even perhaps the solution to cross-country generalization of findings. I must say it was an enlightening exchange and discourse led by our AUN scholars. It was appreciated by all participants. AUN’s presence was indeed felt.

Another feature that captured the attention of the participants was the three keynote speeches:

(1)    Professor Emeritus Geoff Walsham on “South-South and Triangular Cooperation in ICT4D”. The speaker explored the issue of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and some ICT4D opportunities in this area will be identified. He argues that challenges such as who is doing the driving, who benefits from the work, and why Southern-based research is not well represented in the ‘top’ journals. An exemplary case study was introduced and five ways forward for the ICT4D field was also discussed by Professor Emeritus. In response, Prof. Kah of AUN has seen the need for research beyond the South-South, he argued that ICT4D research should be triangular enough to accommodate the northern diaspora.

(2)    Dr. Jabiri Kuwe Bakari (CEO, e-government Agency) on “Power of Home Grown ICT Solutions in Developing Countries.” In his presentation, Dr. Bakari stressed that the developing countries should realize the power that “home-grown” ICT solutions have in solving many existing challenges of these countries. He argued that the challenges that befall the developing countries are as a result of their overreliance on the ICT solutions from the developed countries. The problems of developing countries is not a complex one, thus they do not need complex ICT solution either. He expects that the policymakers, researchers, innovators, implementers, and the consumers of ICT solutions to be aware of the potentials that “home-grown” ICT solutions have in solving the challenges of developing countries, by using the internally developed human capital capacities and novelties advocated by research and innovation in the ICT field.   

(3)    Prof. Maung K. Sein on “Doing ICT4D and developing South-South Cooperation.” The Professor believed that the conference was timely and a strong reminder to note is that innovations do not come only from the North to South, but the reverse can be equally, perhaps more strongly, the case. He argued that countries in the so-called South are increasingly showing a progression from being the recipient of ideas and ICT initiatives from mostly donor-driven North, but also developing ideas and initiatives on their own. Thus, these initiatives trickle “up” to the North, a phenomenon termed as “reverse innovation”.  He argued his points by giving examples that include the ICT-based M-Pesa and microfinance. The Professor concluded that while the North has learned from the South, there is little evidence of South-South learning. Thus, the South-South issues are more general and go beyond ICT4D

Overall, our contributions were appreciated by the conference track chairs (Prof. Richard Heeks, and Prof. Devinder Thapa); they were really encouraged that such excellent IS Ph.D. research presentation is emerging from American University of Nigeria’s IS Ph.D. program.  Prof. Richard Heeks in particular, encouraged us to continue the path of rigorous and excellent research, submit our work to reputable peer refereed IS journals to share our findings with researchers across the world. He further encouraged us to be fully involved in the development of our research and active participation in the research ecosystem of the ICT4D community.

Thus, Prof. Kah, who connected with his colleagues at the IFIP WG 9.4 community and connected us to them (Prof. Chrisanthi Avgerou, Prof. M Lynne Markus, Prof. Sundeep Sahay, Prof. Emeritus Prof. Geoff Walsham, Prof. Maung Sein, Prof. Kweku-Muata Osei-Bryson, Prof. Robert Davison Dr. P. J. Wall, Prof. Richard Heeks, Prof. Petter Nielsen, Prof. Jean-Paul Van Belle, Prof. Hossana Twinomurinzi and Prof. Devinder Thapa). He conveyed appreciation for the valuable inputs and encouragement provided to shape up our research and initiated discussions to explore opportunities for research collaborations, partnerships and exchanges to strengthen AUN’s  IS research and in particular the IS research for our Ph.D. program at the American University of Nigeria. He requested for their support and assured them that his return to Africa and AUN in particular, is to reawaken and continue his contribution to scale up the culture and delivery of high-quality research amongst our Ph.D. students and faculty and to enhance the stock of quality PhDs and researchers from Africa. He assured them that research standards will be upheld by the AUN learning community– only that evidenced attainment of global standards and high-quality research will be awarded an AUN Ph.D.

At the closing ceremony of the conference, Prof. Kah called upon IFIP WG 9.4 and country hosts and organizers to double their efforts on travel visa logistic support of Ph.D. students and be more responsive to email follow-ups. He noted the importance of participants, especially Ph.D. students to request their travel visas early enough. He expressed regret and disappointment that five AUN Ph.D. students were not granted their travel visas on time and some did not hear back from the organizers resulting in them missing the conference. His advice was acknowledged and apologies were made to the affected Ph.D. students. Kenya and South Africa contested for hosting the 2021 IFIP conference. The country that will host the event will be announced at a later date.

We, therefore, want to use this medium to thank and appreciate our amiable and highly rated supervisors Prof. Muhammadou M.O. Kah, Dr. Chidi Ononiwu and Dr. Salisu Dasuki at the conference, for opening our eyes to the rigors of academic research. We wish to thank IS Department Chair, Dr. Olumide Longe (who co-authored a paper that was presented at the conference: for his kind support and gestures.  We also express our appreciation to the Dean of SITC, the VPAA & Provost, and the President, for their tireless efforts to support our Ph.D. research and in making sure that AUN is placed among the best Universities in Africa and the world at large.

By Ibrahim Inuwa (Ph.D. Research Student)