ICT4D can be interpreted as dealing with disadvantaged populations anywhere in the world, but it is more typically associated with applications in developing countries. It is becoming recognized as an interdisciplinary research field as can be noted by the number of conferences, workshops and publications in the field. Such research have been spurred on in part by the need for scientifically validated benchmarks and results, which can be used to measure the efficacy of current projects. Many international development agencies recognize the importance of ICT4D. For example the World Bank's GICT section has a dedicated team of some 200 staff working on these issues.
A good example of the impact of ICTs on development are African farmers getting better market price information and thus not being impoverished by unfair corps buy-out people. Another example includes mobile telecommunications and radio broadcasting fighting political corruption in Burundi.
The dominant terminology used in this field is "ICT4D". Alternatives include ICTD and development informatics.
The history of ICT4D can, roughly, be divided into three periods:
* ICT4D 0.0: mid-1950s to late-1990s. During this period (before the creation of the term "ICT4D"), the focus was on computing / data processing for back office applications in large government and private sector organisations in developing countries.
* ICT4D 1.0: late-1990s to late-2000s. The combined advent of the Millennium Development Goals and mainstream usage of the Internet in industrialised countries led to a rapid rise in investment in ICT infrastructure and ICT programmes / projects in developing countries. The most typical application was the telecentre, used to bring information on development issues such as health, education, and agricultural extension into poor communities. More latterly, telecentres might also deliver online or partly-online government services.
* ICT4D 2.0: late-2000s onwards. There is no clear boundary between phase 1.0 and 2.0 but suggestions of moving to a new phase include the change from the telecentre to the mobile phone as the archetypal application; less concern with e-readiness and more interest in the impact of ICTs on development; and more focus on the poor as producers and innovators with ICTs (as opposed to just consumers of ICT-based information).