How can ICTs work for development?

29th January 2016

As Costa Rica based co-operative Sulá Batsú turns ten years old, General Director Kemly Camacho shares her thoughts on knowledge management and why she thinks computer engineering is a social science.

Sulá Batsú, co-founded by Kemly Camacho in 2005, works to strengthen Central American social enterprises, community networks and social movements.

It spreads itself across and between a variety of areas, including information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development and citizen action, while promoting collaborative work and knowledge construction, the social economy and culture as an engine of social transformation.

Camacho began her working life in the private sector as a computer engineer but went on to study anthropology and is now a university lecturer in both subjects. ‘Since the beginning I felt that there was something to do with humanity which needed to be integrated into computer engineering,’ she explains.

‘I always say to the computer engineering students that it’s very close to social science – they don’t like the idea at the beginning, but really computers and informatics are crucial for society,’ says Camacho.

'It’s these professionals who are developing the platforms for information and communication processes in the society. It’s very close to the social, it’s very close to what happens in development.’

‘It’s impossible at this moment to imagine development without ICTs,’ she says, stressing that that the strength in technology is how you use it – not just the technology itself. ‘I think ICTs have to be a tool for people to be really informed about the most important topics, the tool for people to know other experiences and practices and improve the way that they live.’

'Looking at ICTs and us as consumers, or consumers of information, or as consumers of devices and gadgets… this kind of ICT and development is not what we promote.’

Find out more about Sulá Batsú here at the organisation’s website (

Sulá Batsú, along with Eldis, are one of the partners in the Global Open Knowledge Hub which had held an international workshop on partnerships for Open Knowledge at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) from 21-23 October. Watch a video recording from this event here at the IDS website.

Read a longer version of this article here at the BRIDGE website.