Factors influencing access and utilization of Information Communication Technology for development, among rural communities in Kenya: the case of Tharaka District
purpose of this study was to establish the' factors influencing access and utilization of information communication technologies for development in rural areas of Kenya and specifically in Tharaka District. The study adopted descriptive survey design within a target population of 139,058 people in Tharaka district. The research instruments used were combination of questionnaire and interview schedules as the mail! instruments while observation and transect walk was employed to capture data on the observable/countable variables. The questionnaire was structured and semi structured, open ended and closed. To test the validity of the instruments, a pilot study was undertaken prior to the main study while split half method was used to determine the reliability (internal consistency of the instrument) during the pre-test. The data collection procedure entailed personally visiting heads of the government and other stakeholders' institutions to seek permission to collect data from the target respondents. Descriptive and inferential statistical tools were used to analyse the data. Microsoft excel and SPSS were used for analysis of frequencies while Pearson correlation coefficient was used to find the influence of one variable other the other. The data was presented using tables and frequencies along the descriptive presentation. The study revealed that level of education influenced access and utilization of Information and Communication Technology for development in Tharaka, the technological application factors influenced access and utilization of Information Communication Technology for Development in Tharaka District in that many respondents indicated they had challenges on how to apply the technology in their work. The socioeconomic factors were also found to have influenced access and utilization of Information Communication Technology for Development in Tharaka District for that majority of CBO members indicated they did not have a monthly income and majority of schools lacked power connectivity due to inability to pay for the monthly. The study also revealed that legal framework influenced that utilization of Information Communication Technology for Development in Tharaka District as majority of the members were not aware of government policies and regulations in relations to ICT access and utilization. Per the study findings, infrastructural development influenced the utilization of Information Communication Technology for development in Tharaka District as majority of the respondents indicated lack of power source, telecommunications masts and inaccessibility most of the district due to poor road network. The conclusion of the study was that the five variables namely level of education, technological application, infrastructural development, socioeconomic and government legal framework greatly influenced access and utilization of information communication for development in Tharaka district. The researcher recommended that government and other stakeholders to do the following, find alternative source of power for the community, disseminate and create awareness to the community and learning institutions on the existing ICT policies and application of ICT in development. That school boards, management and district education office to create awareness on value of ICT in learning in order for the committees to prioritize the same during resource allocations and that learning institutions should take lead in introduction of ICT in their operation to spur its rollout in the community. Recommendations were made for further study on factors hindering effective dissemination of government policies, how to community can be supported to effectively apply various ICT tools in development and further detailed study on how individual categories of learning institutions were using ICT in their business.