The ICT health checkup tool: Assessing connectivity of the national agriculture research system (NARS)

P. Hixson, P. Goldsmith, T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the global knowledge economy, connectivity is the oxygen for any research and development institutions such as those within the National Agriculture Research System (NARS). The need to empower the NARS to assume research and development leadership requires superior information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. Specifically, the manuscript addresses two new research questions: 1) what is the state, both quantitatively and qualitatively, of ICT at a NARS institution, and 2) what should a tool look like whereby NARS network managers can on their own benchmark and monitor the state of their ICT systems. The research team employs the case study method to measure the state of ICT connectivity for the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), a leading station within the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of Ghana. Additionally, the research team develops, describes, and applies a new assessment tool, the ICT Health Checkup, which NARS and higher education institutions can utilize. This research fills a void in the ICT for development literature, which to date provides no guidance for research institutions in the developing world as to how they are to access the connectivity they need to be able to provide scientific leadership at the national, regional, and international level. The results quantify the gap between the needs of the researchers, support staff, and administration and the available service. Additionally, the ICT Health Checkup Tool not only shows NARS leadership their connectivity gaps, but also provides specific and measurable benchmarks of the physical infrastructure, intranet services, and capacity of the ICT staff. Finally, the case study provides important insights as to the way forward. The case motivates the underlying economies of scale associated with ICT systems, and the need for NARS to leave the current model of individual contracts with telecom providers. Collaborating with like institutions aggregates demand, which in turn lowers the costs per unit of bandwidth. In this vein, the case study shows the value of the relatively new National Research and Education (NREN) model to bring much needed connectivity to the region's agricultural researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16447-16470
Number of pages24
JournalAfrican Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2020


  • Connectivity
  • Ghana
  • Information and communication technology
  • National research and education network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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