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Dr Kutoma Wakunuma

Job: Associate Professor Research and Teaching in Information Systems

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

T: +44 0116 207 (8993)




Personal profile

Dr Kutoma Wakunuma is Associate Professor Research and Teaching in Information Systems. She holds a PhD in Information Communication Technologies for Development and Gender. She has worked and continues to work on a wide range of research projects where she has taken on roles of Principal Investigator, Lead Evaluator as well as being part of the coordination team of projects. Before joining DMU, some of her notable research experiences were as Research Fellow attached to the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany under the Initiativkreis Ruhrgebiet initiative where she was one of three awarded for outstanding research out of sixteen international Research Fellows commissioned on the Fellowship. She had an opportunity to undertake some work experience at Bochum Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Germany which gave great insight into her industry work experience having worked at the Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in her native Zambia. She was also Research Assistant at Sheffield Hallam University before joining DMU as a Research Fellow and going on to be Senior Lecturer before her current Associate Professorship. She is also actively involved in teaching and holds teaching related positions including Module Leadership, Programme Leader in MSc Computing and Deputy Subject Group Leader for the IS Group. Her teaching has involved ICT4D, Computing Ethics, Research Ethics and Professionalism including Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT. She is also heavily involved in PhD Supervision in areas involving ICT4D, Emerging Technologies, Gender, Ethics and RRI. She has also examined several PhD thesis.

Research group affiliations

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Publications and outputs

  • Digital innovations for transitioning to circular plastic value chains in Africa
    Digital innovations for transitioning to circular plastic value chains in Africa Oyinlola, M. A.; Schroeder, Patrick; Whitehead, Timothy; Kolade, Oluwaseun; Wakunuma, Kutoma; Sharifi, Soroosh; Rawn, Barry; Odumuyiwa, Victor; Lendelvo, Selma; Brighty, Geoff; Tijani, Bosun; Jaiyeola, Tomi; Lindunda, Lukonga; Mtonga, Radhia; abolfathi, soroush The paper analyzes the current state of plastic value chains in Africa and the potential of digital innovations adopted by African entrepreneurs to contributing to a circular plastic economy. We provide an overview of plastic waste trade to African countries and an assessment of existing digital solutions that can support the transition to a circular plastic economy. The findings show that various digital innovations are being applied by entrepreneurs including web-based solutions, mobile apps and 3D printing. The case studies also show that multinational companies, especially consumer facing brands, are major players in the national plastic value chains in African countries, acting as seed funders for start-ups as well as buyers of recycled plastics. Current initiatives that are underway are positive signs that changes are in progress to address the environmental and social impacts of plastics value chains in Africa. However, to achieve a transition to sustainable circular value chains, changes at policy level will be required to enable scaling-up of local start-up businesses, address regulatory barriers to digital solutions, create markets for recycled plastic materials and implement extended producer responsibility regulations Centre for Enterprise and Innovation, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Reconceptualising responsible research and innovation from a Global South perspective
    Reconceptualising responsible research and innovation from a Global South perspective Wakunuma, Kutoma; de Castro, Fabio; Jiya, Tilimbe; Inigo, Edurne A; Blok, Vincent; Bryce, Vincent The concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has been developed in the Global North with little reference to what RRI or RRI-like practices mean in the context of the Global South. We discuss the contextual factors driving the emergence of responsible innovation practice and ways in which they can inform efforts to develop an inclusive and global conceptualization of RRI. Findings show that some activities in the Global South are comparable to those of the Global North, although important differences exist in motivations and structures. We go beyond prior framings to propose a reconfigured, inclusive theoretical framework that accounts for trans-regional differences by looking at three cases to illustrate international differences and to demonstrate an RRI continuum. Netherlands represents a more Global North concept of RRI; Malawi a Global South RRI concept and Brazil sits between these two extremes and assimilates RRI concepts from both ends of the continuum. open access article
  • Empowerment Through Women Entrepreneurship: A Case from the Beauty Salon Sector in Sri Lanka
    Empowerment Through Women Entrepreneurship: A Case from the Beauty Salon Sector in Sri Lanka De Silva, Thilini; Barbutiu, Sirkku Männikkö; Wakunuma, Kutoma; Dhameeth, Gehan S. The purpose of the current study was to explore the conditions of empowerment among women entrepreneurs in the beauty salon sector in Sri Lanka by shedding light on the specific challenges faced by women when initiating and developing an enterprise. Focus group discussions were used to create a collaborative platform for businesswomen to meet and exchange experiences on being entrepreneurial women. Twelve women entrepreneurs who own beauty salons in the outskirts of the capital city of Sri Lanka participated in the workshop. Sen's capability approach and Kabeer's empowerment framework was used to interpret the findings. The women in the study face many challenges such as difficulties in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, double burden and tiresome multi-tasking. Research suggests that women’s choice to become an entrepreneur enables them to achieve their practical and strategic gender needs. Nevertheless, too much focus on fulfilling practical gender needs limits the ability of women to fulfil their strategic gender needs. However, entrepreneurial agency has changed their status through improving the wellbeing of women, increasing the actual economic contribution, strengthening the economic security, through the ability to exercise purchasing power to invest on children, sense of self-worth, value within their families and family welfare. The study will increase our understanding of women and their family ties and the challenges women face in multiple roles they play in a developing context like Sri Lanka. open access article
  • Socio-Ethical Implications of Using AI in Accelerating SDG3 in Least Developed Countries
    Socio-Ethical Implications of Using AI in Accelerating SDG3 in Least Developed Countries Wakunuma, Kutoma; Jiya, Tilimbe; Aliyu, Suleiman Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a crucial role in advancing efforts towards sustainable development across the globe. AI has the potential to help address some of the biggest challenges that society faces including health and well-being. Thus, AI can be useful in addressing some health and well-being related challenges by accelerating the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3), namely Good health and well-being. This paper draws on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) SDG selector to identify the SDG that is prioritised in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Out of 32 least developed African countries on the list, SDG3 was the most common SDG, suggesting that health and well-being is a priority for these countries. In order to understand the opportunities and challenges that might result in applying AI in the acceleration of SDG3, the paper uses a SWOT analysis to highlight some socio-ethical implications of using AI in advancing SDGS in the identified LDCs on the DAC list. open access article
  • Exploring Gender Gaps: How Nigerian Micro Business Owners Use Mobile Apps for Business
    Exploring Gender Gaps: How Nigerian Micro Business Owners Use Mobile Apps for Business Owoseni, Adebowale; Wakunuma, Kutoma; Tolani, Adedamola; Twinomurinzi, Hossana This study examined how men and women who own micro-businesses in Lagos, Nigeria, use mobile apps for business. The paper analyses the findings from Amartya Sen’s capability approach viewpoint. The two key findings suggest that women micro-business owners make more use of mobile apps compared to men and that they tend to exit micro-businesses as they grow older indicating a possible influence of patriarchy in African contexts. Specifically, women seized opportunities presented by mobile apps to acquire capabilities to function; and they adopt mobile apps to enhance their wellbeing and freedom despite the restrictions and responsibilities in the patriarchal environments typical of low-income countries. The insignificant gender gap in certain mobile app usages presents new perspectives to debates on gender (economic) gaps, inequality, women empowerment, and technology uptake in low-income country contexts.
  • Power as an ethical concern in the Global South’s digital transformation: Power or empowerment?
    Power as an ethical concern in the Global South’s digital transformation: Power or empowerment? Wakunuma, Kutoma The digitalization of the Global South, particularly with respect to African countries, is moving at a fast pace. This can be seen in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in different domains such as healthcare, education, industry, entertainment, as well as in the provision of e-government services, to name just a few. Such digital progress is seen as positive and often presented as such in international development discussions, for example at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2019 on ICTs for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the positives, there are also negative aspects of digitalization, which have to be addressed in the form of ethical concerns. This paper discusses these concerns by specifically exploring the aspect of power in light of the digital transformation of the Global South. The discussion advanced in this paper is informed by a review of literature. open access article
  • Computing for social good: Supporting microfinance institutions in Zambia
    Computing for social good: Supporting microfinance institutions in Zambia Wakunuma, Kutoma; Siwale, Juliana; Beck, Robert We investigate whether information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to achieve social good as they are implemented in microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Zambia. We find through information gathered from interviews with MFI officials that their organizations are focused primarily on survival in a competitive financial climate. Additionally, our findings reveal that most MFI business within the context of ICTs only promotes social good by default and not by design. This means that social good is not a primary mover or something that MFIs plan to achieve when they integrate ICTs into their business models but that it happens because of the assumed mission of primarily serving the informal sector small business and microbusiness and the low‐income clients. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Responsible Research & Innovation in promoting Sustainable Development and Empowerment through ICT
    Stakeholder Engagement and Responsible Research & Innovation in promoting Sustainable Development and Empowerment through ICT Wakunuma, Kutoma; Jiya, Tilimbe ICT plays a significant role in both developed and developing countries across the globe. ICTs are also seen as playing an important role in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, their importance is seen in terms of achieving sustainable development in the areas of health, education, social inclusion, global partnership and empowerment among others. However, much ground cannot be made without creating and involving communities and networks that will support the sustainable use and development of ICT in emerging and developing countries. One concept that advocates for the inclusion of communities and establishment of networks around the use and development of ICT is Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). At the core of RRI is the engagement of different stakeholders within communities and networks that are involved with ICT development in emerging and developing countries to ensure sustainable development. Using stakeholder theory, we introduce the work being conducted in the Responsible Research and Innovation Networked Globally (RRING) project to highlight the important role of stakeholders as part of RRI in the use and development of ICTs in emerging and developing countries. In particular, we will discuss how stakeholder engagement as part of RRI can be understood in an emerging country like India, specifically through our discussion of a women’s artisan handicraft centre known as Gramshree in the heart of Ahmedabad, India. We aim to highlight aspects of stakeholder engagement, the role of stakeholders in implementing ICTs in women’s sustainable development and empowerment. The aim is to showcase how sustainable development and empowerment could be achieved through the formation of a community network around ICT use and development. open access journal
  • Robot Enhanced Therapy for Children with Autism (DREAM): A Social Model of Autism
    Robot Enhanced Therapy for Children with Autism (DREAM): A Social Model of Autism Richardson, Kathleen; Coeckelbergh, Mark; Wakunuma, Kutoma; Billing, Erik; Ziemke, Tom; Gomez, P.; Vanderborght, Bram; Belpaeme, Tony The development of social robots for children with autism has been a growth field in the last 15 years. This paper reviews studies in robots and autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts on social-communication development and the way in which social robots could help children with autism develop social skills. Drawing on the ethics research from the EU funded DREAM project (framework 7), based on incorporating perspectives in our way of understanding autism from autism advocacy, parents of children with autism, medical practitioners in the field, and adults with Asperger’s, we propose that we start from the position that the child with autism is a social being with difficulties in expressing this sociality, and then following on from this core assumption, exploring how social robots can help children with autism develop social skills. We challenge the view that children with autism prefer technologies over other kinds of activities (exploring nature or the arts), engagements with other living beings (animals) or lack interest in human relationship (particularly close caregivers). Development of Robot-enhanced Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Cloud computing, capabilities and intercultural ethics: Implications for Africa
    Cloud computing, capabilities and intercultural ethics: Implications for Africa Wakunuma, Kutoma; Masika, Rachel This paper evaluates the potential benefits, drawbacks and ethical risks of cloud computing for African countries in the context of information communication technologies for development (ICT4D). The paper argues that the capability approach, incorporating development ethics, provides a useful framework for considering the ethics of cloud computing in Africa. Coupled with global and intercultural ethics perspectives, both provide a rich human-centred view of the technology's benefits, drawbacks and ethical risks. Focussing on the transformational benefits and features of cloud computing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the health sector, the paper highlights potential ethical risks that are cause for concern. The paper concludes that while cloud computing has considerable potential for advancing development through the enhancement of capabilities, there remain huge challenges in its efficient, effective and ethical use. As a result, ethical risks related to equity, ownership, dependency, privacy, trust and security that reflect ‘unfreedoms’ and ‘capability deprivations’ may consequently have an impact on the technology's potential as an information communication technology for development. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Click here to view a full listing of Kutoma Wakunuma's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Dr Wakunuma has an interest in understanding how modern technologies impact society both in the developed and developing world. In particular, she is interested in understanding the role that current and emerging technologies play in the development processes of both developed and developing countries. Having work experience in both these settings, she has developed a keen interest in understanding the ethics of technologies; digitalisation of both the Global South and Global North; gender implications related to accessibility, adoption and use of technologies as well as a keen interest in the UNs Sustainable Development Goals. Her work involves research in:

  • ICT4D
  • Emerging Technologies and Ethics
  • Gender
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Civil Society Organisations research
  • Social media
  • Stakeholder evaluation
  • Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)/Responsible Innovation (RI)

Some of Dr Wakunuma's esteem indicators include but are not limited to:

  • Visiting Lecturer and PhD Supervisor within the Department of Computer and Systems Science at Stockholm University, Sweden
  • Editorial Board Member - Journal of Responsible Technology
  • Editorial Board Member - The Regional Journal of Information and Knowledge Management
  • Independent Expert and Ethics Advisor with the European Commission
  • European Commission proposal evaluator
  • Invited evaluator for South Africa's National Research Foundation
  • External peer reviewer on the Leading Fellows Postdoc (LFP) Programme which is a joint initiative of universities in the Netherlands funded by the EU
  • Reviewer for such journals as: Telecommunications Policy; Information Technology & People; Journal of Information Communication and Ethics in Society; ETHICOMP series conference papers
  • Guest Editor: Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society

Areas of teaching

  • ICT for Development
  • Computer Ethics
  • Research Methods
  • Gender
  • Responsible (Research and) Innovation
  • Privacy and Data Protection


  • PhD - Information Communication Technologies for Development and Gender (Coventry University, UK) 
  • Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCert. Teaching) (De Montfort University, UK)
  • MA - Women’s Studies (Challenges in management and decision-making positions) (Lancaster University, UK)
  • HND - Management Information Systems (Zambia Institute of Management)

Courses taught

  • Research Ethics and Professionalism in Computing (IMAT5262)
  • Responsible Research and Innovation (CTEC5813)
  • ICT for Development (IMAT 3112)

Honours and awards

  • DMU award on Exploring Sustainable Development in Ahmedabad, India, 2019
  • Coventry University PhD full Studentship, 2007
  • The Open Society Institute scholarship award for the Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme at Oxford University, UK, 2006
  • United Nations World Summit on the Information Society Award in Tunis, Tunisia, 2005
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Scholarship for gender mainstreaming in a cross-cultural context with Foneta Gmbh in Chemnitz, Germany, 2004
  • Initiativkreis Ruhrgebiet Fellowship. One of 3 out of 16 international scholars that was honoured for outstanding research in January 2002
  • An Internet Society award on national network management training at the KEIO University in Yokohama, Japan, 2000
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Scholarship attend the International Women’s University in Germany, 2000
  • Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) scholarship with LIFE academy in Sweden on Information Technology Management, 2000
  • International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Working Conference award in Cape Town, South Africa, 2000 
  • University of Arizona Women’s Studies support for The Future of Women’s Studies Working Conference in Tucson Arizona, United States of America, 2000

Membership of professional associations and societies

IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing) 9.4


  • DITCh Plastic project, UKRI/GCRF funded, A multisectoral, international and interdisciplinary project aimed at utilizing digital innovations to accelerate the transition to a circular plastic economy (CPE) in Africa, 2020 - 2021(Co-PI)
  • RRING (Responsible Research and Innovation Networked Globally) Project, EU funded 2018 – 2021 (DMU Principal Investigator)
  • Hypatia project looking at encouraging teenagers especially girls to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, EU funded, 2015 – 2018 (Principal Evaluator/Consultant)
  • SATORI (Stakeholders Acting Together On the ethical impact assessment of Research and Innovation), EU funded, 2014 - 2017 (DMU Scientific Lead and WP Leader)
  • Network Analysis of Civil Society Organisations Participation in Research Framework Programmes, EU funded tender, 2014 - 2016 (Senior Researcher)
  • GREAT (Governance for Responsible Innovation), EU funded, 2013 (Senior Researcher)
  • CONSIDER (Civil Society Organisations in Designing Research Governance), EU funded, 2012 - 2015 (Part of the coordination team and Senior Researcher)
  • IDEGOV (Identification and Governance of Emerging Ethical Issues in Information Systems), CIGREF funded, 2011 - 2012 (DMU Scientific Lead)
  • ETICA (Ethical Issues of Emerging ICT Applications), EU funded, 2009 - 2011 (Research Fellow and part of the Coordinating Team)

Conference attendance

Among many others

  • IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing) 
  • Ethicomp
  • DSA (Development Studies Association conference)
  • GoNano conference 
  • Digitalisation in Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Technology Development and Justice Conference

Current research students

Current Students
1. Aisha Abubakar - Identity Theft Investigation in Nigeria (1st)
2. Naome Gapara - Adoption of digital technology to increase South Africa's SME profitability and performance (1st)
3. Annabel Mwagalanyi - Caught between people and technology: Understanding the role support volunteers give to female refugees in accessing employment (2nd)
4. Abigail Udoma - eVoting in Nigeria (2nd)
5. Rachel Harris - The Violent Sexual Ethics of 21st Century Patriarchal Techno-Capitalism (2nd)
6. 1 PhD Supervision with Stockholm University - The use of Social Media by Women Entrepreneurs in the Beauty Salon Sector (2nd)
Please note that some of the above titles will alter slightly as the research progresses. Therefore take the titles as pointers to the research thesis under progress.

PhD Completions
1. Anietie Isong - The Influence of New Media Technologies on African Literature (2018 - 04)
2. Tilimbe Jiya - An Evaluation of Stakeholder Engagement in ICT Research Projects (2018 - 09)
3. Samuel Liyala - Exploring Performance Ethnography to illuminate mobile banking Capabilities in Western Kenya: Capability Approach Study (2012)

PhD Examinations
1. Molla Allemu - Impact of Human Activity on Protected Areas: A case study of Nech Sar National Park in Ethiopia (2020)
2. Job Timmermans - Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation in Research Projects (2017)
3. Fahad Naser K. Alqahtani - Identifying the critical factors that impact on the Development of Electronic Government using TOE Framework in Saudi E-Government Context: A Thematic Analysis (2016)
4. Michael Healey - Alienation and Information Communications Technology (2014)
5. Yahya AlHareth - An investigation into the contribution of e-learning to the improvement of higher education opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia (2014)
6. Eric Agyei-Bekoe - Empirical Investigation of the Role of Privacy and Data Protection in the Implementation of Electronic Government in Ghana (2013)

Professional esteem indicators

Information, Communication and Society Journal Reviewer

Information Technologies & International Development Reviewer

Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society Guest Editor, (2011)

ORCID number