Special Issue "ICMTs for Sustainability in the Post COVID-19 Era: Revisiting Conceptual and Policy Narratives"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ravi S. Sharma
Guest Editor
CeIDE & UC Business School, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
Interests: digital & knowledge economics; IT for sustainable development; data-driven analytics
Dr. Stephen Bekoe
Guest Editor
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Accra, Ghana
Interests: digital inclusion; mobile telephony; big data; digital literacy; internet studies
Dr. Aijaz A. Shaikh
Guest Editor
Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, FI-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
Interests: digital consumer behavior; mobile financial services (including financial inclusion); social media research; sharing/digital economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The calamitous COVID-19 pandemic in this age of digital lifestyles and the global ubiquity of the mobile, social Internet has brought Information, Communications & Media Technologies (ICMTs) to the forefront. Lockdowns and stay-at-home directives have led to a rapid and forced digital transformation across the spectrum of industries and geographies. ICMTs have helped more than half of humanity cope with this sudden change in their daily lives of work and leisure. Will ICMTs continue to make such an impact on inclusive and sustainable growth and development in the post COVID-19 era? Historically, while there have been numerous positivist accounts by scholars and practitioners, it is not always clear that they have led to a better world (cf. Qureshi, 2015; Walsham, 2017). ICMTs have been seen as a part of a wider concern for global development, but their role in fulfilling sustainable development has not been adequately understood to drive policy and action (Sharma, Iqbal & Victoriano, 2013; Tjoa & Tjoa, 2016; Asongu & Le Roux, 2017). It has become a matter of faith that ICMTs promote sustainable development. For example, in his plenary address to the 2019 World Economic Forum, Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba, remarked that there are 4 E’s of sustainable development: entrepreneurs, education, e-government, e-frastructure. This is salient as his enterprises could not have innovated and grown without the digital platforms and governance promoted in China and other “leap-frog” economies. But this has clearly not been the case across industries and countries.

The central focus of this Special Issue will be to explore the impact of ICMT in contributing to a post COVID-19, sustainable society as delineated by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainability aims to lessen the impact of the depletion of natural resources, maintain ecological balance, whilst promoting human and economic growth (Van de Kerk & Manuel, 2008). The key questions to be addressed in this Special Issue are: (i) how can ICMT support the SDGs; and (ii) what lessons can we learn from past positive as well as negative outcomes that apply to the post COVID-19 era? The Special Issue is particularly interested in the complex contingencies that arise from the use-cases of emerging ICMTs such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, augmented reality, blockchain, quantum computing, etc. While it has been claimed that ICMT has had a strong influence on the development of economies (cf. Walsham & Sahay, 2006; Walsham, 2017), this has been countered by measured critiques challenging such assumption (cf. Qureshi, 2015). Historically, ICMT advancements have enabled innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness in industry and society and helped in propelling human and economic growth. ICMT investments were believed to be key enablers for achieving the SDGs (Ibujés-Villacís & Franco-Crespo, 2019). It has been conjectured that the world will never be the same again, post COVID-19. Could it be that the benefits of ICMTs have become more a matter of socio-economic survival than sustainability? How have digital inclusion and enterprise have addressed this gap as policy tools? What specific combinations of emerging digital technologies are key drivers of recovery and sustainability in the post COVID-19 era?

This Special Issue invites researchers and policy analysts to submit papers that address the overarching challenge of how ICMTs can or cannot support the SDGs in this new dawn of realism that the post COVID-19 era represents. Both conceptual and policy-oriented narratives are welcome. The specification of a rigorous research methodology, in-depth review of extant literature, and reference to the SDGs will be integral components of evidence-based narratives. Please refer to the submission guidelines of Sustainability. Papers are due by 31 October 2020 and shall be subject to the review process of the journal. The target publication date of the Special Issue is December 2020. For further clarification, please contact the lead Guest Editor, Ravi Sharma, at [email protected]

Dr. Ravi S. Sharma
Dr. Stephen Bekoe
Dr. Aijaz A. Shaikh
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • emerging information technologies
  • use cases
  • benchmarking
  • sustainable development goals

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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