Marais’ research focuses on development, especially the use of information and communications technology for development. Community informatics, systems thinking and decision-making expertise are applied to improve service delivery systems in education, health and rural development.
Marais is a CSIR principal researcher in the technology, implementation, monitoring and evaluation research group. Research areas include the role of social capital in information and communications technology for development (ICT4D), systems thinking in evaluation, and the integration of monitoring and evaluation into ICT4D project flow. He does facilitation and problem structuring via soft operations research techniques as well as futures methodologies.
Recent evaluation work includes an ICT for Education project in 26 rural schools (http://www.ict4red.co.za), the use of iPads in schools and the establishment of ICT-hubs for service delivery to rural communities. In the past seven years, projects included managing the monitoring and evaluation of the Digital Doorway initiative (180+ sites – http://www.digitaldoorway.org.za), assessment of a horizon scanning project, and business modelling of an entrepreneurial model for local technical support for a project that provided Internet connectivity to 176 schools and communities in a rural area using wireless mesh technology. He holds Master’s degrees in physical chemistry and theology, and has completed a PhD in informatics on the role of social capital in supporting entrepreneurs supplying ICT-based services in rural communities.
- BSc (Physics and Chemistry) (cum laude), University of Port Elizabeth, 1981
- BSc (Honours) (Physical Chemistry) (cum laude), University of Port Elizabeth, 1982
- MSc (Physical Chemistry) (cum laude), University of Port Elizabeth, 1984
- MTh (Systematic Theology), UNISA, 2002
- PhD (Informatics/Information Systems), University of Pretoria, 2016