The Impact of Connectivity in Africa: Grand Visions and the Mirage of Inclusive Digital Development
Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries. (Forthcoming)
23 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 13, 2016
Corporations, development organisations and governments have launched ambitious programmes to ‘connect the unconnected’, reasoning that this creates economic growth and inclusive development. This paper contrasts these actors’ discourses with evidence from academic research. The evidence suggests a highly uneven economic impact of Internet connectivity across geographies and social strata. The analysed sources of discourse (African ICT policies and reports by international organisations) instead propose Grand Visions of connectivity, attributing a self-evident positive, widespread, and transformational impact to the Internet. We discuss technological determinism, acontextual modernism, and optimistic simplism as underlying this contrast, calling for more reflexivity towards the opportunities of ‘digital development’.
Keywords: connectivity, Internet, discourse analysis, economic development, inequality, modernism, digital development
JEL Classification: O20, O33, O38, O40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation