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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  

Nicolas Friederici

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Sanna Ojanperä

University of Oxford

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: October 13, 2016

Abstract

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

Friederici, Nicolas and Ojanperä, Sanna and Graham, Mark, The Impact of Connectivity in Africa: Grand Visions and the Mirage of Inclusive Digital Development (October 13, 2016). Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries. (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2855398

Nicolas Friederici (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/nicolas-friederici/

Sanna Ojanperä

University of Oxford ( email )

Oxford Internet Institute
1 St Giles
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Mark Graham

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.geospace.co.uk

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