ICT Challenges and Opportunities for Institutionalizing Democracy in Ghana: An Integrative Review of the Literature

ICT Challenges and Opportunities for Institutionalizing Democracy in Ghana: An Integrative Review of the Literature

Joseph Ofori-Dankwa (Saginaw Valley State University, USA) and Connie Ofori-Dankwa (University of Michigan, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-254-1.ch008
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Several African countries have begun to introduce and implement Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policies. In the context of such developing countries, it is important to assess the nature of research focus on the ongoing ICT revolution and its potential to stimulate institutionalization of democracy in Africa. This chapter reviews and integrates literature by scholars focusing on ICT in Africa in general and more specifically on Ghana. The authors incorporate several key points in their discussion. First, they provide a summary of ICT trends and policies in Ghana and their emphasis on helping to institutionalize democracy and its related free market system. Next, they provide a description of some of the major challenges to institutionalizing democracy that scholars writing about ICT in Ghana have identified. In addition, the authors discuss several opportunities for enhancing democracy that scholars writing about ICT in Ghana have highlighted. Finally, they make a few general recommendations for mitigating the potential problems and enhancing the opportunities of the ICT revolution for Ghana as well as the entire African continent.
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The term “Information and Communication Technology” (ICT) refers to emerging technology revolving around the increasing availability and use of the Internet, personal and organization-wide computer systems that are faster, more powerful, smaller, and less expensive, and increasingly more accurate global wireless and satellite systems. The result of the ICT revolution is an increasing level of connectivity at a rapidly evolving pace, and the heightened possibility of fully-realized national and global connectivity.

There is a corresponding increase in research by Western scholars of the political and democratic governance implications of the ongoing digital revolution (Evans & Yen, 2005; Evans & Yen, 2006; Amoretti, 2006). Different researchers have emphasized different approaches such as depicting the potential e-governance process in Europe as having different stages (Layne & Lee, 2001) and typologies (Amoretti, 2006; Schelin, 2003), or involving the technology enactment process (Fountain, 2001). Nevertheless, these scholars all point to ICT as providing important means for political information, and for broad and mass participation in the governmental decision-making process (Amoretti, 2006).

A noted caveat of ICT is its provocation of a technological divide between more- and less-developed countries (Ifinedo, 2005). If unattended, this technological divide will continue to grow wider as time goes on (Singer et al, 2005). Evans & Yen (2006) notes that e-government in the United States is rapidly expanding and that the total information technology budget will exceed $48 billion in 2002. Referencing a 2003 United Nations Crossroads study, Evans & Yen (2006) compares and ranks global regions in terms of e-government readiness—Africa placed last. A similar study arrives at the same conclusion (Ifinedo, 2005). In essence, African countries have been identified as places where the digital divide is a potentially major and serious socio-economic threat (Wright, 2004).

However, several African countries have begun to introduce and implement ICT and its related policies (Haruna, 2003). Further, to the extent that ICT provides new ways of increased citizenry participation in governance, several major international organizations such as the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations have begun initiating reforms to help harness the potentially positive aspects of these new technologies for nation building and the democratization process in developing countries (Amoretti, 2007).

In the context of such developing countries, there has also been sustained research attention to the potential challenges and opportunities of technology for economic development with a wide range of publication outlets such as the Journal of Technology Transfer (established in 1975) and Information Technology for Development (established in 1990). Focusing more specifically on ICT, the online journal International Journal of Education and Development Using ICT was established in 2003 and has begun to play an equally pivotal role. It is heartening to note the substantial number of studies looking at different aspects of ICT revolution and its implications for developing countries. Indeed scholars focusing specifically on developing economies have both conceptually and empirically begun to examine ICT implications for increasing the democratization process (e.g. Narayan & Nerurkar, 2006; Mensah, 2005)

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Francesco Amoretti
Chapter 1
Francesco Amoretti
In “Electronic Constitution: A Braudelian Perspective”, Francesco Amoretti presents a model for the analysis of time and space structures of digital... Sample PDF
Electronic Constitution: A Braudelian Perspective
Chapter 2
Mauro Di Meglio, Enrico Gargiulo
This chapter offers a long-term perspective on citizenship, questioning one of the basic assumptions of most of the literature on this topic, that... Sample PDF
Old and New Rights: E-Citizenship in Historical Perspective
Chapter 3
Oreste Ventrone
Following the diffusion of e-government in the high income countries, international organizations, notably UN, OECD, World Bank, have promoted the... Sample PDF
International Organizations, E-Government and Development
Chapter 4
Fortunato Musella
The chapter is dedicated at analyzing the strategic use of new technologies in the United States. An evident synergy has been noted between the... Sample PDF
American Electronic Constitution: Reinventing Government and Neo-Liberal Corporatism
Chapter 5
Francesco Amoretti, Fortunato Musella
The challenge of convergence has become a core issue in the European agenda, as the existence of widely accepted administrative standards represents... Sample PDF
The European Administrative Space and E-Government Policies: Between Integration and Competition
Chapter 6
Clementina Casula
The rhetoric used worldwide by policymakers in promoting the uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) emphasizes the advantages... Sample PDF
The EU and the Information Society: From E-Knowledge to E-Inclusion, in Search of Global Leadership
Chapter 7
Nicolas Pejout
Many of African States are focusing on ICTs and developing e-government infrastructures in order to fasten and improve their “formalisation... Sample PDF
World Wide Weber: Formalise, Normalise, Rationalise
Chapter 8
Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, Connie Ofori-Dankwa
Several African countries have begun to introduce and implement Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policies. In the context of such... Sample PDF
ICT Challenges and Opportunities for Institutionalizing Democracy in Ghana: An Integrative Review of the Literature
Chapter 9
Chin-fu Hung
China has vigorously implemented ICTs to foster ongoing informatization accompanying industrialization as a crucial pillar to drive its future... Sample PDF
The Politics of the Governing the Information and Communications Technologies in East Asian Authoritarian States: Case Study of China
Chapter 10
Claudia Padovani, Elena Pavan
Political processes are undergoing profound changes due to the challenges imposed by globalization processes to the legitimacy of policy actors and... Sample PDF
Information Networks, Internet Governance and Innovation in World Politics
Chapter 11
Mauro Santaniello
The Internet Governance debate has, for a long time, been influenced by a well-defined characterization of information networks. The depiction of a... Sample PDF
Who Governs Cyberspace? Internet Governance and Power Structures in Digital Networks
Chapter 12
Diego Giannone
Starting from the assumption that any technology embeds the ideology, politics and culture of the society where it was created, this chapter... Sample PDF
Measuring ICT: Political and Methodological Aspects
Chapter 13
Paolo Landri
This chapter is dedicated to analyse the fabrication of networked socialities, that is to address the complex interweaving of technologies of... Sample PDF
The Fabrication of Networked Socialities
Chapter 14
Virtual Nations  (pages 224-241)
William Sims Bainbridge
Virtual worlds are computer environments in which large numbers of human beings may interact, do useful work for each others, and build enduring... Sample PDF
Virtual Nations
Chapter 15
Francesco Amoretti
This volume does not constitute yet another account of the blessings of ICTs. Nor does it add new criticism to the old, nurturing fears about the... Sample PDF
A Research Agenda for the Future
About the Contributors