ICTs and Governance in Africa

ICTs and Governance in Africa

W. M. Olatokun (Wole Michael Olatokun Africa Regional Centre for Information Sciences (ARCIS), Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch146
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Abstract

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) comprise a range of technology products and activities that enable the recording, storage, processing and retrieval, transmission, and reception of information. These products include computers, basic telecommunications services, e-mail, satellite communications, microelectronics, and the Internet. Arguably, these products and activities have found pervasive “functional inclusion” in virtually all sectors of any economy. Their use can help improve the quality of life for citizens, especially in the health, education environment, and agriculture sectors (Mansell & Wehn, 1998). IDEA (2000) asserts that ICTs and the phenomenal growth of the Internet also create new opportunities and challenges for the process of widening and deepening the process of good governance. For example, electronic communications through the use of ICTs offers the potential for greatly enhancing the transparency, efficiency and ease for sustainability of good democratic governance (IDEA, 2000). It is apparent that though ICTs have emerged as the major engine of economic growth and international competitiveness in certain developing countries (mostly in Southeast Asia) and some of the larger developed economies, applications and developments of these technologies, however, are still at a minimal level, starting to make very small beginnings in African countries. Although there are some noticeable applications of ICTs to governance in some African countries, most of the countries are yet to grasp the underlying dynamics of ICT contribution to economic development. Of particular concern are those countries that lack the technology capacity and legal policy frameworks. The implications and importance of ICTs in different countries, thus, vary considerably in complexity, and this can be argued to be a function of the national level of technological capabilities (NLTC) available, as well as the governance regimes to guide and coordinate the efficient use of ICTs (Oyeyinka, 1997). Many of the less-developing countries (LDCs), especially in Africa, were by-passed in the earlier technological development train … largely as a result of the historical antecedent of lack of assets and technological capabilities and good governance. Rather than being further left behind, these countries have started to appreciate the fact that ICTs can present opportunities to allow them join in the new economic order, and help reduce some of the technological gap between the developed and less-developed economies (Dzidonu, 2001). Much research would seem to have gone into understanding the component of NLTC with very little done on the governance component. This article attempts to consider the application of ICTs in governance in Africa.

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