Grey Hair, Grey Matter, and ICT Policy in the Global South: The Ghana Case

Grey Hair, Grey Matter, and ICT Policy in the Global South: The Ghana Case

Lloyd G. A. Amoah
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1909-8.ch015
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By exploring the case of Ghana, this chapter examines the often cited linkages between good governance, ICTs, and development in developing societies. Though some significant ICT-related infrastructural development projects have been undertaken in Africa, the empirics indicate that the region, compared to other regions, such as Asia, has yet to experience the expected results. Using an e-government project at the presidency in Ghana as a case study, this chapter attempts to understand why the vast potential benefits of ICTs have not been realized in countries like Ghana. The argument put forward by the author is that e-government and by extension ICT policy outcomes in developing polities must be understood as partly a reflection of the world view of policy elites, which is at best generally antagonistic, ambivalent, and even apprehensive of the very notion of a cyber society. The chapter concludes with recommendations relevant to Ghana and other developing polities.
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Africa, E-Government, And The Digital Age

The 1980s in Africa were generally marked by economic and social malaise in most of the countries on the continent. This generalized state of socio-economic crises in the 1980s in Africa has been attributed in part to the primary commodity and oil price shocks of the 1960s and 1970s respectively and the ensuing debt crises (Aryeetey, 1996; Nafziger, 2006). Africa’s policy and political elites seemed to have responded to these crises by turning to the Bretton Woods institutions and signing onto the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) of this International Financial Organization (IFIs). African countries, which adopted the SAPs, had to adhere to strict conditionalities, which were initially economic in nature but later on in the 1990s assumed a political character. Kahler (1992) describes conditionalities as “an exchange of policy changes for external financing” (p. 89). Meeting these conditionalities became a quid pro quo for the loans, grants, and technical assistance that these institutions offered (Amoah, 2005; Killick, 1984; Zormelo, 1996). It must be added that arguably the emergence of conservative governments in Europe and America (Thatcher government in the United Kingdom in 1979 and the Reagan Administration in 1980), the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 provided the geo-political space for the triumphant march of the essentially neo-liberal ideas of government and economic policy formation in developing countries.

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