African information revolution: a balance sheet

Telecommunications Policy, 2003

This paper provides a policy and institutional framework to describe and analyze the diffusion of information technology and the global information revolution (IR) in Sub-Saharan Africa and the major factors that influence this diffusion. We begin by examining regional diffusion and find substantial crossnational diffusion differences across the continent, with considerable variation in regional diffusion of telephone, internet, radio, and television. This pattern undermines technologic and economic explanations as sole determinants of variation in diffusion. Then we conduct an analysis of the IR in Sub-Saharan Africa based on a policy framework. This framework identifies four key policy balances (1. public and private initiatives, 2. monopoly and competition ‘‘markets’’, 3. domestic and foreign ownership or control, and 4. centralized and de-centralized administrative controls) as important elements to a better understanding of the diffusion of the IR. We find that a necessary condition for an explanation of the diffusion of the IR is a policy and institutional framework that incorporates these four balances. Read More »