Africa in the Age of a Global Network Society: The Challenges Ahead

by Patience Akpan

Abstract

This paper considers the discourse that links African development with new information and communication technologies (ICTs). It begins with an examination of classical modernization theories of development and communication. It poses the following questions: Are the new ICTs the solution to many of the challenges that face sub-Saharan Africa? What are the immediate and future consequences for the region if these new technologies are ignored? The paper attempts to resolve the tension between the need to be part of the global network society and the urge to provide basic needs for sub-Saharan peoples. It argues that assumptions about the new ICTs and their prospects as instruments of economic development in Africa may be extremely exaggerated.

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Patience Akpan is a journalist, currently studying for a PhD. in Political Science (specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics of developing countries) at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on a case study of Nigeria’s acquisition and use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for socio-economic development.