Information Technology and Democratic Participation in Africa WISDOM J. TETTEY ¤ ABSTRACT This paper assesses the nature of political communication and democratic participation in Africa to determine whether these technologies are changing the face of politics on the continent. It ana- lyzes who has access to the forums; topics that are discussed; what in uence these digital forums have on political decision making; and the extent to which they replicate or differ from the affective and emotive manifestations of political interaction in the “real” world. It concludes that a lot more people are getting a lot more information, but that this does not translate into a signi cant expansion in the numbers and categories of those who engage in, and hence in uence, the direction of politics on the continent. Introduction At the beginning of the 1990s, a con uence of internal and external factors produced signi cant conjunctures in the political landscape of Africa. The effects of these developments on democratic politics had not been seen since the early 1960s, when most post-colonial states encountered their rst experiences with constitutional government (see Tettey 2001). Principal among these was a revival of democratic optimism, not only across
Journal of Asian and African Studies (in 2002 continued as African and Asian Studies) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2001
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