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Digital politics: internet and democracy in Africa

Digital politics: internet and democracy in Africa PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between internet use and democracy in Africa. It examines the non-linearities and causality between the two variables in the short and long run for 38 countries in Africa.Design/methodology/approachThe study is empirical. It uses pooled mean group and causality tests for the sample of 38 African countries.FindingsThe panel long-run and short-run estimates show evidence of significant non-linear relationship between internet usage and democracy. While internet usage is significantly and negatively related to democracy, squared internet usage is significantly but positively related. This suggests that internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy, but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase. Additionally, there is uni-directional causality from internet usage to democracy. However, a bi-directional causality exists between squared internet usage and democracy.Research limitations/implicationsThe empirical evidence from this study suggests that internet usage and democracy are highly interrelated to each other in Africa. The findings support that at the macro level, Africa is moving toward a new stage, where internet will lead to improved levels of democracy and digital politics.Practical implicationsRemarkably, the paper shows that democracy displays a quadratic relationship with internet usage. As a whole, the findings indicate a U-shaped pattern: democracy decreases with internet usage, stabilizes, and then increases. In other words, internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy, but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase.Social implicationsMany African Governments that have frequently imposed restrictions on internet and social media need to stop. The decline in democracy as internet usage increases may be explained by more severity of these restrictions. However, the findings support that at the macro level, Africa is moving toward a new stage, where internet will lead to improved levels of democracy and digital politics.Originality/valueContrary to previous conceptual papers, the current study empirically investigates the causality between internet and democracy in 38 African countries. The findings indicate a U-shaped pattern: democracy decreases with internet usage, stabilizes, and then increases. In other words, internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Economic Studies Emerald Publishing

Digital politics: internet and democracy in Africa

Journal of Economic Studies , Volume 46 (1): 23 – Jan 7, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0144-3585
DOI
10.1108/JES-08-2017-0234
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between internet use and democracy in Africa. It examines the non-linearities and causality between the two variables in the short and long run for 38 countries in Africa.Design/methodology/approachThe study is empirical. It uses pooled mean group and causality tests for the sample of 38 African countries.FindingsThe panel long-run and short-run estimates show evidence of significant non-linear relationship between internet usage and democracy. While internet usage is significantly and negatively related to democracy, squared internet usage is significantly but positively related. This suggests that internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy, but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase. Additionally, there is uni-directional causality from internet usage to democracy. However, a bi-directional causality exists between squared internet usage and democracy.Research limitations/implicationsThe empirical evidence from this study suggests that internet usage and democracy are highly interrelated to each other in Africa. The findings support that at the macro level, Africa is moving toward a new stage, where internet will lead to improved levels of democracy and digital politics.Practical implicationsRemarkably, the paper shows that democracy displays a quadratic relationship with internet usage. As a whole, the findings indicate a U-shaped pattern: democracy decreases with internet usage, stabilizes, and then increases. In other words, internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy, but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase.Social implicationsMany African Governments that have frequently imposed restrictions on internet and social media need to stop. The decline in democracy as internet usage increases may be explained by more severity of these restrictions. However, the findings support that at the macro level, Africa is moving toward a new stage, where internet will lead to improved levels of democracy and digital politics.Originality/valueContrary to previous conceptual papers, the current study empirically investigates the causality between internet and democracy in 38 African countries. The findings indicate a U-shaped pattern: democracy decreases with internet usage, stabilizes, and then increases. In other words, internet usage increases with the decrease of democracy but after a certain level of internet usage which is the turning point, democracy starts to increase.

Journal

Journal of Economic StudiesEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 7, 2019

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