Power to the people: Role of electronic media in promoting democracy in Africa

Dana Ott

Abstract


This paper presents an analysis of the role of electronic media in promoting the formation of democratic political regimes in Africa. With the dramatic expansion of various forms of electronic interchange, including electronic mail and the Internet, opportunities for communication across national boundaries, and cross-fertilization of ideas are greater than ever before. This article argues that access to electronic information can have a positive impact in promoting democracy in Africa, by providing civil society with greater leverage vis-à-vis the state and political elites. However, without parallel efforts to insure that access to the Internet is not restricted to urban, elite populations, political instability may result. The paper is structured as follows: Section I makes the theoretical case for the role of increased information access and communication in the promotion of democratic political regimes. Section II presents an overview of the state of electronic access in Africa, including indigenous and international donor supported initiatives to promote African connectivity. Section III presents an empirical analysis of the relationship between access to electronic media and political participation and democratization in Africa. Section IV considers methods to increase usage of electronic media as a tool for increased participation and democratization in Africa.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v3i4.588



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