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Über dieses Buch

New technologies may have transformed human societies, but not much has been written on how they are impacting people in Africa and other developing regions, in terms of how they use technology to enhance their socioeconomic conditions in everyday life. This book critically examines these issues from theoretical, practical and policy perspectives.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Of all the innovations that have affected human lives in the 21st century, none has been as far-reaching as new technology. This is particularly true for people in the industrialised world. Their lives are affected in one way or another by technology. Whether they are awake or asleep, whether they are at work or at play, whether they are adults or infants, they interact with technology in some way. The infant who plays with toys connects with technology in a different way. As Last Moyo (2009a, p. 122) noted with particular reference to developed countries, new technologies such as computers and mobile phones have a profound impact on ‘how people communicate, vote, buy, trade, learn, date, work or even play’.

Levi Obijiofor

2. New Technologies and the Socioeconomic Development of Africa

There is a growing belief that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) play an important role in the economic growth of nations. However, the extent to which new technologies accelerate the socioeconomic development of developing countries has been debated vigorously in the development literature. While some scholars see a direct relationship between the uptake of new technologies and enhancement of economic development, other scholars express doubts. This has prompted the question: do new technologies trigger economic development? Do countries that fail to introduce and adopt new technologies lag behind the rest of the world?

Levi Obijiofor

3. Public Service Broadcasting for Economic Growth and Language Development

The history of public service broadcasting (PSB) has been dominated by critical questions about its remit, the best funding mechanism to sustain the broadcasting system, the defining elements that distinguish PSB from commercial channels, what its role should be in democratic societies, and latterly its relevance in the age of new technologies in which information is openly available on the Internet. The emergence of the World Wide Web has not eased the debate. Concerns have persisted because of the central role that PSB is believed to play in facilitating deliberative democracy, free expression of diverse views and equal access to information, and in serving as a vehicle for cultural expression and language preservation.

Levi Obijiofor

4. Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights in a New Age

Concerns have persisted about the state of Indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights of Indigenous people in the digital age. Central to the debate is the ownership and preservation of Indigenous knowledge, art, craft and traditional practices, as well as respect for the cultural expressions of Indigenous people. In the age of new technologies, there are reasons why Indigenous people should be concerned about the extent to which information and communication technologies allow them to express themselves without undermining their rights to protect their land rights, art, craft, sacred sites and other traditional cultural practices, including their rights to ownership of their intellectual property. Essentially, globalisation has thrown up a challenge to Indigenous people. On one hand, globalisation has facilitated transformations in technology, aviation, telephony and the World Wide Web that have not only brought together Indigenous people across the world but have also increased the profile and prominence of Indigenous people.

Levi Obijiofor

5. The African Public Sphere in the Electronic Era

In different parts of the world, new technologies serve diverse purposes for different people. They facilitate democracy; they empower the citizens by giving voice to the voiceless; they encourage civil society to contribute to the democratic process; and they assist citizens to hold public officials to account. New technologies encourage the development of a vigorous public sphere in which the citizens engage freely in participatory communication. New technologies contribute to improvements in literacy, help to alleviate poverty and serve as tools for the advancement of environmental sustainability (Iroh, 2006).

Levi Obijiofor

6. Changing Technologies and the Changing Role of Citizens

New technologies are having profound impacts on the way journalism is practised across the world. Technological changes have also challenged traditional forms of journalism, redefining the relationship between professional journalists and citizens. In the digital era, Singer (2006) argues that the free, participatory and democratic appeal of online media has encouraged all types of news, resulting in different kinds of news reporters and different genres of news. One implication of this technological transformation is that ‘Journalists’ hegemony as gatekeepers is threatened by an audience able to actively participate in creating and disseminating news’ (Singer, 2006, p. 268). Before the emergence of new technologies, news was assembled and distributed by professional journalists. Now, that is no longer the case. The outlets for news gathering, production and reporting have broadened to include citizens with computer access, digital cameras, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Access to new technologies has empowered citizens to produce and distribute news. Africa is also experiencing these changes in journalistic practices.

Levi Obijiofor

7. Tradition Versus Modernity in HIV/AIDS Prevention

Since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1981, the global race to halt the spread of the virus has accelerated. There are many reasons to be concerned about the spread of HIV/AIDS. If the global community does not respond to the pandemic, there will be catastrophic consequences for the human race. Healthcare systems will be overwhelmed, economies will be under severe pressure, the labour force will be depleted and the health of future generations will be endangered. When too many people are hospitalised or are compelled to take sick leave to look after their health, human and economic development will be slowed.

Levi Obijiofor

8. Ethnographic Research in ‘Offline’ and Online Worlds

Despite decades of research investigations conducted via ethnographic tools such as participant observations, interviews, focus groups and document analysis, debate has persisted over the usefulness of ethnography as a valid research method. Researchers who hold the position that knowledge can only be obtained through direct examination and testing of phenomena argue that ethnography is methodologically unsound and unreliable because of lack of clarity in the way data are collected and measured. However, other researchers, particularly those who subscribe to qualitative methods of social inquiry, disagree. They suggest that ethnography, as a systematic qualitative method, is as valid as other empirical methods of investigation.

Levi Obijiofor

9. Mobile Phones Transforming Public Communication in Africa

The introduction of mobile phones in Africa is having a profound impact on modes of communication and how people interact. Mobile phones are transforming not only the way African people communicate but also the way they do business, the way teachers and students interrelate and the way news and entertainment are disseminated. Mobile phones have reduced or removed the physical distance between people who reside in rural and remote communities and those who live in cities. Part of the reason why mobile phones have been adopted in Africa is because the technology has many communication benefits. Indeed, mobile phones have filled a niche in people’s lives. This chapter analyses the everyday uses of mobile phones in different contexts by men and women, teenagers and adults, as well as urban and rural residents in Africa and other developing regions of the world. The chapter examines how mobile phones contribute to economic development and the factors that drive the uptake of mobile phones, as well as the various challenges that they have brought to people in Africa.

Levi Obijiofor

Backmatter

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