Teledensity Growth Constraints and Strategies for Africa's LDCs: ‘Viagra’ Prescriptions or Sustainable Development Strategy

Over-dependence of Africa’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on the West has been reflected in various socio-economic dimensions.  Such dependence has also been reflected in the telecommunications industry of Africa’s LDCs in their quest to improve their historically low teledensity (number of main telephone lines per one hundred inhabitants).

African LDCs lag other regions of the world in utilizing information and telecommunications technologies.   The resulting digital divide has hitherto left African LDCs far behind other regions of the world in various aspects of economic development. Many technology-oriented constraints account for the low levels of teledensity in Africa.

The fact that the trend should not be allowed to worsen has led to calls for a debate on what strategies can be adopted to turn things around.   Possible options include the following:  (a) self-sufficiency approach by each country, (b) African Regional/Foreign Alliance approach to solve the regional technology-oriented constraints to teledensity, and (c) the ‘viagra’ approach of total and perpetual dependence on the West to come in and apply a band-aid fix to the problem, and leave behind an infrastructure with little or no local expertise to manage it.  In this paper, the term ‘viagra’ is used to imply a quick prescription in a guise of a “solution”.

Using Friedman’s test, factor analysis, and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) statistical procedures, this study examines the perspectives or beliefs of telecommunications stakeholders of Africa’s LDCs on strategies for solving the technology-oriented constraints that have been documented in the literature.  The findings suggest that Africa’s LDCs should adopt a self-sufficiency approach and also create regional alliances for sustainable development of telecommunications infrastructure to spur the much needed teledensity growth in the region.


Mbarika, V., Byrd, T. A., McMullen, P., and Musa, P. (2002). Teledensity Growth Constraints and Strategies for Africa’s LDCs: ‘Viagra’ Prescriptions or Sustainable Development Strategy. Journal of Global Information Technology Management, Vol. 5, # 1.

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