Emergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is expected to boost political development in non-Western societies. This expectation is anchored on the assumptions that ICTs radically alter access to information, dislodge entrenched social cleavages, and unleash new patterns of citizenship and civic engagement. We investigate these assumptions through an empirical assessment of the impact of ICTs on political development in sub-Saharan Africa. We construct a political development index (PDI) based on generally accepted essential elements of democracy. This facilitates our statistical analysis of the relationship between ICT penetration and political development in 48 African countries. The research outcome demonstrates a positive correlation between levels of ICT penetration and that of political development. This correlation is most significant for the telephone (fixed lines and mobile phones). Indeed, the telephone remains the most robust of all individual factors in explaining variations in political development in sub-Saharan Africa.
Keywords: political development index, ICTs and political development, ICTs and sub-Saharan Africa, Telephone and political development
Alozie, N.O. Akpan-Obong, P. and Foster, W. (2010) Politics Calling: Telephone Penetration as Indicator of Political Development in Africa, Anthology of Abstracts of the 3rd International Conference on ICT for Africa, March 25-27, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Baton Rouge, LA: International Center for IT and Development.