Africa’s Digital Economy
“Ten years ago any conversation about the digital-content sector in Africa would have been short, focusing on the false promises of the Internet, low levels of connectivity, and high charges. The fast-growing wireless sector on the continent has, however, changed the situation dramatically. This is beginning to change as Liquid Telecom has been building a fiber-optic network across landlocked Africa. … Parts of Africa now host one of the most innovative and transformative digital-content and digital-services environments in the world, largely because of low-cost mobile services and the absence of intermediate, global companies. … At the same time, and to the great consternation of governments, the digital revolution has also fomented political unrest and antigovernment actions. The famed Arab Spring that started in 2010, toppling governments, bringing angry crowds into the streets, and sparking civil conflicts, capitalized on the ubiquitous nature of digital communications to overcome traditional and often government-controlled media. African governments, many of which score low by global standards of transparency and democracy, are of mixed minds about digital services and digital content, knowing that the systems can enhance and improve lives and create new jobs and businesses but also realizing that the technology has been extremely effective in sustaining antigovernment unrest.” – Carin Holroyd and Ken Coates, The Global Digital Economy (forthcoming January 2015).
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