SAJIC Issue 5, 2004

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    Book Review: Rotting from the Head: Donors and LDC Corruption, edited by Salim Rashid, 2004
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2004-12-15) Mahan, Amy
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    Universal Access Wheel: Towards Achieving Access to ICT in Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2004-12-15) Oyedemi, Toks
    This paper argues against the idea that simply providing access to information and communication technology devices and infrastructures in semi-urban, rural and remote locales has accelerated the universal service and access programme in Africa. In doing this, the paper posits an holistic approach to extending information and communication technology services. This approach takes cognisance of the socio-cultural landscape and also notes that information and communication technology service extension should work in tandem with extension of other social utilities. A universal access wheel is conceptualised, which proposes that various elements should be in place, in order to achieve the goal of universal access, specifically in Africa. The paper revisits the diverse meanings of universal service and access and analyses the importance of providing access to information and communication technology services in developing regions of the world, such as Africa. The universal access wheel does not project totality; rather it provides flexibility and dynamism typical of the information and communication technology sector. Consequently, as other elements and issues arise, they may be added to the wheel.
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    ICT Regulation and Policy at a Crossroads: A Case Study of the Licensing Process in Kenya
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2004-12-15) Kerretts, Monica
    Regulatory reforms in the telecommunications sector in Africa and the rest of the world have been necessitated by the convergence of information and communication technology industries. Given the relative newness of the sector in Africa, information and communication technology implementation problems persist. Research in the sector has tended to attribute implementation problems to technological issues. While not contesting this, this paper contends that information and communication technology implementation in Africa warrants a re-evaluation from the perspective of policy making processes. Drawing on two case studies, this paper critically examines the licensing policy option as documented in the Kenya Communications Act and as implemented by the regulator in Kenya. This analysis is situated within public policy frameworks that highlight the function of domestic institutions and patterns of politics as highly critical filters in policy making, thus influencing actor behaviour and impacting on implementation outcomes in the policy making processes. The findings are that policy making and information and communication technology implementation in Kenya are influenced by institutional/policy arrangements and the contextual forces of ideological, political, social and economic interests. This has significant implications for Kenya, particularly as the study reinforces the call for a critical examination of the policy actors and policy choices that govern information and communication technology regulation and implementation. The study findings also have implications for other African countries, in that the study questions the viability of such policy choices for creating information/knowledge societies in Africa. The analysis in this paper is based on document research and fieldwork, and forms part of a wider study on policy options and implementation processes as enacted through the regulation of the telecommunications sector in Kenya.
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    Changing ICT Rankings of African Nations
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2004-11-15) Kelly, Tim
    After years of being an information and communication technology laggard relative to other developing regions of the world, Africa has been pushed to the forefront in a new information revolution, thanks to mobile communications. This period has also witnessed considerable mobility in the information and communication technology rankings of different African nations. This article examines changes in the information and communication technology rankings of different African nations and concludes that, as an analytical framework, the “digital divide” does not accurately describe what is happening on the continent and may lead to policy choices that are harmful to Africa’s future.
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    ICTs for Development: What Prospects and Problems?
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2004-12-15) Mansell, Robin
    Investing in information and communication technology applications in developing countries is receiving considerable attention in policy debates. This paper reviews evidence of the digital divides that continue to exist, and then critically examines some of the optimistic views about the potential benefits of investment in information and communication technologies. Experiences of firms in several developing countries as they begin to consider and implement business-tobusiness electronic commerce provide a basis for the analysis. The evidence indicates that, while information and communication technology applications are playing a role in supporting the trading activities of firms in developing countries, there are many reasons for the absence of a wholesale shift from conventional trading practices to new forms of electronic commerce – and that these reasons are unlikely to change simply as a result of increased investment in the technologies.