Industrial transformation or business as usual? Information and communication technologies and Africa's place in the global information economy
Many view information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones, computers and the Internet as tools that can significantly strengthen the quality and depth of Africa's engagement with the world economy. This paper interrogates the impacts of Africa's burgeoning ICT 'revolution' through an examination of their use among small, medium and micro-scale enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa's and Tanzania's wood products and tourism sectors. The findings reveal that while new ICTs are being adopted rapidly, they are generally used for communication purposes, not deeper forms of information processing and management. This 'thintegration', while positive in many ways, has done little to stop a trend towards the devaluation of the goods and services provided by the SMMEs surveyed here. Moreover, ICTs are enabling new forms of outside intervention and intermediation into African markets, often further marginalising local firms and industries. The article details these outcomes and demonstrates why 'thicker' and more transformative kinds of ICT integration will remain elusive in the absence of changes to non-ICT-specific structures and power relations that limit Africa's ability to participate in the global information economy. © 2014 © 2014 ROAPE Publications Ltd.
Review of African Political Economy
Murphy, James T.; Carmody, Pádraig; and Surborg, Björn, "Industrial transformation or business as usual? Information and communication technologies and Africa's place in the global information economy" (2014). Geography. 402.