Russell Southwood
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Sprinkling on the magic dust
Digital’s impact on development (1982–2020)
in Africa 2.0
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This chapter looks at how communications became the ‘magic dust’ for development; the assumptions underpinning what its transformative effects might be; the debate over its appropriateness and cost-effectiveness; the shift from information communication technology for development (ICT4D) to mobile for development (M4D); the transition to a wider palette of technologies; and the long challenges to ICT4D in Africa: education and agriculture. The chapter opens with a description of how one of the world’s largest refugee camps (Dadaab) was connected to mobile voice and internet communications, and some of the changes it brought about, some transformative and others within the boundaries of existing cultures. The opening snapshot illustrates two themes of the chapter. Firstly, how development agencies’ operating costs and efficiencies can often be improved by using the same technologies used elsewhere, not least by connecting camps to fibre networks and delivering aid money directly to refugees by mobile money. Secondly, how development agencies use technologies and their use, or lack of use, by ‘beneficiaries’.

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Africa 2.0

Inside a continent’s communications revolution


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