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Research on ‘Mobile Africa’

Saturday 25 August 2007

Mobile Africa Revisited is a comparative study of the relationship between new communication technologies and social spaces in Chad, Mali, Cameroon and Angola. Langaa RPCIG, the coordinating institution in Africa, partners with the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands in this research project, launched in Bamenda (Cameroon) in August 2007.

African and European researchers investigate the use of ICT, its impact on social structures, and the social shaping of ICT in sub-Saharan Africa. This process should reveal the transformations wrought by new information and communication technologies (ICT), especially mobile phone networks, in social groupings in ‘remote’ and marginalized areas where transport and communications infrastructure is usually more than deficient.

It may be that ICT open up alternative alleys of contact, but they could also close off or redefine other routes and means of interaction. ICT may lead to unforeseen opportunities and shifting hierarchies, while also generating new patterns of exclusion and poverty. Such changes may be especially dramatic in so-called marginal areas, which usually have long histories of trans-local mobility and migration.

An interdisciplinary approach, drawing on history, anthropology, communication technology, media studies, geography, and development studies, is used. The project links different research institutions and also seeks to engage local and international development agencies as well as companies promoting the introduction and consumption of ICT in Africa.

The project will result in academic publications such as PhD dissertations, edited books, and articles, as well as a film. It is hoped that reports and policy documents contribute to the ongoing discussion and reassessment of the role of ICT in development.

This research is funded by WOTRO, which is the science division within the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which division supports scientific research on development issues, in particular poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

See online: For more information see: WOTRO Proposal