Social Media, ICT, and 2011 Elections in Africa

I’ve been brainstorming lately of a project for my thesis that would combine my interests in technology and politics on the African continent. With last semesters’ research into deregulation of African ICT, I want to focus on something more current. With the current events in North Africa being partially attributed to Twitter, Facebook, and the like, I want to see if Social Media and the ICT that powers it can have any discernible effects on other parts of the continent, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, where there has been no spillover of the democratic movements. Thus with 17 presidential elections happening on the continent south of the Sahara this year in Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Djibouti, The Gambia, Liberia, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe there would seem to be a large sample size  to gather data about ICT and Social Media’s impact on elections. But how to measure this impact? What indicators would I need for ICT and elections? Are these countries a large enough sample size, or should it be expanded to countries where ICT data is more readily available but are having only Parliamentary or Local elections? Or perhaps this should cover 2011 and 2012? With the massive growth of mobile phones on the continent, and more landings of fibre-optic broadband cables, using this connectivity for good governance could be a critical feature of studies on the continent in the coming years. Continue reading

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