The African continent is home to more than 700 million mobile phone users—and its rate of computer and internet penetration has increased exponentially in the past decade. What are the structural implications of Africa’s current “information revolution?” Africa’s Information Revolution presents an in–depth examination of the development and economic geographies accompanying the rapid diffusion of new ICTs in Sub–Saharan Africa. Based on more than 200 interviews with firms from a manufacturing and service industry in Tanzania and South Africa, the authors integrate concepts from economic geography, political economy, and science and technology studies to explain the impacts and implications of ICT adoption for African economies. Through their critical interrogation of Africa’s industrial development in an age of deeply informationalised capitalism, the authors develop and advance new theoretical concepts—including “neointermediation” and “thin” and “thick” forms of ICT integration. They also reveal that even as ICTs are absorbed into the everyday routines and practices of firms, the benefits of these technologies are being off–set by a simultaneous increase in the power that foreign companies hold over African economies. By balancing in–depth field research with innovative conceptual–theoretical perspectives, Africa’s Information Revolution offers illuminating insights into the relationships between ICTs and Africa′s growing role in the global economy.
1 ICT4D: The Making of a Neoliberalized Meta–discourse (with Bjoern Surborg) 1
2 ICTs and Economic Development in Africa: Theorizing Channels, Assessing Impacts 25
3 ICTs, Industrial Change, and Globalization in Africa: A Conceptual Framework 47
4 ICTs in Action: SMMEs and Industrial Change in South Africa and Tanzania 73
5 ICT Integration, Sociotechnical Regimes, and Global Production Networks 113
6 Downgrading and Differentiation in African SMMEs 147
7 Emerging Regime and GPN Configurations: Neo–intermediation and ICT–enabled Extraversion (with Bjoern Surborg) 176
8 Conclusion 200
James T. Murphy is Associate Professor at Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography. He is co–author of Key Concepts in Economic Geography (2011).
Pádraig Carmody is Associate Professor in Geography at Trinity College Dublin, where he co–directs the TCD–UCD Masters in Development Practice and Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies at the University of Johannesburg. His books include The New Scramble for Africa (2011) and The Rise of the BRICS in Africa (2013).