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APC has been commissioned by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to investigate the potential for the use of ICTs for advancing democracy. The study is intended to look beyond the simple “use” of ICTs (mainly internet and mobile phones) for democracy and are digging deeper to find out how ICTs permeate the different levels of society. Among others, the study assesses how civil societies and citizen-based initiatives participate in the democracy process, and the potential ICTs have to promote democracy in terms of outreach and advocacy. In particular, the study examines three sets of factors that might impact on societies use of ICTs for democracy:
A country-level analysis of the context that considers the factors that shape access to ICTs, including ICT infrastructure, costs of access, skills and capacity to use the technology, ICT policy and policy changes.
Factors that define and shape the democratic culture, including access to civil and political rights and other human rights more broadly (such as access to information, and freedom of expression).
Social-cultural norms and practices. For example, this looks at access to education, the rural-urban divide, and how these shape different social and economic groups’ access to resources and the fruits of democracy. This analysis integrates a gender perspective.
The study is implemented in three countries in East Africa: Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The investigation includes a discussion of the main opportunities and risks of supporting the use of ICTs for the advancement of democracy, as well as what kinds of interventions will be most strategic for advancing democracy and empowerment in these countries.
APC members are also taking part in the study as key respondents. Ending in early 2009, the ICT for democracy study is coordinated by APC’s National ICT policy, and funded by SIDA. Read the full ICT for the enhancement of democracy study.
Image by Matthew used under Creative Commons license.