P079
Innovations in connectivity and social change in Africa: new ways to bridge the urban and rural in historical perspective

Convenors:
Mirjam de Bruijn (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Chair:
Mirjam de Bruijn
Format:
Panels
Location:
NB003
Start time:
30 June, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Linking technologies, such as roads and new ICTs, create possibilities to connect, to relate areas, people and things. This panel explores new connectivities in Africa that will be especially evaluated for their transformational power of the socio-political rural-urban linkages.

Long abstract:

Behind the construction of colonial roads that linked the hinterland to Northwestern Cameroon was the development of the plantation economy. This linking device, the road, has transformed that landscape deeply . Linking technologies, such as roads and today new ICTs, create possibilities to connect, to relate areas, people and things. In doing so they have transformative power. Why such technologies have this impact and what these connectivities do is a field yet to be explored in African studies. The example of M-Pesa in Kenya has shown the innovative possibilities of the African environment to develop linking technologies. The development of new ICTs seems to take a different and faster pace in Africa than in Europe or America. This panel explores new connectivities related to the development of ICTs in different parts in Africa. These connectivities will be especially evaluated in their transformational power of the socio-political rural-urban linkages. Examples are m-health, mobile money, e-politics, e-revolutions, etc.. Publications on these new 'inventions' stress their revolutionary character. In this panel we will nuance this interpretation and deepen the analysis of what kind of connectivities these new mediums create and how and if they have the power to transform. What are the parallels between these new ICTs and old ones, like the road? The comparison between the variable connectivities and technologies will reveal the strength of connectivity as actor in processes of social change.