An extensive literature has demonstrated that technologies in sub-Saharan Africa are largely inappropriate: that is, that they are typically capital- and import-intensive rather than labour- and local input-intensive. These technologies have created a pattern of development that is highly unequal, with widespread unemployment and under-employment. In this literature, however, relatively little attention has been paid to the institutions that govern the generation, adoption and use of technology.
This book draws on historical analysis and case studies to evaluate how institutions in different countries, including those in Africa itself, generate technologies that vary in their characteristics and suitability for the region. Through these case studies, insight is gained into the characteristics of ‘appropriate’ institutions that might underlie a more balanced pattern of technology and development than currently exists. The findings of the book clearly confirm a major tenet of institutionalist theory: namely, that institutions developed in one set of circumstances are unlikely to be appropriate to conditions in a markedly different set.
This book will be of interest to economists, social historians and anyone with an interest in modern African development.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: theories of institutions
PART I Non-digital technologies
2. Scaling up pilot projects in Africa: four cases
3. The changing institutional environment for technology in Africa
4. An institutional critique of measures to compare technological capabilities between rich and poor countries: the case of Africa
PART II Digital technologies
5. Internet use, institutions and well-being: evidence from Africa
6. Institutional and societal innovations in IT for developing countries
7. The macroeconomic consequences of the One Laptop per Child program
8. Sharing mechanisms for IT in developing countries, social capital and quality of life
9. A sequential analysis of the welfare effects of mobile phones in Africa
Jeffrey James has researched and taught in South Africa, England, the USA and the Netherlands. He has written extensively in the area of technology and development, including issues related to emerging digital technologies. Much of his work in this area relates to sub-Saharan Africa.