Access to information promises security in Africa

Mobile access to information is transforming Africa's society (Image: file photo)

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies today released it’s report entitled “Africa’s Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability”, written by Steven Livingston. The report details the changing climate of media freedom on a continent with traditionally insular media, and the report appeals for the further development of mobile applications which can further security and stability in Africa.

The report found that political instability and biased, often-violent suppression of print, radio and television media has been the norm in many of Africa’s states. African governments often use the media to further their own goals, spreading disinformation and furthering politically divisive causes.

The rapid growth of mobile phone use in the African market (65 percent over the past 5 years), and the free access to information via mobile Internet applications have given Africans a chance to put an end to the oppression which has so often prevailed. Newly founded democratic institutions and civil society networks are using the mobile revolution to develop security-monitoring programs, provide information needed for effective health care, create banking services, and provide farmers with market information.

This is creating a climate of transparency, accountability and security.  The key to realizing the positive potential in new technologies in Africa is found in focusing on the human motivations behind them. Policy initiatives, therefore, should focus on encouraging the development of applications that aim to improve human security, accountability, and transparency.

The report calls for the development of initiatives directed toward basic research concerning the political, economic, and security implications of local networks created by mobile telephony and related technologies.

The full report can be accessed through the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and it is available for free.

By Angela Meadon