1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Technology and Society (2000 - 2009)

New Information Technologies and the Democratic Process (Draft)

In this paper, Moussa Paye evaluates the role played by new information and communication technologies (NICTs) in the positive unfolding of the democratic process under way in Senegal. According to the author, the history of Senegal in the last few years demonstrates the continuous progress, in terms of democratization, that certain social forces have managed to achieve through the use of NICTs. The presidential election of March 2000 illustrates the central role that these technologies—mobile telephones and FM radio in partiucular—can play in promoting the transparency and veracity of the electoral process. Despite the enthusiasm that it provokes at the international level, however, one may ask whether the accumulated experiences of the Senegalese situation are applicable to other African societies. The difficulties that arose in the last presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, despite heavy media coverage, show the limitations of NICTs in ensuring the transparency of the electoral process. Another question is whether the democratic process as experienced in Senegal, with the role played by information technology, the Internet and mobile telephony, is irreversible. The answer to this must await the action of the new government, which seems to want to limit freedom of the press, while at the same time using television as a means of vastly enhancing its own image. One wonders whether this new tendency risks compromising the openness begun by the previous regime.

This is the draft English translation of Paye's contribution to the volume Le Sénégal à l'heure de l'information: Technologies et société (edited by Momar-Coumba Diop, Editions Karthala, Paris and UNRISD, Geneva, 2002).

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