The diffusion of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the Global South is proceeding at a high speed. Particularly dynamic is the development in Africa, where - according to the World Bank - one third of the adult population has access to ICTs. The fast growing usage of digital media – with innovative applications for mobile phones leading the way -, has a significant impact on the economic, social and political structures of the continent and raise several new questions for media scholars.
So far most of the research has been focusing on ICT usage patterns in western industrial nations, such as the USA and some European countries. The theoretical approaches, which were developed in a western setting to describe and explain usage patterns, cannot be applied to the different and specific economic, political and social conditions in Africa. However, some theories might be applicable in a modified version. The few academic studies on the usage of digital media in Africa do not provide any reliable data that can be compared on an international level, as they mainly consist of practical application and case studies.
The focus of research at the Division Research of Media Use aims to draw a comprehensive picture of the usage of ICT by African citizens. For this purpose several projects, applying both quantitative and qualitative methods, will be carried out. The aim is not only to gain insight into the media usage in this region, but also to enhance the theoretical knowledge of the potential of ICTs for society and of the factors influencing the use of digital media in general.