oa Global Media Journal - African Edition - Using the Internet for democracy : a study of South Africa, Kenya and Zambia
For the first time since democracy in the classical Greek sense became practically impossible, the Internet's networking possibilities are creating opportunities for all citizens to be active engaging participants in democracy. Open communication channels to government and fellow citizens can now be a reality that allows people at all levels of society to form part of a vibrant public sphere by exchanging ideas, sharing experiences, spreading ideologies and news, and comparing agendas. For African countries dealing with unique and increasingly complicated political and socio-economic issues, the Internet provides a platform from which citizens can now address these issues themselves and, in doing so, contribute to a public sphere that strengthens the democratic fibre of their countries.
This research posits that the Internet has significant potential to stimulate democratic culture through public discourse and citizen participation. The focus of this study is on finding evidence-based information about the current influence of information and communication technology (ICT) usage in South Africa, Kenya and Zambia as representatives of sub-Saharan Africa, and with specific focus on Internet usage through computers and mobile phones. The research also investigates the capacity and opportunity citizens have to successfully integrate ICTs into the accomplishment of self and mutually identified political goals in order to strengthen a broader democratic culture.
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