Africa 2.0

Inside a continent's communications revolution

By Russell Southwood

Africa 2.0


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5482-8
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £24.99
  • Published Date: July 2022
  • BIC Category: Africa, Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Communication studies, Communications Engineering / Telecommunications, Digital Lifestyle, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Science & Technology Policy, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Technology Studies, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Mobile & Wireless Communications, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / African, International relations, Politics, Business Studies


Africa wired up provides an important history of how two technologies - mobile calling and internet - were made available to millions of Sub-Saharan Africans and the impact they have had on their lives. The book deals with the political challenges of liberalization and privatization that needed to be in place to get these technologies built. It analyses how the mobile phone fundamentally changed communications in Sub-Saharan Africa and the ways Africans have made these technologies part of their lives. It examines critically the technologies' impact on development practices and the key role development actors played in accelerating things like regulatory reform, fibre roll-out and mobile money. The book considers how corruption in the industry is a prism through which patronage relationships in Government can be understood. The arrival of a start-up ecosystem has the potential to break these relationships and offer a new wave of investment opportunities. The author seeks to go beyond the hype to make a provisional assessment of the kinds of changes that have happened over three decades. It examines how and why these technologies became transformative and seem to have opened out a very different future for Sub-Saharan Africa.



Part I Technology diffusion - The spread of mobile calling and internet
1 Mobile voice calling booms
2 Bandwidth as the digital economy's fuel - getting Sub-Saharan Africa connected
3 Cheaper mobile internet and low-cost smartphones come together with apps Sub-Saharan Africans want to use

Part II Technology influences - Uses, behaviours and abuses
4 Mobile money - from transferring cash to a digital payments ecosystem
5 Sub-Saharan Africans start to live the digital life
6 Sprinkling on the magic dust - Digital's impact on development
7 The ugly underbelly of the communications revolutions - corruption, cronyism, regulation and government

Part III Taking the long view - Start-up innovation and complex behaviour change
8 Sub-Saharan African start-ups - getting beyond the hype to address deep market challenges
9 Doing complexity - Making sense of what has happened over 30 years

Appendix A: Glossary
Appendix B: Select bibliography
Appendix C: List of those interviewed


Russell Southwood is the Founder and CEO of the consultancy and research practice, Balancing Act, which has focused on telecoms, internet and media in Sub-Saharan Africa over the last 20 years. He is also the author of Less Walk, More Talk - How Celtel and the Mobile Phone Changed Africa and with Kelly Wong, Building a Data Ecosystem for Food Security and Sustainability, Agtech V3.0.

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