This report (conducted as a consultancy for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency by The Association for Progressive Communications) examines the potential of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for advancing democracy and empowerment, with a special focus on Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Access to and the strategic use of ICTs have been shown to have the potential to help bring about economic development, poverty reduction, and democratisation – including freedom of speech, the free flow of information and the promotion of human rights. Based on signs of current democracy deficits in the case study countries, it is crucial that ICTs be made central to development cooperation and to approaches to advance democracy in the three countries.
The report concludes by making a set of recommendations of possible strategies and actions to support democracy efforts in the three countries, though the use of ICTs. Three strategies are proposed as priorities:
• Raising awareness and building understanding of (i) the potential of ICTs, particularly in the context of the vast numbers of people who are now able to connect in some way through mobile phones; (ii) democratic principles and practice; and (iii) the potential of ICTs for advancing democracy.
• Institutional strengthening of CSOs, NGOs and media practitioners to engage critically on issues of democracy as well as institutional strengthening of state actors to enhance transparency and good governance.
• Strengthening community voice in public debate and decisionmaking and in maintaining transparency and accountability by government.
SIDA/APC (2009). PDF.