Bridging the digital divide in Africa via universal service funds: an institutional theory perspective

Arakpogun, Emmanuel Ogiemwonyi and Whalley, Jason and Wanjiru, Roseline and Elsahn, Ziad and Kummitha, Rama Krishna Reddy (2023) Bridging the digital divide in Africa via universal service funds: an institutional theory perspective. Information Technology & People, 36 (8). pp. 126-154. ISSN 0959-3845

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence-based policy recommendations for improving the implementation of universal service funds (USF) with a view to closing the digital divide in Africa. Design/methodology/approach The paper adopts a qualitative approach that draws examples from various African countries supported by 25 interviews from key stakeholders with hands-on experience and roles that shape telecommunications policy in Africa and other developing countries. Findings The study's findings point out that institutional voids which characterize several African countries inhibit the effectiveness of USF in African countries. The authors identify several institutional and organisational factors and explain how they negatively affect the performance of USF. The authors find that in order to overcome these obstacles, there is a need for a clear redefinition of Universal Access and Service (UAS) policies, restructuring the governance of USF, encouraging cross-sectoral collaborations, and bottom-up initiatives to bridge the digital divide in African countries. Originality/value The paper contributes to the underexplored USF literature by shedding light on the role of institutional factors in determining the success of USF. The paper thus complements and provides a different perspective on promoting digital inclusion in Africa from the viewpoint of institutional voids, bringing new insights into the existing literature on how to deal with an intractable area of UAS policy and the wider digital divide debate in developing countries.

Item Type:
Journal Article
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Information Technology & People
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Research Output Funding/no_not_funded
?? no - not fundedlibrary and information sciencesinformation systemscomputer science applications ??
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06 Jun 2024 09:30
Last Modified:
06 Jun 2024 09:30