Research & Thesis
ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS
Master in New Media and Digital Culture
University of Amsterdam
Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Geert Lovink
The slow pace of development in several African countries can in many cases be attributed to the failure of governments to rule the country in a way that benefits the entire population. Civilians, who are affected by the actions taken by their leaders, have difficulties in assessing whether they are satisfied and expressing their dissatisfaction when they are not. The lack of accountability that rests on the actions taken by the ruling elite forms the breeding ground for corruption and mismanagement. To prevent the ones engaged in governing the country from using national resources for their own benefit, monitoring of these people is a must. ‘Quis custodiet ipos custodes?’ (Old Latin saying meaning: ‘Who will watch the watchers?’). The answer to this question is: Everybody. Although ICTs will not provide food, clean drinking water, medicine or good roads to people living in poor nations, they can be used to scrutinize the leaders who promise these basic needs. This paper revolves around this reasoning and will look at Ugandan society to identify how ICTs can help civilians to hold governments, NGOs and other organizations, existing to serve the people of Uganda, accountable for the way they handle their responsibilities.
Building on renowned theorists like Douglass North, Paul Collier, Richard Heeks, Dambisa Moyo, Michel Foucault and Jurgen Habermas, this thesis suggests the use of ICTs in facilitating a specific form of activism. Through an analysis of contemporary theories of development in Africa and interesting relationships with political developments during 17th and 18th century Europe, this thesis examines public political debate on radio platforms in Uganda. In search of the boundaries of existing media activism in Uganda, the research concludes that the cutting edge of civic media in Uganda is located in the minds of its participants. A lack of substantial knowledge on key statistics holds back further development towards a public debate which can successfully scrutinize actions taken by the leaders of the country. ICT4Accountability is a concept that revolves around the problem described here and tries to find a solution to overcome the barricade obstructing the development of media driven civic activism in Uganda, without directly challenging the fragile order established in the country.