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Assessing the Potential of ICTs for Participatory Development in Sub-Saharan Africa with Evidence from Urban Togo


As mobile phones are rapidly spreading across Sub-Saharan Africa, scholars and development practitioners are becoming increasingly interested in participatory, information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled initiatives to address the challenges of governance in the region. For such efforts to succeed, ICT interventions need to be custom-tailored to the characteristics of the politically marginalised groups they seek to empower. To advance the generation of the necessary empirical data, we surveyed 1498 respondents in Togo. Findings suggest that sociodemographic factors limiting political participation partially overlap with factors that limit access to ICT and the development of digital skills. Based on these findings, we formulate policy recommendations for the design of ICT-enabled projects that proactively seek to increase the participation of marginalised groups.

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Data collection for this study was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development / Bundesministerium für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ).

We thank the Demographic Research Unit / Unité de Recherche Démographique (URD) of the University of Lomé, Togo, for providing excellent logistic support during data collection under challenging circumstances.

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Correspondence to Jacob Groshek.

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Conflict of Interest

Dr. Anita Breuer declares that she has no conflict of interest. Dr. Jacob Groshek declares that he has no conflict of interest.


This study was not funded by a grant or any agency.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Breuer, A., Groshek, J. Assessing the Potential of ICTs for Participatory Development in Sub-Saharan Africa with Evidence from Urban Togo. Int J Polit Cult Soc 30, 349–368 (2017).

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  • Communication for development
  • ICT diffusion
  • Political participation
  • Sub-Saharan Africa