2015 Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS), Los Angeles, CA, 25-28 October, 2015
This exploratory empirical study examines the extent of differences in information and communication technology (ICT) utilization among the various countries of Africa. This paper also enhances understanding of factors that impact ICT utilization and the digital divide in African countries. In contrast to previous empirical studies, we include more advanced forms of ICT such as broadband and social media technologies. In our conceptual model of ICT utilization, known as Spatially Aware Technology Utilization Model (SATUM), five dependent variables are posited to be associated with eighteen demographic, socio-economic, education, technology tariff, societal openness, infrastructure, and ICT services competitiveness variables. ICT utilization dependent variables are spatially analyzed to determine patterns of agglomeration or randomness, and regression residuals are tested for the presence of spatial bias. We determine that laws that relate to the use of ICTs is a dominant predictor of all forms of ICT utilization, a novel finding. The effectiveness of a national parliament/congress as a lawmaking institution is significantly associated with modern (broadband) as well as legacy forms (fixed telephones) of ICT. This is consistent with prior literature which emphasizes the role of national governments in Africa in framing ICT sector policies for investment, privatization, deregulation, and providing access in underserved areas. For a smaller sample of nations that excludes high utilization ICT nations of Africa, ICT laws have a somewhat reduced effect for two forms of ICT. However gross national income per capita is determined to a dominant predictor for three ICTs and mobile tariffs is negatively associated with mobile cellular subscribers. The findings are intuitive and mostly well supported by previous literature. Policy implications for African nations are provided.