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Ethics and the Internet in West Africa: Toward an Ethical Model of Integration

Patrick Brunet, Oumarou Tiemtoré, and Marie-Claude Vettraino-Soulard
Africa World Press, IDRC

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The whole world is currently undergoing a period of profound change brought about by the development of the worldwide information and communications network, the Internet, which affects every sphere of social life. This book focuses specifically on ethical questions related to the use of the Internet in West Africa. It examines the manner in which the spread of the Internet in Africa raises serious ethical issues; issues that should be identified to ensure that, in the future, the adaptation and integration of Internet technology will be compatible with the development of Africa's nations.

The research behind this book, carried out by means of field surveys, focuses on five nations in West Africa: two Anglophone – The Gambia and Ghana – and three Francophone – Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal. For each country, a portrait of Internet users’ ethical behaviours was successfully created. The book demonstrates how the Internet, by virtue of its content and how the technology it uses, is creating upheaval in the practices and modes of communication within African communities. The book culminates with a proposed ethical model for the assimilation of the Internet that could serve as a reference for development policies in each of the respective countries and, more broadly, throughout Africa.

The authors

Patrick J. Brunet is a professor and director of the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa. His current research focuses on the ethical and social issues of communication and the new media in Western and African societies.

Oumarou Tiemtoré is an analyst/programmer of computerized management systems and a consultant in the information technology sector. He is president of a software company that specializes in training, office automation, and communications consultancy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Marie-Claude Vettraino-Soulard is a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Université de Paris 7-Denis Diderot, founder and director of the national research seminar “Text, Graphics, Speech, and New Technologies,” and president of the association Telematics Crossroads.