The right to development and internet shutdowns: Assessing the role of information and communications technology in democratic development in Africa
Nyokabi, Deborah Mburu
Ntesang, Nozizwe W.
White, Thomas Kagiso
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The right to development is generally assessed as an all-inclusive right. It is regarded as a rallying right in which all other rights are mostly realised. The progressive nature of the right to development in realising other rights as a benchmark to a society’s development has become popular even beyond legal jurisprudence to include other qualitative fields of knowledge. The role played by information and communications technology in the realisation of this right has also been acknowledged, particularly in the digital age. However, this progress has not been even across regions in the world. While some regions have experienced a fast-paced development due to ICT, several countries in Africa have been held back due to unfavourable state and non-state policies that have had negative impacts on human rights and democratic development on the continent. This article assesses the impact of ICT on the right to development, particularly as a rallying right, and the way in which the internet, a major component of ICT, has affected the right. The article especially considers the effects of network disruptions on human rights and democratic development that have become rife in the region. This study finds that there have been several human rights violations through ICT by many state and non-state actors in Africa. Most importantly, the article finds that these violations impede the right to development and pose threats to democratic development in the region. A conclusion is based on these findings and proffers feasible solutions to resolve the challenges posed by these violations. Key words: right to development; Africa; information and communication technology; digital age; internet shutdowns; democratic development