Development of Mass Media in Modern Africa: New Opportunities, Old Limitations

Convener: Dr. Veronica Usacheva (Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia); e-mails:,

From the first years of independence the African states faced to different complications in receiving, spreading and creating of information products on internal, external and international news. As a rule, African states inherited social infrastructure oriented on metropolitan countries, especially mass media. As a result, African countries during the 20th century were not competent participant of informational interaction; often play the role of object of research or consumer of information. After independence the task of development of informational infrastructure was the most vital for many African countries. Globalization of information environment can be characterized not only by ‘internalization’ of media, when flows of information from different sources grow up multifold and their influence become wider than states’ boundaries, but also by extremely asymmetrical flow of communication gadgets and cultural products between
developed countries and the ‘rest of the world’. As a rule it is not only commercial exchange, but rather a part of a complex process dominated by ideologies of developed countries. The most radical critics of ‘Western influence’ argue that global media and commercial expansion, facilitated by liberalization and privatization of media systems worldwide and the developed cable and satellite technologies, have reduced African ‘states’ ability to exercise power and maintain full sovereignty. Adoption of new technologies, development of mobile internet and mobile connection, combined with social media leads to qualitative change of situation in Africa. Social media have already changed communication space in the world and introduced new modes of influence. The panel will cover the questions of mass media systems development in African countries as well as the role of mass media (old conventional and new social media) in economic, political and cultural development of African continent and encourages papers that deal with the following issues: the role of media in post-colonial and post-conflict societies;

whether or not 'alternative' media can provide the democratization and development, their influence on political consciousness; mass media as a supporter of stability and initiator of changes, authoritarian regimes and democratic reforms, etc.