ICTs are used by developing countries to facilitate development. In her paper explaining the link between ICT4D and Modernization theory, Kunst (2015), argue that ICT4D brought about the revival of Modernization Theory in the 1990s. Is there a link between ICT4D and Modernization Theory? Some authors argue that there is.
Nederveen Pieterse (2010) noted that, western development efforts after 1945 were aimed to bring economic development. Similarly, development efforts in Ethiopia since 1991 are focused on facilitating economic growth.
The government has spent millions developing the infrastructure for ICTs. However, instead of using the ICTs to facilitate development they use them to silence alternative voices.
Ethiopia is described by the Committee to Protect Journalists as one of the most censored countries in the world. On the other hand, Ethiopia has been a darling of investors and development economists.
The land grabs in Ethiopia show the dark side of south-south co-operation. Western donor agencies has been supporting the government despite repeated call for independent investigation on gross human rights abuses.
Pieterse noted that if development is to be a worthwhile objective of public policy, it could not be reduced to economic growth; rather, a number of other values had to be satisfied, including human rights, cultural liberty, environmental sustainability etc.
I agree with Pieterse. “Culture must be the basis of development”. People should not be evicted from their own lands without consultation or compensation. Human rights has to be respected and environmental sustainability should be considered.
In countries like Ethiopia, bloggers are using new media to peacefully voice their concerns about the lack of democracy and organize virtual campaigns including one calling on the government to respect the constitution.
The government continues to subject journalists and bloggers to persecution including threats, arrests and enforced disappearances. If you are a vocal blogger or an independent journalist you are a terrorist.
The current Prime Minister was recently heard to say “the moment you join a terrorist group you become a blogger“. The reality is that the journalists and the bloggers who are still in prison are well known for their integrity.
The government has blocked social media and internet. Ethiopian Authorities Shut Down Mobile Internet and Major Social Media Sites. The UN says internet cut, arrest of bloggers and mass arrests is not the solution.
What is happening is civil resistance by the public. “Instability”, the typical accusation of dictators against civil resistance was recently used by the government to declare a state of emergency for 6 months.
For the mainstream media, civil resistance may lead to “unrest”, the word the media use to describe any uprising in public. In the case of Ethiopia, the mainstream media is very much casual in its coverage of the human rights abuse.