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African Economies: Simply Connect? Problematizing the Discourse on Connectivity in Logistics and Communication

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In this chapter, we situate the contemporary discourse of connectivity in its historical context, excavating the “living links” (Farmer 2004, 309) that connect the policy past to the policy present. We then engage with the similarities and differences between colonial and early postcolonial discourses of connectivity, as well as the contemporary one, by considering the fields of logistics and communication as two examples that are emblematic of current development efforts under the connectivity paradigm. While acknowledging the progressive and cosmopolitan potential of connectivity, we argue that contemporary discourses of connectivity in the realm of communication and logistics are problematic for their uncritical continuation of the modernist gaze, which manifests itself in an uncritical embracement of “technoliberal boosterism” (Carmody 2012, 12). Against this background, we therefore wish to propose an alternative reading of contemporary connectivity and its underlying materialities, socialities, and spatialities by bringing to the fore three key arguments that signal the problematic nature of connectivity as a blueprint for transforming economies “at the margins”.
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