The digital revolution experienced by the global South
This page is an official PhD thesis on line edition.
The content of this work is multilingual and will be differentiated in English or in French according to the research fields.
PhD student : Lionel Scheepmans
Discipline : Social and cultural anthropology
Thesis promoter : Olivier Servais.
Members of the accompanying board : Pierre-Joseph Laurent, Christophe Lazaro, Emmanuel Wathelet.
Institution : Université catholique de Louvain.
- 1 Presentation of the PhD student
- 2 Thesis project
- 3 Exploratory phase in Ghana from 1st to 20th September 2017
- 4 Visa application and bureaucracy
- 5 Fly connexion
- 6 Contacts in Ghana
- 7 Activity planing
- 8 Hosting
- 9 Budget
- 10 Planing table
Presentation of the PhD student
- Bachelor in socio-anthropology.
- Master in anthropology.
- University Certificate in Economic and Social Ethics.
- Forestry and agroforestry adviser in Guinea Conakry from December 1992 to December 1994 ().
- Cartographer at the National Geographical Institute of Belgium from January 1996 to May 2000.
- Attaché in digital anthropology in Louvain Cooperation.
- Volunteer in the Wikimedia movement since 2011.
- Contributor to the Open Street Map project since 2015.
This research project is a continuation of a series of academic works and an accumulation of experiments on the digitization of knowledge and its diffusion within societies.
In concrete terms, this achievement translates into:
- A first online ethnographic fieldwork carried out in the community of active contributors in the encyclopedia of French-speaking Wikipedia (Master's thesis in anthropology).
- Five years involvement in the Wikimedia movement as a volunteer in online and offline activities.
- Two field visits in the southern hemisphere as an ambassador Wikimedia.
- A year of university studies focused on ethical issues related to the Wikipedia movement and the publication of scientific knowledge (Certificate in economic and social ethics provided by the Hoover Chair).
- A current position of attaché in digital anthropology at the NGO Leuven Cooperation until September 2018.
In the first phase, this doctoral thesis is part of a full-time activity at the NGO Leuven Cooperation. During this time, close collaboration between the NGO and the academic community will be implemented with the aim of establishing a sharing of expertise specific to each institution. Three field visits will be planned in the projects supported by the NGO (Madagascar, Cambodia, Bolivia). These visits will make it possible to facilitate the arrival of the researcher within the local communities and, on the other hand, to make the first research results directly usable by the NGO.
On a wider scale, and still in the field of development cooperation, the issue of digitization is one of the primary concerns of the Belgian Ministry of Cooperation. In this regard, a title of the newspaper AGORIA published in April 2016 clearly states that Mr Alexander De Croo, Minister for Development Cooperation and Digital Agenda, has the ambition "to make digitization a trademark of Belgian Development Cooperation ". To this end, a number of actions have already been taken, such as: the publication of a strategic note , a call for proposals for the launch of a Belgian Digital for Development (D4D) platform , The awarding of prizes to three projects using digitization as a lever for development  and the publication of an issue of Glo.be in September 2016 under the title "A Digital Revolution for the South" . The reading of this journal gives us the opportunity to discover a whole series of issues related to this project doctoral thesis. issues
As the Glo.be magazine illustrates, what some are already calling the "Third Industrial Revolution"  is a source of hope. Indeed, during his reading, we discover a whole series of pleasing testimonies:
- GSM payment systems in Somalia;
- Of optical fiber in Rwanda;
- Intelligent Internet-specific networks in Ethiopia;
- Applications against impunity and schools are connected directly to the government in the DRC;
- Birth registration by SMS in Benin;
- Women from disadvantaged backgrounds who are experts in programming in Peru;
- Evaluative applications in hospitals in Kyrgyzstan;
- Tablets are made by and for the Haitians for the benefit of their schools;
- Fighting food crises and epidemics with the help of mobile operators;
- Support for refugees by telephone contact in different parts of the world
All these projects illustrate concretely some of the apparent benefits of the digital area in the countries of the South. In general, they highlight a remarkable penetration of mobile phones in the southern countries that contrasts with other technologies or mechanisms of change (microfinance, anti-malaria devices, etc.) carried by governments or actors Development. As the magazine Glo.be also points out, the digital revolution has a flip side. On this reversal will appear the Agbogbloshie landfill in Ghana and the 50,000 people who live on it, mines from precious metals to electronics controlled by armed groups, the shadow of the Big Data and its The problems of respect for privacy and anonymity in politically unstable places of the world conducive to the emergence of new genocides, and finally the persistent question of "software freedom" . ] And the ethical problems raised by the use of "proprietary software" pointed out by Richard Stalleman . Another symbolic observation to conclude this paragraph, the Glo.be newspaper of which we have just browsed the titles stops its paper edition. It will only be accessible in digital format, finally ... for those who will have the chance to access the computer equipment needed to read or print it.
So here is the picture. But in the end one has the right to ask oneself who in all this cares about the opinion of the peoples of the South? Who can tell us what these people think of the digital revolution? How do they live it on a daily basis? What are their fears, their expectations, their apprehensions, their hopes, their representations of change? How does all this newness fit into cultural identities and family structures already greatly weakened by globalization?
All these and many more questions will be difficult to answer by development entrepreneurs. In order to answer this question, it is necessary to take the trouble to share the daily life of these populations, to listen to them, to look at them, to observe them, to share their needs and their occupations, and finally to have access to their representations of the world and the revolution In question. All this represents a work for which the anthropologist seems perfectly equipped thanks to the knowledge acquired by the discipline in terms of methodological and theoretical expertise.
Objective of the project in its methodological and theoretical aspects
This doctoral thesis project tries to meet two challenges: on the one hand, to fill a scientific deficit in the field of anthropological publications on a subject not yet widely discussed, on the other hand to propose and test, new methods, New tools, even new theories, with the hope of opening up new perspectives of evolution to this Mike Singleton called prospective anthropology .
From a methodological point of view, this research work will be carried out in a transparent, dialogical and real-time manner. The collection of information, its processing and publication of the research work will be done online and over the water on the Wikiversity platform. In this way, anyone interested in the subject of this research and having an Internet connection will be able to consult the progress of the work at any time and free of charge. Furthermore, in order to guarantee the dialogical aspect of this research, an invitation will be made to the readers and more particularly to the members of the communities concerned by the research to react to the content via the discussion pages annexed to the research pages.
During the first phase of socio-anthropological exploration, a state of the art on the subject of the research will be published as well as a research on the numerical tools of communication and data collection most adapted to the project. During this phase, field visits will be short-lived (two to three weeks). However, these will allow to start a first fieldwork which will be able to continue via different channels of communication over the Internet in order to keep contact with the people met and continue their observation on line. This period of about one year will be the opportunity to take advantage of the teaching offered by Raymond Quivy and Luc Van Campenhoudt in their book titled Manual of Research in Social Sciences . As an intrinsic question of this method, we will choose: "How do the peoples of the South experience the changes implied by the digital revolution? ". In addition to this method of work, we shall also retain the teachings provided by J.-C. Kaufman in his book The Comprehensive Interview  by adapting its recommendations to on-line communication . This first exploratory phase will also be an opportunity to position itself on the question of plurivocity linked to any research work established in a globalized context . Finally, in order to anticipate the subjective component of the anthropologist's work, a position will be made among the four cardinal points of social ethics as proposed in the work of Christian Arnsperger and Philippe Van Parijs .
The second phase of the project will focus on the implementation of ethnographic work as such. During this period, which will cover several years, emphasis will be placed on the participatory observation method (offline and on-line) and conducting comprehensive interviews (offline and on-line). During this second stage, the concern for the collection and analysis of quantitative data will be reduced to the "rigor of qualitative" as taught by de Sardant in his work of the same name . In addition, to amplify the collection of information, we will also use the many analytical devices offered by visual anthropology.
From a theoretical point of view, this research work is fully in line with an anthropology of contemporary worlds as described by Marc Augé . Its development will borrow anthropological concepts as "counter-gift" inherited from Mauss , the notion of "Ideel" introduced by Godelier , or the perspective of an "insecure modernity" described by Pierre-Joseph Laurent . The research on "voluntary servitude" seen by Alain Testar  will also nourish our reflection. We will not hesitate to borrow theories from other disciplines. Sociology, for example, can help us better understand the "logics of exclusion" through the work of Elias and Scotson. Philosophy will help us to sharpen our critical view through key concepts such as Michel Foucault's "panoptism"  or Ivan Illich's "radical monopoly" . Finally, the observation of the digital revolution will not be possible without using the theoretical knowledge related to the new technologies of communication. To do this, the information and communication sciences must also be mobilized according to the circumstances. In summary, this thesis project will adopt a multidisciplinary approach while ensuring that it does not depart from the anthropological discipline for which it will eventually be evaluated for the title of doctor.
This page is dedicated to share informations and organize my first visit in Ghana as exploratory phase of my Phd thesis The digital revolution experienced by the global South.
Welcome to every one to organize with me my Ghana venue on this talking page.
Visa application and bureaucracy
Embassy opening hours
From 1st to 31st August, 2017
Submission of Visa & Passport Applications
10.00 am to 12.00 noon
Collection/Pickup of Passports
1.30 pm to 2.00 pm
Visa application Web page on Ghana Brussels embassy webpageis the only way to submit a visa application to Brussels ambassy. An analogical submission into the office was not possible on Friday August 18th 2017.
The Visa application form, don't work with open source software but only with acrobat reader.
The pdf file ask for a password when it's open with Xreader.
The pdf file open normally with Chrome browser, gaps can be filed, but sending the application is not possible.
On Sunday August 20th acrobat reader was not installable on linux due to a bug.
My only solution was to use friend's computer.
The visa application is supported by a British private limited company named AVLOS LIMITED.
I've receive my visa august 28th 2017. I was one hour late but, after a short discussion and apologize, the women was very nice to give me my passport for not coming back the next day.
A yellow fever certificate is asked for the entrance in Ghana. Since 2005, the certificate is valid for the life.
|Date||Time of arrival||Airport||Airline||Flight Number|
|September 1st||21h25 (9h25 PM)||Accra||TAP||TP1524|
|Date||Time of departure||Airport||Airline||Flight Number|
|September 20th||23h55 (11h55 PM)||Accra||TAP||TP1525|
Price for the return : €469.27
Contacts in Ghana
Open foundation west Africa
In Accra (first week-end and second week)
- Establish contact with Wikimedia, Open street map user groups and other interesting groups involved into the digital revolution in Ghana.
- Spending one week with in an intergenerational family for sharing daily live and observing the digital revolution in urban context.
- Visiting Agbogbloshie and other emblematic places of the dark side of the global digital revolution.
- Blogging Ghana
- New Media Hub
- Recommended media houses (Citi FM, Joy FM)
- GhanaThink Foundation
- Wikimedia Ghana User Group
- Recommended businesses
- Agbogbloshie Scrapyard (e-waste dumpsite)
In village (first week)
Spending one week with in an intergenerational family for sharing daily live and observing the digital revolution in rural context.
- Jisonaayili (Tamale)
Research by Internet
Volunteer groups and associations
In village and other cities
Until now, my PhD thesis is auto-financed. That's why I have to find the cheapest way to carry out this project. Public transport, specially fly connection, will be the principal cost of this first visit of Ghana. For the rest, I didn't need fancy place for living. Just street food and a bed in a safety place. As anthropologist, my target is sharing time with people not making holidays.
|01 th||Friday||Accra||Arrival||Raphael||21h25 (9h25 PM) with the fly n° TP1524|
|02||Saturday||Accra||Meeting with people||Mohammed|
|03||Sunday||Dodi island||Internet activity and Accra visit||Mohammed|
|04||Monday||Yapei Queen ferry||Interview on ferry to Northern Ghana||Ferry||http://ghana-net.com/volta-lake-ferry.html|
|05||Tuesday||Yapei||Interview on ferry||Justice Hotel|
|06||Wednesday||Tamale||Meeting with people||Rafik|
|07||Thursday||Tamale||Exploring country side Digital Revolution||Rafik|
|08||Friday||Zongo Machery||Travel and installation||Clement||http://www.greengoldghana.com/|
|09||Saturday||Zongo Machery||Visiting the village and collect information||Clement|
|10||Sunday||Zongo Machery||Visiting the village and collect information||Clement|
|11||Monday||Zongo Machery||Visit damabai market and testing internet cafe||Clement|
|12||Tuesday||Zongo Machery||Exploring country side Digital Revolution||Clement|
|13||Wednesday||Zongo Machery||Exploring country side Digital Revolution||Clement|
|14||Thursday||Accra||Village and road to Accra||Mohammed|
|15||Friday||Accra||Road to Accra and Mohammed place||Mohammed|
|16||Saturday||Accra||Software Freedom Day 2017||Mohammed||https://www.eventbrite.com/e/software-freedom-day-2017-tickets-36988801501|
|17||Sunday||Aburi||Visit aburi garden||Emmanuel||http://www.aburi.ghana-net.net/|
|18||Monday||Accra||Visit the Impact Hub Accra 12pm till they close at 7pm||Mohammed||http://accra.impacthub.net/|
|19||Tuesday||Accra||Exploring city Digital Revolution||Mohammed|
|20||Wednesday||Accra||Departure||Airplane||23h55 (11h55 PM) fly n° TP1525|