Africa is on the cusp of a technological revolution. Data networks are snaking across the continent, 5G is increasingly commercially available, and governments are signing deals with foreign multinationals for smart city projects.
These advances have the potential to transform life on the continent. They could facilitate a flowering of new cultural expression, boost trade between African countries and streamline responses to some of Africa’s most pressing issues, including climate change, migration and industrialisation.
Increased and improved technology infrastructure also has the potential to improve communications between governments and citizens, as well as make governance more responsive, transparent and people-centred. However, in recent years, many governments in Africa (and worldwide) have used technology to monitor citizen activity, spread propaganda and misinformation, silence dissidents and cut off access to social media during elections and protests.
The past few months of working and studying from home have also emphasised the ‘digital divide’ between the haves and have-nots. Having a smartphone, a laptop, and a high-speed internet connection opens up a vast realm of possibilities. But lacking just one of these makes working, studying and having a social life under quarantine increasingly challenging.
SAIIA is putting these issues at the centre of a new webinar series called ‘Tech in Africa’. The first of these will feature presentations of upcoming papers on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and digital inclusivity on the continent.
Moderator: Yarik Turianskyi, Deputy Head of the African Governance and Diplomacy Programme at SAIIA
- Presentation 1: ‘Africa’s ICT infrastructure: its present and prospects’, by Terence Corrigan, Project Manager at the Institute of Race Relations
- Presentation 2: ‘Technology for Development and Inclusion in Africa’ by Richard Gevers and Sophie McManus, Founder and Head of Research at the Open Cities Lab respectively.
- Question-and-answer session