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Politics & Markets in Digital East Africa and Beyond

Data is a resource that is remaking politics and markets in East Africa and beyond. This project establishes a network of parties interested in the wide range of opportunities and risks that have been created as a result of the use of digital data (and associated trends in artificial intelligence and machine learning) in African contexts.

This generation of digital data is opening up the possibilities for socio-economic, political and cultural transformations on the continent. For instance, new jobs are emerging — not only as data scientists but also as a host of related occupations involving producing, maintaining, and structuring digital data.

Furthermore, decisions with significant public implications — from the targeting of electoral campaign messages to the designing of municipal services — are being made based on new databases of call records, mobile money transactions, and social media engagement.

The opportunity is significant, from improving the quality of government services (such as healthcare and taxation) to the inclusion of women and other previously marginalised groups. But so are the risks, and yet currently our collective knowledge of digital data collection, usage, and marketing too often remains in the realm of anecdote, speculation, and rumour.

Permissive or absent regulatory regimes and a lack of public deliberation mean data economies and politics are unfolding without proper oversight.

The Developing Data? project will host two workshops in 2020, one on the economies of digital data and another on the influence of digital on politics. These will be organised by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Strathmore University’s Centre of Intellectual Property & Information Technology (CIPIT), and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies (CAS).

Please check back soon for more information!

And if you care to be involved, please be in touch: DevelopingData [at] ed.ac.uk

Thanks to the GCRF Digital Innovations for Development in Africa program for supporting this initiative. 

Developing data