Data + Markets Landscape Analysis
The economic implications of digital data are fast-evolving. It’s hard to keep track of scholarly and civil society analyses, let alone the news. In preparation for the Data + Markets workshop, the Developing Data? team has curated a landscape analysis. We hope the following resources will be useful in preparing for the workshop and subsequently. Should you have suggestions, please be in touch: DevelopingData [at] ed.ac.uk
1. The Growth of the Data Economy
Digital data is one of the most important contemporary resources. From government and industry to civil society and academia, the digital traces collected from mobile phones and Internet activity are a commodity to be harvested, bought, and sold. Like any market, this has implications for consumer welfare, productive possibilities, and economic inequality. In this section we move past a concern with how development actors can use digital data to explore how data is transforming private enterprise, with implications for employment, competitiveness, and industrial policy. The readings collected offer a number of approaches for understanding the data economy. Starting with a discussion of what sorts of data are being created and captured, they then turn to discussions of the regimes of property, control, and surveillance that constitute data markets. A final batch of readings look at value creation, policies for digital economies, and concerns about equitable growth in data markets.
- Mejias, Ulises A., and Nick Couldry. ‘Datafication’. Internet Policy Review 8, no. 4 (29 November 2019).
- Ndemo, Bitange, and Tim Weiss. Digital Kenya: an Entrepreneurial Revolution in the Making. Palgrave Macmillan 2017.
- World Bank, ‘World Development Report 2021 : Data for Better Lives – Concept Note’. Washington DC: The World Bank, 2020.
- Weber, Steven. ‘Data, Development, and Growth’. Business and Politics, April 2017, 1–27.
- Srinivasan, Janaki, Megan Finn, and Morgan Ames. ‘Information Determinism: The Consequences of the Faith in Information’. The Information Society 33, no. 1 (1 January 2017): 13–22.
- Foster, Christopher, and Shamel Azmeh. ‘Latecomer Economies and National Digital Policy: An Industrial Policy Perspective’. The Journal of Development Studies 0, no. 0 (7 November 2019): 1–16.
- United Nations Conference of Trade and Development, Digital Economy Report 2019: Value creation and capture: Implications for developing countries. (New York: United Nations Publications, 2019).
- Anita Gurumurthy et al. Platform Planet: Development in the Intelligence Economy. IT for Change 2019.
2. Regulating Data
Digital technologies use data in a wide range of sophisticated and rapidly changing ways. As a result, a specific set of challenges have been created for regulators, which is complicated by the fact that different types of digital technology require different regulatory approaches. In East Africa, as elsewhere, governments have been criticised for being slow to respond to these challenges. Much of the region’s data governance comes through a patchwork of international law, constitutional law, tax law, industry specific regulations, and professional standards. Although recently there has been some data-specific legislation, such as Kenya’s Data Protection Act (2019) and Uganda’s Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019), questions remain about the suitability and enforceability of these Acts. This theme looks at how, in addition to adapting to social and political environments, data markets co-evolve with legal frameworks. It also considers debates surrounding the future of the governance of data, in which proposals for substantial re-organisation of regulatory regimes – for example through the creation of data trusts – tend to be met with resistance from companies who own the most valuable data.
- Muhangi, Kenneth. ‘Overview of the Data Protection Regime in Uganda’. Journal of Data Protection & Privacy, 1 July 2019.
- Taylor, Linnet, and Dennis Broeders. ‘In the Name of Development: Power, Profit and the Datafication of the Global South’. Geoforum 64 (1 August 2015): 229–37.
- Mann, Monique, and Tobias Matzner. ‘Challenging Algorithmic Profiling: The Limits of Data Protection and Anti-Discrimination in Responding to Emergent Discrimination’. Big Data & Society 6, no. 2 (1 July 2019).
- Beaumier, Guillaume, et al. ‘Global Regulations for a Digital Economy: Between New and Old Challenges’. Global Policy.
- Amy Kapczynski, “The Law of Informational Capitalism,” Yale Law Journal, 129(5).
- Isaac Rutenberg, Cyber Law in Kenya. Wolters Kluwer, 2019.
- CIPESA, “Challenges and Prospects of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Africa,” CIPESA ICT Policy Brief, July 2018.
- Mulgan, G. and Straub, V., ‘The New Ecosystem of Trust: How data trusts, collaboratives and coops can help govern data for the maximum public benefit’. nesta blog, 21 February 2019.
3. Data & Digital Labour
Behind the apparent invisible workings of the digital economy is human labour, who performs a variety of tasks involving manipulating digital data. We call this digital labour. Driverless cars, search engines, recommendation systems, and the social media content we see on our Facebook/Twitter timeline is made possible by this digital labour. This digital labour can now be sourced from locations that were previously not considered to be a central node in the global information economy, for example, Africa. In the context of high unemployment rates and high informal employment, digital labour has implications for employment, poverty, inequality and development. We approach this from a multidisciplinary angle to explore the growth of digital labour in East Africa and its developmental impacts on workers who are brought into the networks of the global digital economy. Therefore, in this section, we are concerned not just by what kind of digital tasks are being performed to develop/produce digital goods (nature and kind), but also where do these get done (geography), who is performing (kind of labour), for whom and for what purposes (network and power), and what are the impacts of this digital labour in Africa (development).
- Anwar, Mohammad Amir, and Mark Graham. ‘Digital Labour at Economic Margins: African Workers and the Global Information Economy’. Review of African Political Economy 0, no. 0 (20 April 2020): 1–11.
- Irani, Lilly. ‘The Cultural Work of Microwork’. New Media & Society 17, no. 5 (1 May 2015): 720–39.
- Mothobi, Onkokame, Alison Gillwald, and Aude Schoentgen. ‘What Is the State of Microwork in Africa? A View from Seven Countries’. Africa Portal, 28 September 2018.
- Berg, J., Furrer, M., Harmon, E., Rani, U., Silberman, S., 2018. Digital labour platforms and the future of work: Towards decent work in the online world. ILO, Geneva.
- Rani, U., & Furrer, M. (2020). Digital labour platforms and new forms of flexible work in developing countries: Algorithmic management of work and workers. Competition & Change.
- Graham, M. and Anwar, M. A. (2018) Digital Labour, in Ash, Kitchin and Leszczynski (eds) ‘Digital Geographies’, Sage: London.
4. Data + Money
Kenya has been a world-leading market for the use of digital technology in finance, and the earlier growth of M-Pesa has given rise to a variety of other services. Many of these translate digital data into credit scores, using records of digital behavior and relations as evidence of credibility and financial futures. Such lending businesses are now spreading across East Africa, and further afield, but important questions about equity, fairness, and regulation remain. This section looks at how data became a resource for financial services, the politics of digital infrastructures, and regulatory challenges from the merger of telecommunications and finance. In addition to the experience of fintech in Kenya — which has occasioned fears of a consumer debt crisis — we include assessments of financial technology in countries such as China, India, and the United States, showing how the politics of data (its capture, control, and interpretation) reflect developments particular to national contexts and broader transformations in the creation of value, the control of information, and the shaping of economic futures.
- CGAP. ‘The Potential of Digital Data’. https://www.cgap.org/research/publication/potential-digital-data
- Peter Mwencha, Ali Hussein, and Grace Githaiga, “Towards an Inclusive & Sustainable FinTech Ecosystem in Kenya,” KICTANet, December 2019.
- Kevin P. Donovan and Emma Park. ‘Perpetual Debt in the Silicon Savannah’. Boston Review, August 2019.
- Anton Didenko, “Regulatory Challenges Underlying FinTech in Kenya and South Africa,” BIICL, December 2017.
- Shazeda Ahmed, “The Messy Truth about Social Credit,” Logic Magazine April 2019.
- Mehrsa Baradaran, Jim Crow Credit, 9 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 887 (2019).
- Qureshi, Sajda. ‘Why Data Matters for Development? Exploring Data Justice, Micro-Entrepreneurship, Mobile Money and Financial Inclusion’. Information Technology for Development 26, no. 2 (2 April 2020): 201–13.
5. Digital Identification, Surveillance & Privacy
Low and middle income countries are rolling out sophisticated digital ID systems for population management, surveillance, and public services. In some cases, these incorporate existing sources of data, such as registration systems managed by mobile network operators. Digital ID policies are also consolidating previous population management systems such as criminal databases, voter rolls, and in the process increasing government’s surveillance power. The systems are also universalising and normalising surveillance of sectors of the population previously not targeted, for example children. This theme explores the drivers, politics, and struggles around digital identity.
- Srinivasan, Janaki, Savita Bailur, Emrys Schoemaker, and Sarita Seshagiri. ‘Privacy at the Margins: The Poverty of Privacy: Understanding Privacy Trade-Offs From Identity Infrastructure Users in India’. International Journal of Communication 12, no. 0 (1 March 2018): 20.
- KICTANet, ‘Policy Concerns on Digital Identification: Workshop Report,” May 2019.
- Keren Weitzberg, “Biometrics, Race Making, and White Exceptionalism: The Controversy Over Universal Fingerprinting in Kenya,” Journal of African History 61(1): 23-43.
- Nubian Rights Forum & 2 others v Attorney General & 6 others; Child Welfare Society & 9 others (Interested Parties) 
- Alan Gelb, Alan H, and Anna Diofasi Metz. Identification Revolution: Can Digital ID Be Harnessed for Development? Center for Global Development, 2018.
- Ruth Prince. ‘A Politics of Numbers? Digital Registration in Kenya’s Experiments with Universal Health Coverage’. Somatosphere (blog), 4 May 2020.
6. Equity & Inclusion in Data Economies
What is the relationship between entrepreneurship, investment, and inequality? How do dynamic markets reproduce, exacerbate, or undermine gendered and racial inequalities? Does finance see in colour? These are lively questions across Africa’s data economy, with recent debates about ‘white fronting’ and expatriate management bringing complex issues of financial and social capital, technical acumen, and historical legacies together. The readings here aim to provide some context and empirical evidence to sustain a thoughtful, productive engagement with how to create inclusive & equitable data economies.
- Friederici, Nicolas, Michel Wahome, and Mark Graham. Digital Entrepreneurship in Africa: How a Continent Is Escaping Silicon Valley’s Long Shadow. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2020.
- Mureithi, Muriuki. ‘The Internet Journey for Kenya: The Interplay of Disruptive Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Fueling Rapid Growth’. In Digital Kenya: An Entrepreneurial Revolution in the Making, edited by Bitange Ndemo and Tim Weiss, 27–53. Palgrave Studies of Entrepreneurship in Africa. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017.
- Madowo, Larry. ‘Silicon Valley Has Deep Pockets for African Startups – If You’re Not African’. The Guardian, 17 July 2020, sec. Business. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/17/african-businesses-black-entrepreneurs-us-investors.
- AVCA. ‘Venture Capital in Africa: Mapping Africa Start-Up Investment Landscape’. Accessed 4 August 2020. https://www.avca-africa.org/research-publications/data-reports/venture-capital-in-africa-mapping-africa-start-up-investment-landscape/.
- Ngoasong, Michael Zisuh. ‘Digital Entrepreneurship in a Resource-Scarce Context’. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 2018.
- Huang, Julia. To Be an Entrepreneur: Social Enterprise and Disruptive Development in Bangladesh. Cornell University Press, 2020.