Digital Debate 2: Is Africa ‘falling prey’ to Data Colonialism?
The extraction of personal data is highly controversial. However, the discussion tends to centre on the OECD countries where the leading tech companies are situated, which pursue business models based on data extraction (GAFAM). In the OECD countries, civil society organisations are at the forefront to denounce and hedge such business practices, advocating for high data protection standards.
The situation in Africa merits equal attention. First, the Global North’s tech companies are operating on a global scale that includes the African continent. Unnoticed elsewhere, social networks have been used in African countries for digital campaigning.
Meanwhile, others have introduced the term “data colonialism” to describe the appalling asymmetry of information that often exists between ICSOs and the communities and governments in the Global South. Thus, it is held that CSOs may collect, use and share data without much benefit coming back to the African countries themselves.
In this situation, Jean-Louis Corréa, a law professor at the Virtual University of Senegal, argued in favour of a new African digital nationalism. For him, the primordial fundamental digital right is “digital sovereignty” of the African states and people. He calls for the construction of universal fundamental digital rights to prevent Cyber colonisation.
Karen Guevara presented an approach that is both, rigorous data and grass-roots driven. Data is collected and managed in the global South for the needs of the stakeholders in the global South.
You can watch the recording of the debate on YouTube:
1 April 2021, 16:00 hrs. CEST
Digital Debates: Event Series
Every month, this event series will provide inspiring discussions for the civil society sector based on the constant change that digitalisation brings to our societies. Each debate will be a call to action for CSOs to take a more active role in shaping our digital future.
Barbara Iverson will moderate each debate. She teaches Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Management at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.