You can now register for our international conference, which takes place on September 26 and 27 in Tübingen, Germany. At the conference, scholars and practitioners from Africa and Europe will discuss ethical questions of digitalisation in Africa by sharing their perspectives on technology, development, and justice
Digitalisation in Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Technology, Development, and Justice
Corporate actors, civil society and government stakeholders are increasingly implementing information and communication technologies (ICT) in the Global South, purportedly to improve the quality of life and well-being of individuals in less connected regions. Sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as such an “under-connected” world region and has become a major focus of technology-based development initiatives. Examples range from free access to specific content on the internet (“zero-rating”) to e-health, e-education, e-government and e-agriculture programmes, as well as mobile banking applications and ICT infrastructure such as drones or white space technology. With growing activity in the fields of digitalisation and ICT for development (ICT4D) in Africa, critical questions have to be raised: What are the motivations behind ICT export and digitalisation programmes? How are technologies used, who is excluded from ICT use and why? Bearing in mind that technologies are not neutral but have certain values inscribed in them, how are digital technologies designed, and what impact does this have on individual opportunities for action as well as societal futures? In which ways do ICT change (moral) norms of action, cultural traditions and the distribution of power? Does the export of ICT by Western companies and development programmes have “neo-colonial” effects? Other relevant topics concern local content, gender dynamics, and the values of privacy and access to information.
The goal of the conference is to connect scholars and practitioners working on topics relating to digitalisation in Africa and the wider Global South, the use of ICT for development (ICT4D), and its ethical implications. We wish to foster an interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange between scholars and practitioners from all continents, and particularly welcome participants from Sub-Saharan Africa. At the conference, we wish to discuss questions about the practice of digitalisation in Africa and its (ethical) implications for human development, questions about the value-ladenness of ICT and its potential influence on individual users and societies, as well as questions of global justice.