Development or Distraction: Gillwald questions 4IR at AfriSIG

On the 23rd of November 2020, RIA in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Information Society Division of the African Union Commission (AUC) convened the 8th Annual African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG).

The goal of AfriSIG is to develop a pipeline of leading Africans from diverse sectors, backgrounds and ages with the skills to participate in local and international internet governance structures and shape the future of the internet landscape for Africa’s development. Through AfriSIG’s partnership with the AUC, trainers trained as part of the AUC’s Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA) programme were invited to participate in the event. PRIDA is a joint initiative of the African Union (AU), the European Union and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which, among other objectives, aims at building the capacities of AU Member States in the Internet Governance space. 

Since its inception, which was inspired by the European Summer School on Internet Governance (EuroSSIG), AfriSIG has significantly contributed to the expertise in internet governance on the continent.

The first session of AfriSIG 2020 examined the 4th industrial revolution (4IR). In her presentation, RIA’s Executive Director, Alison Gillwald, questioned whether the 4IR provides a renewed focus on ICT for development or whether it is a distraction, arguing that there’s “been a disconcerting lack of critical engagement with the concept intellectually, politically and particularly from a policy perspective.”

Meanwhile “international donor agencies and governments are diverting public funding from pro-poor policy research agendas on digital inclusion to artificial intelligence as well as robotics, machine learning, drones and blockchain,” she cautioned.

For more on Gillwald’s input, visit the AfriSIG website.