Diplo, a Swiss-Maltese foundation that specialises in capacity building in internet governance and digital policy recently conducted a study on “Sustainable Capacity Building: Internet Governance in Africa” (PDF).
The study was commissioned by the African Union (AU) and is part of the internet governance track of the Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA).
The study addressed the following questions. How is Africa building capacities for internet governance and digital policy? What are its main initiatives? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Africa’s digital capacity building? What are the main opportunities and threats for building internet governance capacities in Africa?
Speaking at the launch of the report, RIA’s Dr Alison Gillwald commended the study for mapping important areas of internet governance, but highlighted an oversight in the conceptual framing of the report. She argued that just trying to get technical fixes on individual and institutional capacity does not create opportunities to address fundamental problems that allow African leadership to rise.
Gillwald called for a political economy analysis within a human rights framing, arguing that this would explain the institutional and human development challenges currently being faced. Including a human rights framing would allow for cross cutting of themes, enabling a more critical assessment of the solutions that are needed.
According to Gillwald, the changing nature of global governance, is increasingly complex and dynamic and very different from the kind of multilateral negotiations done in the past that resulted in the involuntary incorporation of African countries into global frameworks.
She argued that for African voices to be heard on internet governance, would require organic local research, organic local institutions and institutional analysis emerging from different kinds of programs. This still hasn’t happened in African universities that are continuing to offer siloed disciplinary research unable to deal with the complexities of global governance.
Watch Gillwald’s input in the video above.