Organisational profile

Research ICT Africa (RIA) is an African think tank that has operated for over a decade to fill a strategic gap in the development of a sustainable information society and digital economy. It has done so by building the multidisciplinary research capacity needed to inform evidence-based policy and effective regulation Africa. RIA’s dynamic and evolving research agenda examines the uneven distribution of the benefits and harms of the intensifying global processes of digitalisation and datafication.

On this basis, we seek to provide alternative policy and regulatory strategies that produce different outcomes that will address digital inequality in Africa and enable data justice. Through rigorous research and analysis RIA seeks to build an African knowledge base in support of digital equality and data justice, and to monitor and review developments on the continent.

Our public-interest research on the digital economy and society responds to national, regional and continental needs. It provides relevant stakeholders with the information and analysis required to develop flexible and adaptive policies and regulation to deal with an increasingly complex and dynamic digital environment.

RIA contributes to the gathering and analysis of data and indicators to establish a repository of knowledge for furthering research and digital governance and to enable greater African participation in global governance. RIA hosts an African network, which extends across the continent and further collaborates and leverages its activities through national, regional and continental partnerships. 

On the basis of our research and extensive practical policy and regulatory experience, RIA offers technical assistance and advisory services to multilateral agencies, governments and regulatory agencies across the continent. It also offers regulatory executive training and post-graduate education through the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance.

RIA has been commissioned to undertake research, technical assistance and capacity building for multilateral agencies such the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and UNDESA. We have provided technical assistance to the Government of Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa, including Treasury, the Department of Communications, Department of Trade and Industry, the Competition Commission and ICASA.

RIA participates actively in global fora such as the Internet Governance Forum, the UN Secretary General’s Digital Cooperation Roadmap and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.

RIA also enjoys high levels of credibility amongst donors and has established a reputation for excellence, delivery and accountability. We have built enduring relationships with donors including the Canadian International Development Research Council (IDRC), the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Open Society Foundation, Mozzila and the Shuttleworth Foundation.

RIA’s research, which arises from a public interest agenda is made available in the public domain, and individuals and entities from public, private sector and civil society are encouraged to use it for teaching, further research or to enable them to participate more effectively in national, regional and global digital policy formulation and governance.

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