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 network knowledge economy. It has done so by building the ICT policy and regulatory research capacity needed to inform effective ICT governance in Africa. It hosts an African network which extends across the continent and further collaborates and leverages its activities through national, regional and continental partnerships.
The establishment of the RIA network emanates from the growing demand for data and analysis necessary for the appropriate and visionary policy required to catapult the continent into the information age. With a grant resulting from a global call by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for proposals from think tanks on cyberpolicy, RIA has been able to develop a specialised unit – the African Digital Policy Project.
Through rigorous research and analysis RIA seeks to build an African knowledge base in support of effective ICT policy and regulation, and to monitor and review developments on the continent. The research arising 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 ICT policy formulation and governance. On the basis of this 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 Graduate School of Policy Development and Practise.
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. It has provided technical assistance to the Government of Mauritius, Namibia and South Africa, including Treasury, the Department of Communication, Department of Trade and Industry, the Competition Commission and ICASA.
RIA also enjoys high levels of credibility amongst donors and has built a reputation for excellence, delivery and accountability. It has built enduring relationships with donors including the Canadian International Development Research Council, Department for International Development, Open Society Foundation, Google and the Shuttleworth Foundation.