Research ICT Africa (RIA) has over 15 years of consistent experience in research on information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation. Its new Africa Digital Policy Project was developed in response to a call by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for the establishment of regional cyberpolicy think tanks in the Global South. The project builds on RIA’s existing capacity while focusing specifically on cyberpolicy challenges for sub-Saharan Africa.
The project undertook research to influence policy, organisational performance and capacity building initiatives in the field of cyberpolicy. Like RIA’s other work, the project aimed to provide African stakeholders with the information and analysis required to develop innovative and appropriate policies better to address the challenges of sustainable development on the continent. It thereby aimed to facilitate evidence-based and informed policymaking for supporting the development of an Internet that is free (based on and supportive of human rights), trusted (based on sound cybersecurity measures), and innovative (based on enabling policy environments).
While the project had a distinctively African focus, policies pertaining to cyber realms operate not only at national and regional levels but also at a global level of governance. The project therefore promotes interaction between researchers and other stakeholders at national, regional and international levels to harmonise methodologies, tools and standards for conducting cyberpolicy research that is in the interest of a free, open, innovative and secure cyber realm. Among other interactions, the project collaborated with the two other successful IDRC grantees, namely the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in Bangalore, and DIRSI, a Latin American network based at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico. The project also benefited from the synergies of RIA’s strong existing research network of local partners in over 20 African countries together with their sister networks in Asia (LIRNEasia) and Latin America (DIRSI).