The After Access 2022 survey is a multi-country research initiative in sub-Saharan Africa that aims to build an evidence base for context-specific policy and regulatory interventions. The survey will be conducted in the first instance in eight African countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The survey builds on a series of information communication technology (ICT) access and use surveys conducted by RIA since 2004 with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). From 2017 to 2019 it was responsible for the African component of the Global South After Access Survey undertaken with partners LIRNEasia and Instituto de Estudos Peruanos (IEP), which the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) co-funded with IDRC.
With the evolving nature of digital inequality in Africa, the purpose of the survey is to understand both the changing barriers to the adoption of dynamic technologies and the emerging after-access challenges that the continent faces.
Besides providing the necessary data for standard digital indicators, the 2022 survey will develop new measurements to better understand the fast-emerging digital and data economy in areas such as digital identification, platform labour, digital financial services, and social networking. It will also look specifically at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access challenges, and consider the extent to which people were able to digitally substitute their access to work, schooling, banking, retail, food and government services during lockdowns over the past two years. This will provide governments with a better understanding of the enablers of and constraints on digital substitution in order to prepare better for similar crises in the future.
Alongside the survey, in the context of persistent gender inequality across the continent, gender-focused ethnographic research will be conducted in four different countries to deepen our understanding of the challenges, opportunities and harms experienced in the region and that are often invisible in quantitative research, not sufficiently nuanced or contextualised. This component will particularly examine trends in the organic use of digital tools, services, and platforms by members of women’s collectives in selected countries.
The very first RIA ICT Access Survey was conducted with the support of the IDRC between 2004 and 2005 in Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania and with the report being published under the policy paper series: Towards an African e-Index.
In 2007 the survey was extended to Francophone countries with a grant from IDRC to include 17 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The country reports and thematic surveys were published under the policy paper series: Towards evidence-based ICT Policy and Regulation in Africa.
In 2012, RIA launched the third round of surveys in 12 countries, namely Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. This round was also supported by the IDRC. The country reports and thematic survey papers were published under the series: Evidence for ICT Policy Action.
The fourth round of the surveys took place between late 2017 and early 2019 as part of the IDRC-SIDA-funded After Access 2018 survey undertaken with LIRNEasia and IEP. The 10 African countries that made up part of the 20 Global South countries surveyed included: Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania, and with the limited countries’ reports commissioned by countries and the grant thematic surveys published as the After Access: Assessing Digital Inequality in Africa policy series.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have provided seed funding for Research ICT Africa to start a new round of the After Access Africa 2022 surveys titled “Digital Data for Africa”. The countries selected are Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The 2022 survey builds on the previous round and will provide the household and individual data necessary to inform the standard digital indicators underlying the Sustainable Development Goals. However, it opens up new areas of measurement required to develop an evidence base for policymakers in the context of the intensifying digitalisation and datafication of the economy and society. This includes gaining demand-side perspectives on digital identification, platform labour, digital financial services, online retail services, and social networking, and the potential harms associated with these, in order to mitigate risk. In the context of the pandemic, the survey also seeks to understand the specific challenges of digital substitution for work, schooling, banking, securing access to food, and access government services, including social grants, business relief, and other forms of social protection. Alongside the survey, RIA will look to better understand the persistent barriers to access faced by marginalised groups, particularly women living at the intersection of other inequalities – class, race, disability, sexual identity, location, and try to identify contextualised points of policy intervention to reduce inequalities and injustice.
(1) What are the factors that preclude people from meaningful digital inclusion?
(2) What opportunities does connectivity offer to whom?
(3) What harms are experienced by people online and how aware are they of their rights and risk mitigation measures?
(3) Does the platform economy contribute to digital inequality, and can it be harnessed for economic inclusion and job creation?
(4) How do intersectional aspects of inequality such as gender, location and socio-economic status impact access and use?
(5) How are digitals tools, platforms and services used organically (i.e. other than how they may be intended for general use), particularly by the poor, people with disabilities, people in the informal sector, women, and people marginalised by virtue of their sexual orientation or identification?
(6) What level of digital substitution is there for work, schooling, banking and retail services, state services and pandemic relief?
The methodology proposed for the project delivers nationally representative and comparable ICT indicators for households, individuals, and informal businesses. Through the survey we will assess ICT policy outcomes in terms of digital access and use against national policy objectives for dynamic, increasingly globalised digital markets. The survey this round will have a particular focus on levels of digital substitution available during the pandemic and associated lockdowns.
The timeline for the survey from end-to-end is three years. We plan to be in the field from the first quarter of 2022, and expect to have finalised all country-level surveys by the end of the year. In 2023 we will develop the country reports. The thematic comparative reports will be finalised in 2024.
|Burkina Faso||Dr Pam Zahonogo, University of Ougo|
|Ethiopia||Bahr Dar University|
|Kenya||Dr Shikoh Gitau, Qhala Limited|
|Senegal||Dr Boubakar Barry|
|South Africa||Jan Schenk, ikapadata|
|Tanzania||Dr Goodiel Moshi, University of Dodoma|
|Uganda||Dr Tusi Tusibira, Knowledge Consulting Ltd|