By Mitchel Ondili
It’s Africa podcast day and CIPIT would like to shed a spotlight on its podcast, launched late last year, The Friendly Troll.
First things first, why a troll? Why is it friendly? Why another podcast?
The Global South is often seen as an incubator for the Global North to identify and implement their solutions to our perceived problems, but not often as a case study for what the Global North can learn from us. In this vein, a podcast is born. Exploring tech dynamics in the Global South in the context of larger tech developments around the globe.
Our episodes focus on tech problems and tech solutions in an ever growing, ever dynamic digital world viewed through a prism of the Global South.
Our current episodes
Mobile Money Reversal, what can the West Learn
Mobile money has solved access issues in Africa that the west is only seemingly beginning to catch up to. This episode looks at these pitfalls and asks about how to address the issue of mobile money reversal. This is an issue that the West is still grappling with which has been resolved for a while in Africa, though not without its own pitfalls. For instance, while it is possible to reverse erroneous transactions, this is limited to the money still being in the recipients e-wallet, in the absence of which, action outside the mobile money platform will have to be taken.
Digital ID Double edged Sword for the Global South
The recent Huduma number controversy has asked important questions about digital ID, its use and benefits and, the need for it to be properly regulated in order to avoid data mishandling.
Digital ID has been linked to development, being part of SDG 16, targeting ‘legal identity for all, including birth registration’ by 2030. Building a digital identity ecosystem, particularly for developing countries will rely on private sector participants often. Control over digital ID will have to ensure that the data of individuals isn’t exploited.
In Kenya’s case this requires focus on two key areas:
- The regulatory framework – the Data Protection Act was passed in 2019 and recently, a High Court judgement emphasized that the Huduma number exercise must be undertaken within a proper regulatory framework calling for the legislators to take up the role of defining the framework within which digital identity is protected.
- Technological infrastructure – digital ID kits may need to be outsourced and this creates a need for the tech infrastructure to be as homegrown as possible and where the involvement of private sector participants or foreign governments is concerned, a stricter regulatory framework to ensure that at all times, our data is in our control.
Big Tech in the Global South
This episode was a foray into the emerging superpowers in tech, the US and China, and the effect that they have on developing countries. The US remains the dominant technological force on the global stage due to multiple factors of political, economic and military influence and a pervasive identity in the digital space. With that said, China is fast on its heels investing greater amounts into the Global South as part of its Belt and Road initiative which includes a digital Belt and Road.
A dominant part of China’s influence extends to the Global South, in both private sector projects as well as large scale government collaboration. This carries questions of data independence and the effect that the extended influence can have on cybersurveillance efforts.
Tech Giants and Competition Law in the Global South
Competition law (or antitrust as it’s known in the US) has a lot to say about how smaller tech companies can take on the giants. Tracing the origins of antitrust law, the episode looks at the telecommunication corporations in Kenya dominating the ISP space as well and what that might mean for smaller providers. Kenyan law, which is modelled after European competition law, predicates antitrust actions on dominance in the market which may allow mischief on the part of smaller ISPs.
The episode also takes a look into the ways that FACEBOOK is attempting to keep a hold on its market share, Free Basics to be specific and the lessons that Kenya can learn on how to be more wary about who they allow to access their data.