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Hanns-Seidel Foundation HSF

Research and dialogue project: African Governance in the Digital Age

The Tayarisha Centre at the Wits School of Governance and the Hans Seidel Foundation have partnered on a research project that aims to deepen our understanding of the effects of digitalisation on state-society relations in Africa.

Since the mid-2000s, digitalisation has raised hopes of imminent political, economic, and social transformation in Africa.

Almost two decades later, techno-optimism is increasingly giving way to techno-pessimism. African governments have generally been unable to capitalise on the digital revolution, leaving it to the market and the private sector. Meanwhile, the leaders of some of Africa’s authoritarian regimes have successfully stunted the transformative potential of technology through restrictive legislation, ‘troll farms’, and Internet shutdowns. What was once thought of as ‘liberation technology’ is now being used to maintain the status quo.

Or is it? Are the techno-pessimists overlooking progress under the surface? Have the tectonic plates shifted, and will digital transformation eventually force through a recalibration of state-society relations in Africa?

African Governance in the Digital Age research project sets out to:

  • Commission as series of working papers on the effects of technology and digitalisation on state-society relations in Africa;
  • Curate a series of dialogues with key stakeholders to critically engage with the working papers;
  • Develop and conduct a creative communication campaign to enable wider societal participation and awareness; and
  • Form a compendium volume of the working papers which can be released as an edited volume (a book or journal special issue) targeting key stakeholders and influencers.

More information

For more information about the project and its activities, please contact:

Call for papers