"The internet space in Africa has always been tied to the apron strings of foreign powers. So, it is considered relevant for African leaders to work out a collective bargaining power. In this sense, African leaders need to rediscover themselves and build an Africa that is independent of foreign interventions."
A new article from Centre Postdoc Research Fellow Dr Emeka Umejei traces the ongoing conflict between the US and China in the sphere of digital technology, focusing on its possible implications on the African continent. Geopolitical tensions have caused a ‘decoupling’ of technology in the region, meaning that individual governments often need to look either to the West or East for their technological needs related to internet administration, maintenance, and infrastructure. The multistakeholder approach of the US is certainly at odds with the cybersovereignty model of China, but what can African leaders do provide a secure and reliable internet for their countries? Umejei’s article is founded on empirical research from a wide variety of stakeholders. His argument suggests that the challenge of the decoupled internet also offers an opportunity for leaders to assert their own digital sovereignty and reduce their reliance on foreign powers.
The themes of this article were explored in-depth in a recent workshop at the Centre entitled, ‘US-China Technology Decoupling and the Future of the Internet in Africa’, which was co-organized and hosted by Dr Umejei. The workshop invited international scholars to weigh in on possible outcomes, focusing on the following leading questions:
- What are the implications of US-China technology decoupling for the internet in Africa?
- What is the implication of China’s Digital Silk Road for internet governance in Africa?
- Will US-China technology decoupling result in the fragmentation of the internet in Africa?
- What are the consequences of a bifurcated internet in Africa-internet shutdowns, a Chinese version of the Internet, an Africancentric internet or US-led internet, Cybersovereignty versus multistakeholder model of internet governance?
- What are the implications of US-China technology decoupling for internet governance norms in Africa?
- What are the implications of US-China technology decoupling for freedom of information and political pluralism in Africa?
- What are the roles of local laws in mediating the geopolitics of the internet in Africa?
- What are the roles of ethnicity/religion/culture in mediating the geopolitics of the internet in Africa?
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