Africa Digital Futures

In a fast-paced world where connectivity and access to digital tools and services are a constant reminder of growth and opportunity for millions of people, this does not exist without downsides; many which include the misuse of data and digital services and technologies at the expense of millions of people now and in the future. Questions around collective intelligence, personal safety, distributed labour, cultural production, emergent identities and shadow institutions stood out as crucial while thinking about these issues. Determining what the next generation aspires to and wants for the future of data governance, data protection and privacy across Africa offers a good starting point.

Thus, NGFP Practice in collaboration with the Omidyar Network sought to explore the future of data governance in Africa. SOIF through the Next Generation Foresight Practitioners (NGFP) Network brought together 22 members from the NGFP African Network alongside 10 leading African researchers and futurists, a studio of designers, developers and performers in Nigeria, and the School of International Futures (SOIF) on an exploration journey on the future of desirable and healthy digital futures in Africa.

Convened in March 2021, three cohorts centred in Kenya, Nigeria and Pan African contexts developed visions and artefacts for African Digital Futures in their communities using a group futures process that involved a combination of different futures techniques and methodologies. 

These visions were not just guided by what is happening in the world today and how the world might change in the future, but also by metaphors from languages, folk stories, film, music, and memes that offer alternative ways of thinking, seeing and being.  

The values embedded in these visions hold wide-ranging implications for how data is collected, stored, tracked, shared and valued by individuals, communities, governments and businesses. They call on policymakers and technologists to stretch their focus beyond questions of personal privacy and identity and consider collective data and intelligence as a public good used to inform better decision making and benefit the communities who generate it.

The visions demand new models of technology investment, development and regulation that are by and for Africans. They remind investors and funders that Africa has a rich history of innovation, an abundance of young talent and a wealth of ideas to be incubated and developed for the benefit of people and the planet.

We call you to interact with these visions through the African Digital Futures Portal.

About the Africa Digital Futures Portal

The African Digital Futures Portal hosts a collection of eleven explorations of how 22 NGFP members see the future of digital in Africa. They are visions of the aspirations, challenges, values and ambitions of the young African continent. These visions are presented in imaginative audio, visual and text formats on the portal. 

The visions are available for the public through the African Digital Futures Portal launched in October 2021. They are a guiding beacon to plausible digital futures in Africa and can be used in many different ways and by different audiences and stakeholders to inform policy, investments and consumer behaviour to disrupt the conversations in the continent.