Internet and Africa: What Cyberspace for Tomorrow?

A pupil using a Kio tablet during a class session in Kawangware, Nairobi on October 2015

(Originally published in ID4D)

African countries have never been faced with such decisive choices in the construction of a cyberspace that respects freedoms and meets the needs of their citizens. One of the continent’s main challenges for the future.

The first Internet connections in Africa arrived back in the late 1990s through geostationary satellites. Projects for satellite constellations were also set up during the same decade. At a later stage, submarine cables were installed around the continent, as well as terrestrial backbones. The first cables connecting Europe, Africa and Asia were put in service in 2002. Most recently, projects for drones and balloons have been tested and a number of submarine cables have been laid.

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La défense des libertés et des droits humains sur Internet

Manifestation pour la défense des libertés sur Internet

(Publié à l’origine dans Mediapart)

La défense des libertés et des droits humains sur Internet fait partie des grands défis du cyberespace et décline chaque année. En une décennie, nous sommes passés d’un Internet ouvert et libre à un Internet de plateformes où les géants du numérique défendent les intérêts des actionnaires, les gouvernements autoritaires piétinent les droits humains et des entreprises privées espionnent des politiciens, des activistes et des journalistes.

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The Importance Of Balanced Partnerships To Defend Human Rights And Democracies In Cyberspace

Human Rights And Democracies In Cyberspace

(Originally published in the Counterpart International Blog)

In its early days, the Internet was often described as a Utopian technology in service of promoting and protecting of human rights. It represented a world of freedom that would liberate all knowledge, empower people, and weaken the state by making it more transparent and accountable, leading to the realization of democratization and human rights. Today, digital technologies are omnipresent in our lives. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, drones, self-operating vehicles, and robots can take on tasks ranging from driving support, household help, and companionship of sorts, to policing and warfare.

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The Social Security Data Governance Challenge in Mexico

The Mexican Flag

(Originally published in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs)

Mexico has a long history with social security; the country’s first social security law was enacted in 1943. Today, the social security system is fragmented into several institutions that coexist with each other, but do not operate in an integrated manner. A huge gap exists between lawyers, policymakers, and implementers who should be working together closely to design practical, efficient, and actionable policies.

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The eGovernment Web Development Strategy for Liberia


The e-Liberia office at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT)

I spent 6 weeks in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, in November and December 2015 to design the eGovernment Web Development Strategy for the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MoPT). Liberia Faced 14 years of civil war until 2003 then they faced an Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015. Peace Nobel Prize President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf worked hard to put Liberia on the good tracks with the support of the international community and she is still in the office until 2017. There is not metropolitan fiber yet in Liberia or national fiber connecting key cities, but the ACE submarine cable is reaching Monrovia and should help to bridge the digital divide in this country.
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Visiting the United Nations University in Macao

The UN University - Computing & Society in Macao

The UN University – Computing & Society in Macao

I spent a couple of weeks in Macao after a kind invitation from the United Nations University – Computing & Society (UNU-CS) and I arrived during the Chinese new year. It was nice to see the city enlighten by three festive days!

UNU-CS opened last year under the direction of Mike Best who was the former director of Media Lab Asia in India and the former head of the eDevelopment group at the MIT Media Lab. UNU-CS defines itself as a new research institute at the intersections of information and communication technologies and international development (ICTD) focusing on the key challenges faced by developing societies through high-impact innovations in computing and communication technologies.

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Writing a National Open Source Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for Mauritius

National Computer Board reception

Mauritian National Computer Board reception

I have been lucky enough to spend six weeks in the beautiful island of Mauritius to work on their National Open Source Policy, Strategy and Action Plan. My colleague, Andrej Kositer, and I were based at the National Computer Board (NCB) in Port Louis.  The NCB was set up in 1988 to promote the development of ICT in Mauritius and they expect to be the key enabler in transforming Mauritius into a cyber island and a regional ICT hub. Continue reading