Panel 1, Tuesday 23 Jun 13:30-15:00 (GMT+1)

DIGITALISATION AND (GLOBAL) EQUITY: WHO BENEFITS, WHO LOSES?

Chair:

- Kerstin Fritzsche , Head of Research Unit “Digitalisation”, Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT), Berlin, Germany (chair)


Panellists:

- Claude Kabemba, Executive Director, Southern Africa Resource Watch
- Anita Gurumurthy, Executive Director, IT for Change, India
- Nicki Lisa Cole, Visiting Researcher, Science, Technology and Society Unit, Graz University of Technology
- Saadya Windauer, Transformation Activist


Abstract
Since the beginning of the internet, there has been great hope in the disruptive potential of digitalisation. Through the anonymity of communication, the boundaries e.g. between men and women were to be dissolved, identities were to be chosen and no longer tied to gender or skin colour. Information and education could be accessed by all – new cooperations and linkages could be forged. In the field of international cooperation, much emphasis has been placed on the enabling potentials of ICT for socio-economic development in the Global South.
But while these stories of global digital enablement continue to be told and manifest in various ways, new forms of disadvantage, divides and even imperialist structures have also emerged: The extraction of raw materials, production and disposal of digital devices takes mostly place in the Global South along with massive violations of both occupational health and safety and human rights as well as the natural environment. The beneficial parties of digitalisation, however, are mostly located in the Global North (e.g. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft…). Besides, the accessibility to digital services is very unequal and the digital divide seems to increase further - both from a global and a local perspective.

Discussion points:

  • How can digitalisation and the use of ICT become more inclusive and sustainable on both the local and the global level? Which conflicting goals may arise?
  • What are the current hurdles and how can we overcome them?
  • Who are the important stakeholders and gatekeepers to strengthen global equity (to lower the digital divide)?
  • Which kind of policies – and policy-making processes – are needed?

  • Panel details

    Kerstin Fritzsche , Head of Research Unit “Digitalisation”, Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT), Germany. (Chair)

    Kerstin Fritzsche leads the research unit on digitalisation at the Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT) in Berlin since June 2020. Her research focuses on the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation for socio-ecological transformation processes and deals with questions of design and governance of sustainable digital change. Besides that, she explores digital development processes in the countries of the Global South and how these can be shaped in a sustainable, just and inclusive way.


    Claude Kabemba, Executive Director, Southern Africa Resource Watch

    Claude Kabemba is the Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). He holds a PhD in International Relations (Political economy) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Thesis: Democratisation and the Political Economy of a Dysfunctional State: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo). Before joining SARW, he worked at the Human Sciences Research Council and the Electoral institute of Southern Africa as a Chief Research Manager and Research Manager respectively. He has also worked at the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Centre for Policy Studies as Policy Analyst. Dr. Kabemba’s main areas of research interest include: Political economy of Sub Saharan Africa with focus on Southern and Central Africa looking specifically on issues of democratization and governance, natural resources governance, election politics, citizen participation, conflicts, media, political parties, civil society and social policies. He has consulted for international organizations such Oxfam, UNHCR, The Norwegian People’s Aid, Electoral Commissions and the African Union. He has undertaken various evaluations related to the work of Electoral Commissions and civil society groups interventions in the electoral process in many African countries. He is regularly approached by both local and international media for comments on political and social issues on the continent. His publication record spans from books (as editor), book chapters, journal articles, monographs, research reports, and newspaper articles.


    Anita Gurumurthy, Executive Director, IT for Change, India

    Anita Gurumurthy is a founding member and executive director of IT for Change (ITfC) where she leads research on emerging issues in the digital context such as the platform economy, data and AI governance, democracy in the digital age and feminist frameworks on digital justice. She also directs ITfC's field resource centre that works with grassroots rural communities on 'technology for social change' models. Anita actively engages in national and international advocacy on digital rights and contributes regularly to academic and media spaces.


    Nicki Lisa Cole, Visiting Researcher, Science, Technology and Society Unit, Graz University of Technology, Austria

    Nicki Lisa Cole, PhD is a Visiting Researcher in the Science, Technology and Society Unit at the Graz University of Technology. She is a sociologist with expertise in consumer culture and global supply chains, with a particular focus on the production and consumption of electronics, sustainable and ethical production and consumption, and fair trade systems. Nicki's research program focuses on identifying social barriers to sustainability in the global electronics industry, combining critical political economy with a global value chains approach. Her research into the environmental, social and economic challenges within electronics supply chains has been published across academic and popular outlets. She is an Advisor of Electronics Watch, a member of the GoodElectronics Research Network, and an Associate Member of the Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group


    Saadya Windauer, Freelancer, Transformation Activist

    Saadya Windauer is Industrial Engineer for Environment and Sustainability and works motivated by push transformation as given in the Agenda 2030. Therefore, she is engaged in the field of data conception for Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), digitalization and is claiming a change of the boundless growth paradigm (see former project 2030-watch.de). For her ICT is an instrument and not a solution in itself. The underlying conception of human is a key in ethical and community-based planing, decentralized and implementation of technical solution offers to reach resilience without overstrain planetary boundaries and meet the needs of equality.

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