2019-03-12

#rp19 speaker Nanjira Sambuli: Conquering the digital divide

As a researcher, policy analyst and advocacy strategist, Nanjira Sambuli works on the impact of ICT adoption on governance, innovation, entrepreneurship and societal culture, focusing especially on gender implications. As Senior Policy Manager at the World Wide Web Foundation, Nanjira promotes digital equality in access to and use of the Web, particularly though the Foundation’s Women’s Rights Online work.

Nanjira is a member of the recently announced UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, DFID’s Digital Advisory Panel, board member at IRIN News, UK Citizens Online Democracy (mySociety) and Digitally Responsible Aid and served as a deputy on the United Nations High Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment (2016-17).

tl;dr - 3 questions to ... Nanjira Sambuli.

We got to ask Nanjira about the topics she will talk about at #rp19, particularly digital divides and digital cooperation.

What are you currently working on that will be part of your talk at re:publica? 
Through my role at the Web Foundation, I’m working on strategies to deepen the understanding on the digital divides in access and meaningful use of digital technologies, particularly the web, and their interlinkages with inequalities and previous waves of exclusion that are contributing to a dramatic slow down in uptake of the internet, particularly in the global South. I’m also working on assessing the different experiences of communities online, from how they perceive concerns on privacy, security and overall maximizing benefits and minimizing harms of digitalization, including on building a contract for the web. Lastly, I will also share reflections on work I’ve been involved in (through the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation) on identifying values and principles, methods and modalities, and illustrative action areas on how digital cooperation can be fostered at local, regional and global level. 

This year's motto is 'tl;dr' (too long, didn't read). Is there a topic you care about that particularly suffers from oversimplification and abbreviation?
It’s a deeply relevant topic. The ‘terms and conditions’ that overtly or covertly inform our experiences as digitalization gains steam need to be laid out bare, to be deliberated upon by all contributors and consumers of our shared digital experiences. Rather than oversimplification or abbreviation, I think the topic suffers from obfuscation, which is related to the shifting roles of governments, private sector and civil society in these times of digitization that’s unleashing great opportunities, yet at the same time amplifying inequalities, injustices and harms. I look forward to seeing how the topic is addressed throughout re:publica, and hope that we all emerge more enlightened and inspired on how to socialize and analyse the tl;dr’s of our digital societies. 

In the spirit of tl;dr: What are your recent must-reads/must-watches (in connection or unrelated to your research field)?
Affordability Report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet – highly recommended to understand the factors that influence how affordable internet is for communities.
Findings from the consultative process on digital cooperation – what it means for communities, the challenges and opportunities ahead.
All things digital ID! The tl:dr factor in this is deep, yet intriguing!
Also, digital financial inclusion – at the surface sounds great, but dig deeper, what it means for autonomy, agency etc is really the tl:dr that needs more people to understand.
Lastly, there are plenty of great reads out there, exploring and debunking the hype around various technologies/trends. Here are some all time favourites on AI, one on blockchain, one on Silicon Valley, one on digital colonialism, and one on the growing elite backlash!