#AfrIcaFlows – Understanding AI in Media and Civic Tech Innovation

We are very excited about this year’s Civic Tech Innovation Forum and Jamfest. This year’s #AfrIcaFlows theme will look at the influence of Artificial Intelligence in the work of media and civic tech innovators on the African continent.
Register for the #AfricaFlows Conference

CTIN’s annual conference, Civic Tech Innovation Forum (CTIF) is intended to enable the civic tech community and ecosystem actors to engage face-to-face (and virtually!), learn about innovations, tools, and techniques, share experiences, and meet potential collaborators. It presents an opportunity to gain an overview of what is going on in the sector in Africa and the world. The conference also provides an opportunity for the Civic Tech Innovation Network to consult with network members to inform the design of future activities.

Jamfest, organised by Jamlab Africa is a conference that brings together journalists, media managers, and other stakeholders across the African continent to talk about innovations, content, and audience analytics, among other conversations. 

These two events make up the joint conference,  CTIF, and Jamfest. This year’s conference takes place from the 16th to the 19th of October 2023.

Introducing this Year’s Theme

From the outside looking in, Africa may look like a continent whose problems are ever-increasing or seemingly impossible to resolve. We might seem stuck. However, if you look closely, you will see a number of actors in civil society, education, government, and the private sector who are helping to move the continent forward. The CTIF and Jamfest is an opportunity to showcase innovators in media and civic technology who are helping move Africa forward; innovators who are tributary streams, unclogging the continent’s rivers of possibility and letting them flow.

At the same time, we live in a technological age and Africa has benefited greatly from the interconnected world as we know it. Our interconnectedness has contributed to an understanding that Africans across the diaspora are on the same rocky seas, if not necessarily in the same boat. We can flow and thrive together; one takes care of the other. Within the tech and media ecosystems, civil society benefits from a symbiotic relationship between innovators, truth-tellers, and also the government, research, and business sectors. 

Technology’s role as an accelerator of change requires agile people who are ready to develop, adopt and adapt it for their mutual benefit. Inherently, technology is not static but continues to move in new and exciting directions every year. This year, we look at how innovators have contributed and adapted to current changes in tech while testing their abilities to make sense of these new realities, and proactively plan for future technological advancements. How are these innovations received in Africa? How do these intelligences and practices flow? The quintessential question is this: when faced with new opportunities, does #AfricaFlow?

Our call to action at CTIF and Jamfest 2023 is that Africa must flow. We understand flow to be a state of mind, creativity, and a state of readiness. 

#AfricaFlows speaks to our ability to create new pathways when old ways have failed. It is understanding we are never alone, and that there are others like us who are ready to collaborate and create solutions with us to generate greater possibilities. 

#AfricaFlows illustrates the confidence we have in our people’s resilience and their ability to adapt to change. Flow addresses intelligences, expressions, experiences, conversations, and practices that facilitate even more flow. We believe that our communities of civic tech and media innovators are a symbol of our ability to flow, and we are ready to demonstrate that because of them, #AfricaFlows. 

Our Flow metaphor also relates to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Imagine AI as a powerful stream of technology and data, and flow as the smooth and efficient movement of tasks and information. Just like a river, AI acts as a driving force that can enhance the flow of various processes in our lives. But just as a river’s flow is mitigated through channels, dams, and topographic changes to prevent flooding and destruction, AI to requires controls to see that it is developed and used ethically, e.g. with considerations for privacy, fairness, and accountability.

CTIF and Jamfest 2023 will help us understand the possibilities in the different forms and ideas of flow that exist and how they can be used to create better futures for our African ecosystem. 

Topics to be covered at the conference

There are many exciting themes and topics being discussed in civic tech and in media, and many of those topics are currently centred around the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our communities and the ways we work.  As the conference’s overarching theme of Flow is also rooted in AI, the design and curation need to reflect the theme. 

Below are some of the themes that we will be covering at this year’s conference:

  • AI and the Future of Work & Play
  • Digital Agency in an Age of Corruption
  • Digital Rights/Threats and The Relevance of Privacy
  • Sustainable Financing for Us

Constellation of Festivals

Each year from September to October, Wits University proudly supports three interconnected festivals that bring together diverse communities and foster innovation and collaboration.

These festivals, namely Jamfest, an African media and journalism conference, CTIF, Civic Tech Innovation Forums, and Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, form a constellation of events that contribute to the intellectual and cultural vibrancy of the university and the broader society.

These festivals are an integral part of the vibrant intellectual and cultural fabric of Wits University. By supporting these events, the university aims to foster critical thinking, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and promote knowledge exchange. Students, scholars, professionals, and community members from diverse backgrounds come together to engage in meaningful conversations, share their expertise, and contribute to the advancement of their respective fields.

The alignment of these festivals allows for a synergistic experience, as participants can explore the intersections between media, journalism, technology, creativity and civic engagement. The festivals provide a unique opportunity for attendees to broaden their horizons, deepen their understanding of the pressing issues facing African societies, and explore innovative solutions that can drive positive change.

Mark your calendars and don’t miss out on a constellation of innovation coming to you from September to October 2023.

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