CTIN is delighted to announce Technoloxia as our new North Africa Ambassador. Technoloxia joins our current RAP (Regional Ambassadorship Programme) organisations from East Africa (Pollicy); West Africa (Co-Creation Hub); Central Africa (Chad Innovation Hub); and Southern Africa (Magamba Network). With representation from all corners of Africa, CTIN’s RAP Programme will be continuing this year, focusing on advocacy, learning, networking and impact.
Technoloxia’s Managing Director, Yosr Jouini
Technoloxia is a North Africa based initiative from Tunisia that aims to inform and influence tech policy processes, engage in multidisciplinary research, litigate tech law and advise on a diverse range of tech policy issues in the region. Technoloxia is an advocate for civic engagement and technological innovation, with several dedicated projects that focus on fostering positive change by leveraging the power of technology to empower individuals and communities.
CTIN’s Regional Ambassadors Programme, piloted in 2022, aimed to strengthen regional connection and participation in the civic tech space. The CTIN Regional Ambassadors Programme (RAP) for 2023/2024 is funded by the Africa Mradi “In Real Life” (IRL) Fund from the Mozilla Foundation. Our goals for the RAP programme remain the same: 1) Activism; 2) Communication and Marketing; 3) Representation and 4) Learning, aligned with border strategies to increase impact, visibility and continuous knowledge exchange amongst diverse stakeholders in the African civic tech ecosystems.
The announcement of Technoloxia as our North African Ambassador is long overdue. Civic tech innovation and broader innovation have been emerging rapidly across Africa, the speed and scale of which are context-specific. While the civic tech landscape (including civic tech research) is clustered in the more developed economies in Southern, East and West Africa, parts of North Africa are beginning to catch up. It is important to remember the crucial role civic tech played in the Arab Spring of 2011 in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Syria and Bahrain. The Arab Spring represented unprecedented political protests and uprisings against authoritarian forms of government (and governance). Songa and Dabo, 2012 explain that “during the 2011 Arab spring protests in Egypt and Tunisia, smartphones and social media platforms were credited with facilitating and organising structure that outpaced the governments that were trying to suppress the protests”. This type of bottom-up and organic civic participation relied heavily on communication between networks, engagement and organisation, that ultimately led to social justice and the protection of democracy, democratic participation and the freedoms to protest. The Arab Spring was led by young people and was undoubtedly enabled by digital technologies, networks and the simple power of connecting people through social media.
Beyond the revolutionary Arab Spring: a watershed moment, parts of North Africa are steadily developing and investing in emerging technologies and other digital projects (including forms of civic tech initiatives), from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to blockchain technology and smart city policy development and implementation. Examples of these projects include The Cairo Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Cairo AI; “hopeR”, a Tunisian civic tech start-up a civic tech startup built to support people with disabilities; HarassMap in Egypt, designed to report and prevent sexual harassment and abuse; Bizerte in Tunisa, a project aimed at integrating digital technology into waste management and disposal.
Regarding civic tech development in Tunisia, It was the fall of the dictator Ben Ali that kickstarted the first civic tech projects in the country. Since the 2011 revolution, these initiatives have multiplied, to support the creation of democratic institutions. Several flagship projects have emerged in this context, such as the one organised by the Association Al Bawsala, which monitors the activity of Parliament, with instant shares, through the Marsad initiative. There are now large parts of political activity which are scrutinised by these civic observers and shared with the public.
The civic tech sector in North Africa is alive and thriving! As CTIN, we aim to amplify the voices of civic tech actors, advocates and the communities in which they serve. CTIN, as an active community and action learning network, will continue to engage with and celebrate the exciting, creative and important work being done to strengthen democracies across Africa and to empower individual and community voices and means of engagement, participation and empowerment. We look forward to showcasing the amazing work being done in the North African region, and to continue to glean lessons, reflections and ideas to support potential collaborations, mutual knowledge and skills exchanges and to demonstrate tangible impacts across African democracies.
Technoloxia is best suited to serve as our Regional Ambassador representing North Africa. Having a multidisciplinary team and an integrated approach to civic engagement and civic technology, Tehcnoloxia has established networks within the region and even beyond the continent to parts of the MENA region. Some of the organisation’s key research outputs include, the Digitally Yours Podcast; “discussing the North African digital landscape with local actors”; a Documentary Film Series on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on digital rights and the Accessibility ABCs, a project funded by MySociety, a practical toolkit for making civic tech more inclusive and accessible to all.
Yosr Jouini will be representing Technoloxia as our North Africa RAP Member. Yosr is an interdisciplinary researcher studying emerging technologies and their social implications in the global South. Yosr is the director of Technoloxia and is also the host of the Digitally Yours podcast, which specializes in digital rights.
Listen to Yosr talk about Technoloxia and the work they have been doing in the North African region on the Civic Tech in Africa Podcast.
Welcome to the team, Technoloxia!