Emerging Challenges in Civic Technology in West Africa

This paper aims to spotlight the emerging challenges of civic tech in West Africa and analyse the impact of these challenges on the current state of civic tech, focusing on how civic tech organisations can provide solutions to the region’s most pressing problems. While examining these challenges, this paper offers insights into how civic tech synergizes to overcome these visible threats, to promote innovative solutions that are fit for purpose.

Introduction

West Africa is a region on the African continent in Sub-Saharan Africa, made up of 16 distinct countries; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. These countries have varied political and socio-economic histories, ranging from the impact of years of colonial rule and then from military to democratic government.

The history of this region has impacted governance and development systems, including how citizens are engaged with the governance process and how the governments are perceived due to mistrust. Consequently, West Africa has encountered distinctive challenges that hindered the development of civic technology (CivicTech) solutions and limited their potential for technological advancement. Nevertheless, the few civic tech tools available have helped to improve issues around healthcare, governance, transparency and accountability, amongst others, which has been a bane in development in most countries in West Africa

Overview of Civic Technology and its Significance

Civic technology (CivicTech) is a system of solving problems using technology and innovative approaches. It involves using technology to strengthen the links between the Government and its citizens with a focus on how new technologies can improve governance and accountability, how we can bridge digital divides, and support service delivery. Civic tech tools have helped to improve the relationship between citizens and government, create a more transparent budgetary process, and enhance service delivery, decision-making, citizen engagement, and participation in electoral processes. Civic technology has significantly strengthened regional connections, civic activism, participation, and learning for leaders, researchers, public office holders, and other stakeholders, forging new pathways with technology to build innovation ecosystems across sectors to solve the region’s most pressing problems.

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