The Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN) and Jamlab Africa presented the annual convening of civic tech and media innovators from across Africa. This year, the Civic Tech Innovation Forum and Jamfest showcased various states of flow in Africa under the theme #AfrIcaFlows. The Civic Tech Innovation Forum 2023 highlighted the dynamic and creative ways in which Africa is adapting to rapid changes in technology and digital innovation, fostering collaboration, innovation, resilience, and adaptation. Flow represents Africa’s ability to create new pathways when old ones fail, emphasising the importance of new ideas and collective action.
We were excited to be a part of this future-shaping event! Thanks to the CTIF and Jamlab teams for all their hard work in putting this event together.
Why is this gathering of innovators important?
Africa's tech future is being shaped by innovators and media makers who are making various sectors and communities across the continent a better place to live. The sessions and speakers emphasised the need for responsible AI, alignment of policy frameworks and the importance of civic tech innovation. The discussions highlighted how AI could empower people to engage in their communities and facilitate communication between governments and citizens. They also addressed the challenges associated with expanding journalism and developing relevant data in Africa. Crucially, the importance and methods of collaboration and adaptation in the face of rapid technological change were also highlighted.
Given the current moment of rapid technological growth and application, the #CTIF2023 and Jamfest catalysed conversations between researchers, journalists, civic tech innovators, and media organisations.
How CTIF maximised learning
After kicking things off with an Opening Panel and setting the scene for #AfricaFlows by reflecting on key lessons learned, the conference featured a range of sessions, including:
- Masterclasses: A full day of in-depth sessions on topics related to AI innovation, digital rights, media innovation, and digital tools.
- AI World Café: Presenting real-life applications of AI tools, processes, and methodologies.
- Workshop Sessions: Engaging and rich discussions on various topics.
- Activation Sessions: Demonstrating different tool movements and advocacy strategies.
- Live Showcase: Exhibiting various AI innovation projects and Civic Tech/Media initiatives and case studies.
- African Union (AU) Media Cocktail Hour: A curated event for networking and inspiration.
- Constellation Social: A joint evening event with Fak'ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival to network, inspire change, and enjoy live music.
In a world where technology accelerates change, misconceptions can hinder its intended flow. Conferences like CTIF/Jamfest aim to educate, engage, and network to help move Africa forward. Through conversations among individuals from various fields, including governance, research, business, media, and innovation, change becomes inevitable.
What did the OCL team get up to at CTIF?
Now that you know all about the #CTIF2023 and #AfricaFlows, here’s how Open Cities Lab got involved and contributed to the conversations:
AI & Future of Work & Play
Africa Data Hub product owner (Ayanda Mhlanga), and data scientist (Thandi Bhengu) kicked off the first day of CTIF with a masterclass that aimed to empower the audience to feel able and equipped to use open source data collection tools to create data collection processes and pipelines that yield useful datasets for decision making in situations where there is no structured data available. This was followed by a “data help desk” hosted by the same team that helped teams and individuals troubleshoot their unique challenges in their own data collection initiatives. The help desk was a great opportunity to engage with others in the sector and troubleshoot data frustrations together.
Our CTO (Matthew Aderndoff) and CEO (Richard Gevers) also facilitated a learning session on AI use cases to support city infrastructure. They explored what the future of AI in cities could look like and what safety measures would be needed in the future.
Digital Rights & Threats: Imagining New Futures
There were several sessions under this theme. We were excited to be a part of these sessions because for OCL this is directly related to democracy and our mission to have a democratic process that is open, transparent, timely, inclusive and digital.
Project Lead Ella Alcock shared the progress and learnings that we have made on the MyCandidate platform. MyCandidate is a platform that empowers voters with easy-to-understand electoral information that anyone can access ahead of an election. Hosted under the theme, “The role of tech in elections”. The MyCandidate project has launched in 4 countries in Africa and it was great to have people from two of these countries during the discussion. This was followed by an interactive session with city stakeholders from the Municipalities of Tshwane and Cape Town, as well as other community representatives on how we can collaborate on making information about community representatives like councillors more accessible and visible to residents/voters.
What does the future #AfrIcaFlows look like?
The forum’s growth reflects the vibrant innovation and flows happening across Africa in media and civic spaces. The forum featured prominent pan-African speakers from organisations such as Corruption Watch, GoVote Nigeria, Shahidi News, ccHub, Amandla.mobi, Uber, Open Governance Partnership (OGP), Kenyatta University, Area of Effect, 1000LimpopoSecrets, Bahir Dar University, OpenUp, MyVote Counts, Magamba Network, Daily Maverick and many more. It also underscores the desire of innovators and supporters to convene, learn, share, and grow together.
We are looking forward to more engagements with the people that we met and the possibility of collaboration soon. If you missed this great event this year, we hope to see you at the next one.
See more from the event gallery here.