- Increasing social gap. Check.
- Decreasing financial capabilities of states. Check.
- Rise of a sharing and caring society empowered by digital platforms. Check.
- Decentralisation and atomisation of government. Question mark?
A recent set of scenarios about the future of governance 2030+ by the EU framed the conditions above as the drivers of a scenario they entitled “DIY Democracy”. And the conditions largely seem to fit where Africa is right now, further intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to rage globally. This DIY scenario is characterised by decentralisation of power and self-organised communities with the civic rising as a key governance actor. It is a story of a co-creating of public services enabled by grassroots participation, digitalisation and the democratization of tech. What does DIY Africa look like?
DIY or “Do It Yourself” refers to the practice of doing or fixing things yourself. It is an old, early 20th century concept that has grown through various movements and practices over time (e.g. makers, hackers, craft, etc.). In the age of digitalisation, DIY is challenging the dominant paradigm of the technology user as consumer to the user as creative appropriator, co-designer or co-engineer (Democratizing Technology). Africans building their own future. DIY is offered as a frame for exploring the potential for a more democratised society – one where technology enables empowerment, participation, critique, and even resistance.
In the 2021 the Civic Tech Innovation Forum (CTIF) and Jamfest we invite African civic tech and media innovators and stakeholders to connect around the ways in which digital innovators, innovations, initiatives and their support structures are playing out across our continent in the spaces of journalism, media, civic activism and public services, particularly in this pandemic era. We are interested in African DIY democracy – how we are co-creating meaning, identity and solutions in and for Africa.