Convergence Partners has released its latest research report on big data and its meaning for Africa.
Of concern to us in the developing world is that the current ecosystem around big data creates a new kind of digital divide: the big data rich (developed world) and the big data poor (developing world). This report argues that big data poses a threat to those it overlooks, namely a large percentage of Africa’s populace, who remain on big data’s periphery. As most Africans use feature phones, and not smartphones ‘they do not regularly contribute data to be analysed, as they do not routinely engage in activities that big data is designed to capture’1. Additionally, the report discusses the political economy of big data, its implications on policymaking, warns against a scramble for Africa’s data and outlines opportunities for the Continent to fully exploit the advent of big data. It is argued that that there is a requirement for the active involvement of policymakers, business and civil society to ensure that Africa leverages the benefits, and addresses the potential pitfalls that the big data phenomenon may create.
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