Research ICT Africa (RIA) is an African think tank that has operated for over a decade to fill a strategic gap in the development of a sustainable information society and digital economy. It has done so by building the multidisciplinary research capacity needed to inform evidence-based policy and effective regulation Africa. RIA’s dynamic and evolving research agenda examines the uneven distribution of the benefits and harms of the intensifying global processes of digitalisation and datafication.

RIA research team

Alison Gillwald (PhD) is the Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA), an African digital policy and regulatory think-tank based in South Africa. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Cape Town’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance where she supervises doctoral students undertaking transdisciplinary research on the digital economy and society in Africa.

Scott Timcke (PhD, Simon Fraser University) is a political economist of digital technology and democratic life. He is a Research Associate of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Change and an Affiliate with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Zara Schroeder is an AI Researcher at Research ICT Africa (RIA) with a Master’s degree in public Sociology and Anthropology. She has specialised knowledge in gender discourse, ethical AI, regulation, and governance of AI, with a passion for participatory action governance. Her experience spans various global projects, including the Global Index on Responsible AI, which is an index that assesses the responsible use of AI in over 140 countries, and the African Observatory on Responsible AI, dedicated to supporting and showcasing the work of emerging AI women researchers in Africa. Moreover, she recently co-authored a paper in Nature Human Behaviour titled, “A new research agenda for African generative AI” which looked at the regulation of generative AI from an African perspective. Additionally, she has also contributed to the UNESCO report, “Landscape Study of AI Policies and Use in Southern Africa” which analysed use cases of AI in Sub-Saharan Africa, the risks associated with these AI systems as well as policy recommendations. In addition to this, her expertise extends to gender-based violence, where she has led an online campaign encouraging women to share their experiences and suggest regulatory measures for social media platforms to safeguard women online.

Elizabeth Orembo has joined RIA as a research fellow. She is a tech public policy enthusiast who works at the intersection of technology and human development.