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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

6.2. Afrikakolloquium: Technology Disruption and Digital Colonialism in Africa

When Feb 06, 2019 from 04:15 PM to 05:45 PM (Europe/Berlin / UTC100) iCal
Where Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, 4. Etage, Raum 410
Contact Name
Contact Phone 030 2093-66022

Olufunmilayo B. Arewa

Shusterman Professor of Business & Transactional Law
Temple University Beasley School of Law


A technology revolution has swept across many countries in Africa in recent years. This influx of new technologies has been to a significant degree disruptive. A number of policymakers and commentators implicitly assume that the impact of such new technologies will be positive. Although the ultimate effects of new technologies may be uncertain, existing governance practices and institutions in many African countries may give pause to optimistic assumptions. Technology diffusion in countries in Africa and elsewhere has been shaped by institutions in turn influenced by history, politics, culture, law, business, and other factors. In many African countries, the introduction of new technologies draws attention to patterns of lawmaking within Africa. Some of these patterns reflect familiar configurations evident elsewhere in the world as new technologies confront laws and regulations that were constructed without contemplation of the broad range of new technologies that now exist. The at times poor fit of existing laws and regulations for new technologies is an issue of ongoing discussion and at times contestation globally. In addition to such acknowledged problems, the dissemination of new technologies in Africa may also highlight a range of legal concerns that are less familiar, at least in many developed countries. This second set of concerns relates to ongoing colonial legacies, which are by no means limited to law. Historical legacies of colonialism raise questions about the influence of external forces in Africa in the digital era and the extent to which technology disruption has come with new patterns of digital colonialism.

Olufunmilayo B. Arewa is the Shusterman Professor of Business and Transactional Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. (Anthropology) from the University of California, Berkeley, an A.M. (Applied Economics) from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an A.B. from Harvard College.  Her major areas of scholarly research include technology, music, copyright, film, business, and Africana studies. Prior to becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nearly a decade, working in legal and business positions in the entrepreneurial and technology startup arena, including law firms and companies in the Silicon Valley and New York. She also served as Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel of a venture capital firm in Boston. Before becoming a lawyer, she was a Visiting Lecturer at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) at the University of Michigan and served as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and Montevideo, Uruguay. She has served as Vice Chair of the Nigeria Copyright Expert Working Group, worked on projects relating to education and scientific and technological capacity in Africa, and served as a lead consultant for a project examining the feasibility of establishing a venture capital fund in the Eastern Caribbean.