Strengthening cyber policy research centres in the Global South – Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law

Networking technologies are increasingly at the heart of economic, social, and political activities. Although they facilitate new opportunities, networking and communication tools can also introduce vulnerabilities — such as surveillance, tracking, censorship, and repression — that require new standards, skills, and applications. With the amplification of technology’s role in economic and political empowerment, policy and regulation are key to ensure that its harms are restricted.

Leaders and policymakers generally lack the evidence and objective advice to develop effective regulation in the digital space, yet they are increasingly confronted with cyber threats (crime, terrorism) and other challenges, such as how to govern and support artificial intelligence (AI) ecosystems. Policymakers in the Global South need to ensure that unstable or insecure digital environments do not undermine potential, and that their policies and regulations can adequately respond to new digital challenges such as AI. Furthermore, they must balance a range of priorities with obligations to protect privacy and free expression.

The complexity of cyber-related issues such as AI and data governance requires integrated policies that incorporate expertise and approaches from overlapping areas, including telecommunications and infrastructure, economics, technology, law, and other social sciences — but there are few organizations or experts in the Global South that specifically research cyber policy issues.

This initiative is helping to strengthen research and policy capacity on critical digital policy issues to ensure that policymakers in the Global South consistently use objective, high quality research to inform digital policy development. Centres will be supported to develop a robust policy research agenda that addresses all facets of cyber and digital policy, including human rights, security, and innovation, and the interplay of these issues in the Global South. It will help build institutional capacity and sustainability to produce credible, legitimate, and locally-relevant research that convenes different perspectives on critical policy issues, and it will strengthen the capacity of centres to inform and influence policy development. Together, this will enable policy leaders to respond to the rapidly changing digital environment and allow communities to benefit from the opportunities that digital innovation offers, including improved health, governance, education, and economic prospects, while shielding them as much as possible from the harms.

Project ID


Project status



24 months

IDRC Officer

Ruhiya Seward

Total funding

CA$ 604,700


Kenya, South of Sahara


Networked Economies

Project Leader

Isaac Rutenberg


Strathmore University

Institution Country