What If Technology and Innovation Become Medium of Peace Instead of Sources of Conflict?

Reflection by Mujuni Baitani

There has not been great time in the world like the time we have now. One of achievement we have in this century is the power of technology and innovation that connects us. Technology and innovations has lead to advancements in healthcare, education, business, music, governance, peace and many other industries. As technology advances, our lives become contented and more append.

Serious as it is, the power of technology and innovation seems to be fruitfully . As with most world developments the Technologies tend to get more sophisticated over time,which leads to innovation based approach solving problems matching new situation or problem from previous experiences, which are encoded in different cases. Access to digital information and communications technologies has increased dramatically over the past decade across Africa. In Tanzania, 87% of urban residents report using a mobile phone every day. In addition, 34% of the population access the internet. The vast majority use their mobile phones to do so.

Apart from access of internet, also the mobile revolution has generated much potential for new technologies to contribute to economic, social and political developments, improving service delivery and fostering political change. (World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report)

However, the increased technological innovation presents risks of damage which lead to threatening Peace. These advancements cause threats by Cyber operations; social media especially. As Tanzania I can not prove that we are safe from the risk of cyber security. These risks can threaten our finances, identity, and privacy since this is our way of life. Our digital literacy has been growing that needs a proper considerations where no one must not be left behind, we need to prioritize knowing we have a role to play.

We evidently see the use of technology and innovation being productive while at some time being futile. Different efforts have been done by different individuals, communities and even institutions though mostly discern proving most critical challenges being lack of awareness amongst technology users. I believe that technology and innovation can spark the interest of good practices in peace building in different ways. But before I blame technology, I need to put it to the open that most of the response to these threats has been influenced by political calculations. Expressions of political dissent have been cast as “cyber-crime”. What is missing is coherence around the effort to use technology in a positive, peaceful way. Maybe the time has come for a different kind of up rise that we can incooperate technology and innovation in peace building context and introduce “Peace Tech” rather than the big concepts being conceptualized into political context.

For a while I have been working in the tech ecosystems were Young Tanzania are shifting from blaming, now they are working to find solutions of the problems they are facing. I can witness that after I participated and contributed to the Mawazo Challenge Project www.mawazochallenge.com and Hatua Project both of these project are emphasizing on how technology can be used for better. Though I have been thinking that it would be best of our interest to also consider starting the Civic Hubs in Tanzania, where most of the vulnerable actors of Peace and Technology can have a platform to discuss, ideate and projecting the best practice to change the status quo. This will definitely help our digital networks to utilize on precedence scale and the efforts will connect.

In some ways, the revolution is underway, where we most of the actors in Tech sector and Civic Tech such as http://saharaventures.com/www.tanzaniabora.org and www.shecodesforchange.org are putting innovation to use to prevent conflict, mitigate its effects, and rebuild societies in ways that reward entrepreneurship by focusing on the use of technology to bring up innovative healthcare and education, monitor elections, delivering data, creating engagement platforms and ending poverty.

As I finalize my sharing I would advise more actors to come on board and ensure that we all champion the better use of technology and innovation. I propose that there is a need of a master plan for the use of Technology and Innovation that ally with the Government efforts, if there are no efforts then it’s our major responsibilities to ensure that we convince them to get on board. The master plan should show the way by leveraging tech sectors to further democracy getting better ways of using technology and innovation to Community agendas not just peace. More for that our response should be to empower citizens with the technology to increase wealth, education, information, employment and human security without all of that it will be hard to ensure that our communities are in Peace.