Tech Accountability — From a Tanzanian/African Perspective.

Carol Ndosi
6 min readMay 3


Technology has revolutionized the way people interact with the world, providing unprecedented access to information, communication, and resources.

In Africa, technology has been used to tackle numerous social, economic, and political challenges, from improving healthcare delivery to fostering entrepreneurship. However, with the rapid proliferation of technology, there has also been a growing concern about the accountability of tech companies and the impact of their products on African societies.

Tech accountability refers to the responsibility of technology companies to ensure that their products and services do not harm people, communities, or the environment. This includes issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, cybersecurity, and environmental impact. In Africa, the need for tech accountability is even more urgent due to the continent’s unique challenges, including weak regulatory frameworks, limited digital literacy, and limited access to justice.

One of the most pressing issues of tech accountability in Africa is data privacy. With the rise of digital platforms, data has become an increasingly valuable commodity, and tech companies often collect vast amounts of data from users without their explicit consent or knowledge. This data can be used for various purposes, including targeted advertising, algorithmic decision-making, and even political manipulation.

In some cases, this data can also be sold to third-party entities without the users’ knowledge, leading to serious privacy violations. Tanzania has just released a governement gazzette/ notice officiating The Personal Data Protection Act №11 of 2022 (the Act) that was passed on 1 November 2022 as a recognition to the right to privacy and personal security enshrined under Article 16 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977. We need more work on awareness around the implications of this law and what it means for the citizens.

Another critical issue is algorithmic bias, which refers to the tendency of algorithms to reproduce or amplify existing social biases and inequalities. In many cases, algorithms are used to make important decisions, such as hiring, lending, and policing, but they may reflect and amplify the biases of their creators, leading to discrimination against certain groups. In Africa, where there is already a high degree of social and economic inequality, algorithmic bias can exacerbate existing disparities and undermine social cohesion.

However, one may argue this is also self propagated by the content we expose and subject ourselves to as digital users although there are cases observed where feature phones and smartphones are pre-programmed with content that amplifies social biases and does not necessarily contribute to one’s personal and professional development.

With the current rise in use of artificial intelligence tools, tech accountability is crucial now more than ever and calls for a global and regional dialogue. We have heard of the pros and cons of such emerging technologies and how for instance they threaten the core integrity of academia etc. One may beg to question, how do we strike a balance between open source tools, their access and tech accountability.

Cybersecurity is also a significant concern, particularly as the use of technology in Africa continues to grow rapidly. Cyber attacks can cause significant financial losses, damage to critical infrastructure, and even loss of life in extreme cases. Unfortunately, many African countries lack the technical expertise and resources needed to combat cyber threats effectively, leaving them vulnerable to attacks.

Online harassment has also been quite prevalent in cyber security and calls for tech accountability; Through the helpline we run as LP Digital, we are able to escalate cases of digital security and online harassment to tech platforms, via platforms like ACCESS NOW or directly to the platforms safety departments. It used to be relatively easier to escalate cases to Twitter but with the major changes and layoffs at the Africa office, our emails have not been getting a response. Matter of fact we are yet to find out who has replaced the former Head of Safety who used to be quite supportive. Generally with notable absence of their physical offices in Tanzania, It is still a major challenge to call for tech accountability on abusive content particularly when it comes to Swahili content and getting these tech platforms to take action.

Also on online harassment particularly online gender based violence; Through our advocacy campaigns and partnerships i.e with we have been amplifying a responsive approach which includes actions one can take to address certain attacks/cases. Access to justice for victims of online gender based violence is still a challenge starting with legal support to log cases to the socio cultural norms that affect the justice and legal systems and influence how they handle cases i.e of Non consensual sharing of intimate images — NCII.

However, we commend efforts taken by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan who issued a directive for a special task force to be formed between TCRA — the regulatory authority and then Cyber Crime Unit under Tanzania Police to address the rise of cases of non consensual sharing of intimate images and revenge pornography. We have been priviledged to have access to this taskforce which we have been working very closely with our helpline. Since July 2022, we have referred more than 25 cases to them, of which 12 have so far been solved and closed.

It is important that we understand how Tech accountability on online harassment also affects aspects of digital democracy. For instance Some of these cases include online harassment against women in politics which poses as a limitation for them to have an online presence and therefore affects their participation and activeness in politics which eventually affects how they would practice democracy. This can also be said on suppression of women’s voices on civic issues due to the abuse they face when they are vocal.

Jamii Forums — a citizens engagement platform is our very own great example of pushing for tech accountabilty work. JF has been safeguarding and pushing for access to information,freedom of expression, good governance and accountability and using technology as an enabler. The platform insists on anonymity and protection of user data as a safeguarding and protection mechanism. They also recently championed a citizens model bill on data privacy and data protection which calls for accountability from tech and MNOs on the same.

Additionally on tech accountability and digital democracy, Insights from our current project #SautiZao (a citizens engagement platform for promoting and protecting youth and women’s voices online) include over self censorship amongst this group brought about by looming fear from the suppression on freedom of expression by the former government in Tanzania.

Youth and Women still don’t feel safe speaking out on civic issues specifically those seen to call out on the government considering the subtle warnings government leaders still make in their statements to the public on how citizens should use online platforms.

With this uncertainty most of the youth and women were quoted saying they need some sort of guarantee on anonymity — and recommended a platform be designed where youth can voice out their opinions freely without fear of being arrested or subjected to more online harassment from opposing factions. The big question here is how do we push for tech accountability in a way that it guarantees essential freedoms but does not infringe on one’s digital rights including being free of online violence and hatespeech.

Lastly, the environmental impact of technology in Africa is a growing concern. Electronic waste, for example, is becoming an increasingly significant problem in many African countries, with discarded electronic devices polluting water sources and damaging ecosystems. Tech companies have a responsibility to minimize their environmental footprint and ensure that their products do not contribute to environmental degradation. We need to see more deliberate efforts in amplifying awareness of the environmental impact but most importantly any responsive mechanisms we have in place for this.

In conclusion, tech accountability is a critical issue in Africa, and it is essential that technology companies take responsibility for the impact of their products and services on African societies however minimal their markets as a safeguarding policy. Governments also have a role to play in strengthening regulatory frameworks and enforcing standards of tech accountability. Do we follow suit from our Nigerian brothers and sisters and ban these tech companies who do not adhere to local licensing regulations? Should they adhere to; are our local/national licensing regulations and policies cognizant of all the above?

Ultimately, the goal must be to ensure that technology is used to benefit people and communities in Africa, rather than to exploit them.In recent years, the issue of tech accountability has become increasingly important. With the exponential growth of technology and its integration into every aspect of our lives, it has become clear that there needs to be a greater emphasis on holding tech companies accountable for their actions.



Carol Ndosi

🇹🇿 |Development Advocate|#GlobalGoalsTZ Champion|Feminist|MWF ‘16|Social & Biz Entrepreneur @MaMaendeleo @nyamachomafest @bongofesttz @thelaunchpadtz