The inaugural MozFest House: Kenya has kicked off in Nairobi, bringing together a dynamic blend of African tech enthusiasts, pioneering researchers, and passionate human rights activists. With a strong focus on digital sovereignty, labor rights, and inclusion, the event has become a focal point for discussions on pivotal issues impacting the region. Among the critical topics explored are the role of technology in perpetuating social injustices across Africa.
The event, spanning multiple days, has already seen an impressive turnout and has provided a platform for participants to delve into practical solutions to pressing issues like digital extractivism. Attendees have engaged in vigorous dialogues on the concept of introducing global content moderation unions, advocating for fair and equitable wages in the digital landscape, and building robust solidarity networks to support digital labor movements.
Policymakers, technologists, and activists have not shied away from tackling the pressing concerns surrounding emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), and how they have exacerbated the marginalisation of vulnerable groups across the continent. The conversations have also zeroed in on the detrimental effects of extractive data practices, which continue to widen the gap between technology haves and have-nots.
J. Bob Alotta, Senior Vice President, Global Programs at Mozilla, expressed the importance of the event’s mission, stating, “Right now, East Africa — and the continent more broadly — is pushing for tech sovereignty. The policymakers, technologists, and activists at MozFest Kenya are on this campaign’s frontlines, actively pursuing an internet where African perspectives and needs are the status quo.”
Chenai Chair, Senior Program Officer at Africa Innovation Mradi, shed light on the issue of digital extractivism, asserting, “Digital extractivism is core to how many emerging technologies are being built — but it doesn’t have to be. The community at MozFest House is challenging exploitative patterns, like Big tech companies irresponsibly outsourcing the cheaper, ‘lower-value’ aspects in the tech value chain — data annotation, content moderation — to Africans.”
A significant voice at the event was that of Daniel Motaung, a former Facebook Content Moderator, whistleblower, and union mobilizer. Motaung emphasized the importance of collective action among digital workers, stating, “People are the key component to driving solutions about labor rights. If all digital workers unite, we have the power to twist the hand of Big Tech companies to change. We cannot rely on cat and mouse court cases and Big Tech CEOs in closed-door ‘tea-party meetings’ to effect change — real change happens in regulation, and for this, we need a strong, united voice globally advocating for a common cause.”
MozFest House Kenya boasts an extensive program featuring over 30 deep, interactive sessions covering various topics. These include discussions on the path towards inclusive digital identity, the digital ID movement, and the inherent risks of digitizing discrimination through AI.
Mozilla’s broader Africa Innovation Mradi initiative is at the forefront of supporting movements across East and Southern Africa. Its mission is to explore the intricate interplay between technology and society, uplift locally developed innovations and products, ensure that technology includes the voices of Africa, and fund research aimed at enhancing tech accountability across the region.
As the Mozilla Festival House: Kenya continues to gather momentum, it is clear that this groundbreaking event is playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of technology, digital rights, and social justice across the African continent. With participants from diverse backgrounds and expertise, the stage is set for innovative solutions to emerge, propelling Africa into a future where digital sovereignty, labor rights, and inclusion are the bedrock of its technological landscape.