The African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics
This reseach centre, the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE), is hosted by the Department of Information Science.
Establishment of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) at the University of Pretoria.
Information ethics is a descriptive and emancipatory discipline dealing with the study of the changes in the relationship between people and the world due to information and communication technologies. Information ethics in Africa provides a unique platform to build an Information and Knowledge Society driven by critical reflection on ethos and values within the African Context. It addresses opportunities and challenges unique to the development of African societies. (2011 ANIE Workshop on Information Ethics in Africa)
In 2007 a group of international academics in the fields of Information Technology, Philosophy and Politics came together to form an academic network to do research on Information Ethics. This network is now known as the African Network on Information Ethics (ANIE). ANIE identified a gap in the academic representation of the African continent on the global stage, specifically pertaining to Information Ethics, and therefore started organising events to stimulate research on Information Ethics in Africa. The result of these activities and international collaboration has led to a partnership with the South African National Department of Communication, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) and various universities across Africa. Finally, this collaboration contributed to the establishment of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE). The aim of this article is to give an overview of the activities that took place from 2007 to 2012 that culminated in the ACEIE at the University of Pretoria.
The roll out of broadband capacity in South Africa and Africa made the use of information more readily available. The recent construction of various submarine cables, such as SEACOM, directly contributed to the expansion of the broadband capacity on the Africa continent. The growth in the communication and information management capacity contributed significantly to the development and management of e-Skills, e-Governance and Information Ethics – and the challenges related to these matters. In this new field of research and study it was identified that students were not properly introduced to Information Ethics and do not fully understand the concept and the purpose as well as the practice of Information Ethics.
To address the mentioned challenge the Africa Network on Information Ethics (ANIE) was established in 2007 with the purpose of structuring Information Ethics within Information Science in Africa. The ANIE activities led to the formal establishment of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) on 17 May 2012. The University of Pretoria Department of Information Science took the lead and formed an integral part of the conceptualisation and negotiations between the parties and now hosts the ACEIE.
The purpose of the ACEIE is to formally reflect on activities and history of Information Ethics in Africa. Furthermore, this reflection should contribute to research on the topic and allow networking with other academics in the field.
One of the main objectives of the ACEIE is to develop a curriculum to teach Information Ethics in Africa. During the first 3 years the ACEIE will develop a curriculum structure and implement the content universities in Africa. A group of more than 30 international academics are working together on this pilot project.
According to a formal Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Pretoria and the South African National Department of Communications as signed on the 15th of December 2011 the ACEIE was conceptualised and will further:
- Support the establishment of other Ethics Centres in Africa through the African Ethics Research Centre Network;
- Convene, coordinate and administrate Ethics Conference and follow-up implementation of the conference resolutions;
- Facilitate the hosting of Ethics Awards Ceremonies in collaboration with other partners; and
- Focus on research and training in Information Ethics
In addition, the ACEIE will:
- Develop short courses for governmental officials in the 9 provinces of South Africa;
- Encourage Information Ethics Workshops where academics and practitioners can come together to enable the exchange of knowledge and enhance the practical dynamics of Information Ethics;
- Function as a centre where research interests can come together to endorse key proposals concerning Information Ethics and its application in African societies, governments and institutions; and
- Maintain its collaborative relationships with UNESCO; the E-skills Hub hosted by the Department of Informatics; and its host, the Department of Information Science.
The African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics is currenly planning the 3rd ANIE International Conference on Information Ethics and Social Media.
For news related to the signing of the MoA, please visit:
For more information on Information Ethics, please visit the Africa Information Ethics website:
For any queries, please contact Rachel Bothma at firstname.lastname@example.org.