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CPP Colloquium - An intercultural reflection on the ethics of technology: An African perspective

Thursday 31 March 2022
CPP Colloquium 2021-2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Specialist in applied ethics with interest in development ethics
Dr. Beatrice Okyere-Manu, University of Kwazulu Natal

An intercultural reflection on the ethics of technology: An African perspective


Technology is rapidly evolving. New technologies, systems and iterative enhancements are driving change globally. From an African standpoint, one has to recognise the undoubted value and benefit that the introduction of such technologies has generated.

Whilst this is true, the fact that these technologies were designed and produced in (and for) a different setting often leads to conflicts with African ethical values. The dominant producers of these innovative technologies are from a western cultural background and value system whilst often the major consumers of these technologies are not. This leads to imbalance and ethical questions for the consumers of these technologies (Africa included) - and has been explored in Okyere-Manu’s latest edited book: African Values, Ethics, and Technology: Questions, Issues and Approaches (2021).

In this seminar Okyere-Manu asks: 

  • To what extent is Africa being included in the discussions on the design, and development of these technologies? 
  • How can Africa be a key player seeing that it is one of the major consumers of AI initiatives? 
  • And what framework can be used to aid those who create these technologies.

In talking about the topic, she has often reflected that a new, comprehensive framework needs to take centre stage in giving those who create these technologies a vantage point that is more inclusive and welcoming to the consumers of the technologies. During this seminar, she explores some of Metz’s work on the “capacity to commune” as a potential framework to use.


Dr Beatrice Okyere-Manu is a senior lecturer in Applied Ethics department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Her research interests cover the following areas: Gender and Ethics, AIKS, Technology and Environmental Ethics. Beatrice brings together practical experience in community involvement with theoretical scholarship on African ethics. She has written a number of Journal articles and book chapters in these areas. 

She co-edited a book on Intersecting African Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Western Knowledge Systems: Moral convergence and divergence (2018), which brings together African traditions in ethical thought and pedagogy with Western ideas and practices to think through the ethical implications of applying intersecting knowledge systems to concrete situations in Africa. She recently edited a book on of African Values, Ethics, and Technology: Questions, Issues, and Approaches (2021) which provides critical and ethical reflections on technology from an African perspective.

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