Updated 27/03/21

International Research Network-South (GDRI-Sud)

February 2021 – February 2025

South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and more recently digital technologies (GPS, sensors, video surveillance cameras, smart meters, drones) are increasingly used to provide, organize, optimize, monitor and evaluate the urban services of cities in the North as well as in the South. African cities, in particular, are experiencing an expansion of digital uses, as evidenced by several indicators: growth in the number of Internet and social network users, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, development of e-commerce and e-government services, development of mobile applications for users of public services. Innovations are rapid in key sectors such as banking, insurance, basic services (water, electricity, sanitation) and health.


© Alvy - Microservios

International organizations consider that the adoption of ICTs, digitization and automation have positive effects on productivity, growth, wealth and well-being and offer developing economies the opportunity to "skip” certain development stages experienced by industrialized countries. However, there is no consensus on the positive impact that digital technologies would have on growth and development and their use raises risks and challenges regarding the strengthening or widening of social and economic inequalities, their environmental impact and the cost of heavy investments in infrastructure.

The need of new knowledge in the face of these promises, risks and uncertainties is immense and urgent. The links between digital technologies and development are still little studied and little theorized in African urban contexts.



Strengthening the production of empirical data and building interdisciplinary analysis methods to analyze the impacts and societal implications of the use of digital technology in the management of African cities remains a fundamental research issue. However, to date, there is not yet a research team capable of taking into consideration all of their political, economic, social, territorial, environmental and ethical impacts in the heterogeneous context of developing countries.

The ambition of this GDRI is to participate in the networking of French-speaking (Senegal, Burkina Faso) and English-speaking (South Africa) researchers, from several disciplines (geography, planning, urban studies, ICT4D, mathematical and computer modeling, law), in order to decompartmentalize the expertise necessary for this scientific advancement. Its objective is to create an interdisciplinary team, which, through its collaborative activities (seminars, research training, setting up projects, publications), will be able to identify research issues at the interface of several disciplines and translate them into new research questions, in order to structure an ambitious research agenda for the 2020s.



Scientific coordination: Elisabeth Peyroux, Prodig research unit



French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development