Our Unit has diverse research areas including the following: Internet governance; Innovation policy; Digital taxation; Education; Social media; Smart water; Health; Cybersecurity; Remote warfare; Digital economy; Automation; Technology trade; Knowledge systems and decolonization; Ethics in the era of AI, Big Data, and IoT; E-governance; Democratic participation; Gender and digital policy.



Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies in International Relations explores the geopolitics between technology and international relations. Through a focus on war, trade, investment flows, diplomacy, regional integration and development cooperation, this book takes a holistic perspective to examine the origins of technology, analysing its current manifestations in the contemporary world. The authors present the possible future roles of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies (including blockchain, 3D printing, 5G connectivity and the Internet of Things) in the context of global arena.

This book is essential reading to all who seek to understand the reality of the inequitable distribution of these game-changing technologies that are shaping the world. Research questions as well as some policy options for the developing world are explored and the authors make the case for cooperation by the international community as we enter the fourth industrial revolution.

Special issue: Youth Unemployment, COVID-19 and Technology: South African Challenges and Opportunities for Reform


The articles in this special issue span a variety of disciplines and sectors, but they are all joined by a focus on the future of South Africa and the opportunities presented by digital transformation. Contributions cover the futures of: jobs, borders, migration, education, technology, media & democracy, SA land reform, and continental free trade. They also present solutions based on empirical analyses.

Chapter 23: South Africa and the Fourth Industrial Revolution


The 4IR is widely predicted to transform what have been manual labour-dominated sectors in the production of goods and offering of services while driving wages down. South Africa is largely no exception, although we also note some unevenness and contradictory trends in this chapter. 4IR also presents numerous opportunities for the South African government, businesses and consumers in economic growth, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. We conduct a review of recent trends in the 4IR worldwide and focus on such trends in South Africa through wages, key sectors, corporate sentiment, as well as government expenditure in research and development. There is indication that the country has mismatch in the skills being produced and those required by the 4IR, while its GERD is substantially below the global average for 4IR leadership and equitable participation. 4IR Commission recommendations propose reforms, but over them looms the slow rate of implementation due to past poor execution of other plans in the digital and communications spheres.

What is Africa’s Digital Agenda?

Published in 2021 in partnership with APRI, with research support from Neo Letswalo and Johannes Sekgololo.

Digital agendas have become increasingly central to national policies and plans that aim to respond to the challenges of the future. 

Our review of African countries’ policies and strategies, the most comprehensive of its kind, demonstrates that most African countries have digital agenda documents. These are found as legal texts, stand-alone digital strategies, as sections of national development plans or within aspects of other policies. Click here to read the entire document.

Fitting artificial intelligence into South Africa’s Foreign international priorities

Featured in a 2020 issue of Ubuntu, the official outlet of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists can play a crucial role in advancing the country’s science diplomacy. In the same vein, the definition of diplomacy needs to expand and include, for example, representation of South Africa to leading technology companies and globally leading research centres.

Click here to read more here (page 44).


Artificial Intelligence and International Relations Theories

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere in national and transnational economies and politics. Through its transformative nature, it is simultaneously simplifying and complicating processes. Importantly, it also overlooks and “misunderstands”. Globally, leaders, diplomats and policymakers have had to familiarise themselves and grapple with concepts such as algorithmsautomationmachine learning, and neural networks. These and other features of modern AI are redefining our world, and with it, the long-held assumptions scholars of international relations (IR) have relied on for their theoretical accounts of their universe. Artificial Intelligence and International Relations Theories takes a historic, contemporary and long-term approach to explain and anticipate AI’s impact on IR – and vice versa – through a systematic treatment of 9 theoretical paradigms and schools of thought including realism, liberalism, feminism, postcolonial theory and green theory. This pathbreaking book draws on original datasets, innovative empirical case studies and in-depth engagement with the core claims of the traditional and critical theoretical lenses to reignite debates on the nature and patterns of power, ethics, conflict, and systems among states and non-state actors.

Publication date: 2022. Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan.

African Women in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Change, Policies and Approaches

Contributions to the book will adopt a gender policy-centric approach as its method of inquiry which is to be guided by the following themes:

The editors welcome abstracts on different African national (state) approaches to different gender issues in the 4IR for consideration of no more than 300 words in length. Abstracts should be submitted to Dr Tinuade Ojo by the 28th of February 2022 via email: tinuadeo@uj.ac.za.

See call for chapters here.

Perspectives on the 4IR and the Humanities in Africa:

Innovations, Interests and Implications

Book in progress

Publication date: 2023. Publisher: Oasis Books.

The book addresses contemporary issues within the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era under the rubric of Humanities and Social Sciences Disciplines. The primary focus is to assess the prospects for, and problems and challenges of, Africa and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the academic field of Humanities, to strengthen their interdisciplinary approach in providing robust academic research on contemporary issues. Therefore, the book is concerned about the place for Humanities in the 4IR in Africa and the real world.  


  • ‘BRICS countries’ competitiveness in the 4IR: findings from 3 World Economic Forum indicators’ in The Political Economy of Intra-BRICS Cooperation – Challenges and Prospects, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • University-Industry Collaboration and Patents in South Africa
  • Towards a Conceptual-Policy Framework of ‘Digital Readiness’ in South Africa
  • African Governments and the 4IR: The Emergence of ‘Digital Developmental States’?
  • Googling the Electoral Cycle in the US and SA: Mutual Interests, Big Data and Digital Citizenship
  • South African Technological Dependency and the One China Policy: A Study of Imports from the PRC and the ROC, 2001-2021
  • Innovation and International Politics: EU Technology Imports from the PRC and the ROC, 2001-2021