In 2016, Mauritius announced the launch of a “safe city” project—a public-security initiative deploying cameras and other advanced digital technologies from the controversial PRC-based vendor Huawei. Shrouded in opacity and set up outside standard oversight mechanisms, the project raises the specter of surveillance and digital control in the country.
In this episode of the Power 3.0 podcast, featured guest Roukaya Kasenally discusses how the Mauritius Safe City Project could worsen backsliding in one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Drawing on her essay for the International Forum for Democratic Studies’ recent report Smart Cities and Democratic Vulnerabilities, Kasenally will explain what the Mauritian experience tells us about responding to China’s smart city exports, and the broader dangers of digital development in the absence of democratic guardrails.
Roukaya Kasenally is an associate professor at the University of Mauritius and an alumna of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. Christopher Walker, vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy, and Beth Kerley, a program officer at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, cohost the conversation.
For further insights on emerging technologies and democracy, check out the International Forum’s companion blog, “Power 3.0 Understanding Modern Authoritarian Influence,” and tune into our upcoming virtual discussion on Tuesday, February 7, from 12:00 pm-1:00 pm EST to learn more about the digital risks of smart cities in an era of democratic backsliding. You can find additional resources on the NED website and join the conversation with us on Facebook and Twitter.
The views expressed in this podcast represent the opinions and analysis of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff. Photo Credit: Agilard/Shutterstock.com.