Jake Okechukwu Effoduh ~ Regulating Self-driving Cars: An African Perspective

(2022) 3 TWAIL Review 134–170
ISSN 2563-6693
Published under a Creative Commons licence

Self-driving cars as a mode of transportation in Africa is probably more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’ question. These autonomous vehicles that could benefit human safety by reducing human deaths from car crashes, may disadvantage Africans if the production of the technology does not adequately reflect African perspectives, including in the ethical constructions about rulemaking. To reduce or prevent technological racism, inequality, and the marginalization of Africans, actors in this field of autonomous transportation should investigate and challenge the differentials of power that will arise from the innovation.  Ethical rulemaking for autonomous vehicles must be open, continuous, inclusive, collaborative and communitarian. Any ethical standards proffered should be cognisant of societal and environmental wellbeing and should ensure local sustainability and knowledge mobilization within the adopting states. Rulemaking on self-driving cars must go beyond ethics and should rely on international human rights norms and standards as a minimum core. Within the various instruments of international human rights law, the African regional system provides a unique perspective on human rights, and the African human rights instruments require new technologies to be cognizant of cultural norms and traditional knowledge, and to not perpetuate colonial constructions. An African perspective in this discourse on self-driving cars is relevant for its regional adoption and absorption, and it could also provide a more holistic, responsible, equitable, and accountable appreciation of the technology.