Interview with Titi Akinsanmi

Diversity is essential not just for success – but for existence.

 

Tell us a little bit about you

I am a digital policy expert currently serves as Policy and Government Relations lead for West and Francophone Africa at Google.

I’m also the lead on Privacy for Sub-Saharan Africa.

I’m a published academic, with a BA in English from OAU, Ile-Ife in Nigeria; a Masters in Public Policy from University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and an LLM from Osgoode Law School (specialising in Privacy and Cybersecurity).

I was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard from 2018 – 2020; I sit on the boards of digital economy, arts and youth development related institutions and currently serve as an advisor on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy.

With over 20 years’ experience in the digital ecosystem, I have learned to live my life focussed on four key principles:

  • Inspire.
  • Inform.
  • Involve.
  • Impact.

 

What drives you forward?

In my undergraduate years while running for election to the role of librarian, I got inspired and hooked on the famous Latin saying by René Descartes: ‘Dubito, Ergo Cogito, Cogito Ergo Sum. Or… “I doubt, therefore I think. I think, therefore I am.” Where I am today has been shaped by my personal quest to become the change that is needed. For me this has meant transitioning from focussing on the use of technology to creating the policy and regulatory ecosystem necessary to allow innovative technologies to be adopted across all of society.

 

Where I am today has been shaped by my personal quest to become the change that is needed.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?

Be courageous. Do not allow negative doubt and failure to disable you. Just tell yourself: “I am more than enough and much more” :)

 

What’s your pitch to CEOs in the identity space?

Let us rethink our approach to data: the ways we use and reuse it and, most importantly, the people and context that help generate this ‘infinite’ resource.

It is the 21st century, and the world is at the fingertips, ears and eyes of those that are digitally connected. Innovations in data and information technology are rapidly outpacing statutes, policies and regulations and 2020 has further entrenched the idea that our social and economic lives are fuelled by data – from video conferencing to healthcare. We have a huge opportunity but this has also brought global attention to the risks and threats (including the issue of data protection in relation to personal consent).

We must continue to press for privacy-based trust frameworks and put consent at the heart of our innovations.

 

Why does diversity matter to you?

Diversity is the very life blood that enables us to create, exist and succeed! Without it we – and any other living being would cease to exist. Whether in the environment or the identity ecosystem, diversity is essential not just for success – but for existence.

 

What book/film would you recommend to your fellow members? And Why?

Honestly?? There are way too many to name just one. It really depends on the state of mind :)

Recommended books would include:

  • Ake by Prof. Wole Soyinka;
  • Wedlock of the Gods by Zulu Sofola;
  • The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah;
  • Weep Not Child by Ngugi Wa Thiongo;
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

And I love to read historical romance !!!

Favourite film is: Black Panther.

Why? These all speak of the experience of those in the minority portraying the, at times, harsh realities of their existence in a deeply divided and biased world.

 

black panther movie poster

Black Panther. Source: Disney

 

What advice would you give to the teenage ‘you’?

“Be You To The Full”

Be courageous and you will succeed. Enjoy every moment. Be present in the present. Make memories & don’t be afraid of tomorrow.

 

Find Titi on Twitter and Instagram @titiakinsanmi, on LinkedIn and at www.titiakinsanmi.com.