Tag Archives: africa

CIPESA’s Reflections on the Third Africa Internet Governance Forum, 2014

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By Lillian Nalwoga.
With the internet projected to reach almost 20 per cent of the Africa population in 2014, it becomes important to discuss modalities under which it should remain an open and reliable tool for development. It is with this background that Africa Internet stakeholders gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, July 10 -14, 2014 to deliberate on key internet governance issues affecting the continent. The main theme for this year’s meeting was “connecting continents for enhanced multi-stakeholder internet governance.”

Towards an African Declaration on Internet Rights

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As internet usage continues to grow in Africa, so does the interest by governments to monitor users’ online activities. This has led to a clash between internet rights promoters and governments in some African countries.

On February 12–13, 2014, participants from several African civil society organisations involved in promoting human rights and internet rights convened in Johannesburg, South Africa to draft an African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. The meeting was organised by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Global Partners Digital in collaboration with the Media Rights Agenda, Media Foundation for West Africa and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Many countries justify their tough stance on internet freedom as necessary to fight cybercrime, promote peace and maintain national security. Whereas some of these policies and practices have been adopted by authoritarian regimes to retain power, others were in response to national crisis contexts such as hate speech and terrorism. Ultimately, the measures have often had chilling effects on access to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection.

Participants in this meeting called for the promotion of an open, free and accessible internet. Issues identified as the most crucial and still hindering internet growth in Africa that need immediate action were: improving access to internet including the development and promotion of localised multi-lingual content; addressing internet infrastructure obstacles; capacity building for users; and the need to create a balance between freedom of expression and privacy of users.

Others identified were data protection, addressing gender inequalities and gender-based violence against women online, and adopting supportive ICT policies that promote freedom of expression online and equitable access to information.

Due to increased internet freedom violation incidents coupled with regressive policies being made in many countries, the need for a well-defined Internet Intermediary Liability (ILL) regime has also become increasingly apparent. Another meeting held on February 10-11, 2014 organised by the APC with support from Google Africa discussed the responsibility that may be placed on intermediaries in implementing monitoring and control mechanisms laid down by the laws.

At the regional level, there are legal and regulatory frameworks like the Africa Charter on Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, which provide limited protection for internet rights and the liability of internet intermediaries. It was noted that such frameworks could act as building blocks for individual countries to draw up best practices on ILL regimes.

There was consensus that such existing frameworks should be the basis for adopting a general guide with definitions of terms on Internet intermediary liability. This guide would act as central referencing document on which individual countries would base their national IIL regimes.

During the discussions, participants charted their thoughts on a best practice guide for an IIL regime for Africa by asking the below questions:

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While responding to these questions, participants recognised that intermediaries can play a crucial role in promoting Internet freedoms in Africa.

Meanwhile, the meeting also reviewed recent policy and practice developments in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria since the 2011 Intermediary Liability in Africa research. It identified a need to increase awareness among different stakeholder groups of the importance of clear regulatory frameworks for intermediary liability to secure rights on the internet; and for stronger collaboration to advocate for best practice internet intermediary regulatory measures in Africa.

The outcomes of both these meetings will form the basis for the draft civil society Africa Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, which will be launched at the ninth global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, Turkey September 2-5, 2014. The declaration will be available for public input throughout the period leading up to IGF 2014.

ToroDev trains rural youth and women in online advocacy for improved service delivery

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ToroDev has started training rural women and youth leaders in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region in using online tools to monitor service delivery. The maiden residential 2 days training involving ten participants was held on 16th – 17th of August, 2012 at ToroDev resource center in Fort Portal, Uganda. The training which is supported by ToroDev in partnership with SPIDER/Stockholm University was facilitated by Milton Aineruhanga from WOUGNET.

ToroDev will train 210 rural monitors and advocates in online/ Web 2.0 tools to collect, document and disseminate online public accountability for improved serviced delivery issues. They will particularly oriented on how to interact with the “Ushahidi” online platform and other relevant open-source software. The monitors were also trained in online social media tools, human rights, governance and democratic engagement.

The monitors were highly trained to be independent local citizens that will keep updating the community and project team at ToroDev about the status of service delivery and identifying communities own service delivery needs.

They will further go ahead to mobilize and encourage regular meetings and focus group discussions (FGDs) among the 14 Advocacy Forums in the region on issues of service delivery monitoring.

Rural Monitors will also advocate for quality and timely public accountability from local leaders.  They will use 11 radio stations in the Rwenzori region as a major tool for distributing/disseminating all the information accessed through online/internet and mobile phones.

This information will be converged on the FM radio stations as a way of sharing information with the rest of grass root citizens in the region, who may not necessarily have the skills and afford town or access internet based knowledge tools. The rural FM radio will be used a hub for the convergence of all ICT tools for effective service delivery monitoring in the Rwenzori Region.

Some of the sample articles posted by the rural monitors on the Ushahidi platform.

http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/59
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/66
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/62
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/64
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/56
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/51

Documented by Solomon Akugizibwe

This article was published on August 28, 2012, about the ICT4Democracy in East Africa project, which brings together various partners in the region – among them CIPESA.

For more information, visit www.ict4democracy.org