Tag Archives: ICT policy

Towards an African Declaration on Internet Rights

Untitled

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:

Untitled

 

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.

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT Opens

AECFI_logoR

The 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT opened today, Wednesday November 28, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal. Under the theme Teaming-up for a strengthened and coordinated approach to foster Euro-African innovative cooperation on ICT, the two day forum will bring together European and African stakeholders in the public and private sectors involved in collaborative ICT research and ICT for development to share knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, discuss policy related issues.

The ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network – of which CIPESA is a member – is participating in the forum under the eGovernment & eDemocracy track.

Session chair: Angela Crandall, iHub Research
Panellist: Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA

The objectives of this session are to understand the different eGovernment/ eDemocracy initiatives being undertaken, discuss the progress being made in governance through the use of mobile tools, and identify the challenges that need to be overcome in order to scale and sustain eDemocracy/ eGovernment initiatives.

The 5th in its series, the event is organised by the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative under the aegis of the European and the African Unions Commissions.

Read more about the forum here.

Uganda Revises ICT Policy

By Samuel Nabwiiso 
The ministry of Information and Communication Technology is developing a new telecommunication policy to allow fair competition in the market.
The policy has three core objectives: to create a conducive environment for the establishment of a fully liberalized technology and a competitive telecommunications sector, to promote the roll out of telecommunication infrastructure and affordable services, and to promote the human resource capacity.

Jimmy Ssamanya, the permanent secretary ministry of ICT, says the country needs a comprehensive policy that will address barriers blocking the penetration of services in rural areas.

“Uganda ranks among the least countries in Africa in as far as using internet is concerned. That is why the ministry must come up with a strong policy to address the problem,” he said

Ensuring that there is access to internet country wide, the policy will address issues like greater integration of ICT skills trainings at all levels of education, developing the National data back bone, reducing the rates of access to internet, among other interventions. The policy is a response to a study carried out in 2003 to access the performance of the sector, and what is needed to drive it forward.

On the issue of roll out of telecommunication infrastructure and affordable services, the policy will enforce the sharing of telecommunication infrastructures and other telecommunication resources among operators, and also develop a pricing and tariff regime.

“This business of every telecommunication company erecting its masts is going to be phased out with this proposed telecommunication policy,” he said.
The new policy also intends to establish the Uganda communications tribunal to hear complaints emerging out of the sector.
Government plans to meet all these objectives by 2015.
Source: The Observe newspaper, June 22, 2011