Announcement |

The 11th edition of the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) will be hosted in Dakar, Senegal on September 25-27, 2024. This marks the first time that the largest gathering on digital rights on the continent will be hosted in Francophone Africa. Previous editions have been hosted in Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania.

Senegal stands out as a leading light in defending democracy and offers lessons for not only Francophone Africa but the continent at large. Earlier this year, the country held a smooth election amidst a turbulent electoral journey, underscoring the cruciality of the state institutions and democratic culture which the West African country has nurtured over the years.

Hosting FIFAfrica in Senegal will help to shine the light on the situation of digital democracy in French-speaking countries in Africa, which is not regularly or adequately captured in research and public discourse. Now more than ever, Francophone African countries face pivotal choices in building a cyberspace that respects citizens’ rights and meets their needs.

Held annually since 2014, FIFAfrica sets the stage for concerted efforts to advance digital rights in Africa and to promote the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. It places internet freedom directly on the agendas of key stakeholders, including policymakers, journalists, activists, global platform operators, telecommunications companies, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, and law enforcement.

This year, FIFAfrica24 will inform the way ahead for digital democracy in Africa and the role that different stakeholders need to play to realise the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa and Declaration 15 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The notable win for democracy and peaceful transition in Senegal, amidst a democratic regression across Africa, including growing digital authoritarianism, will provide key reflection points for FIFAfrica stakeholders.

In much of Francophone Africa, internet shutdowns; deployment of mass or targeted surveillance solutions; online censorship, such as the blocking of local and international media websites; instrumentalisation of cybersecurity and disinformation laws; barriers in accessing affordable internet; and a recurrent lack of data protection laws, are key concerns.

Senegal provides the starkest contrast in its commitment to a progressive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the technology sector. The country is a pioneer in data governance, a hub for innovation and has made strides in developing an Artificial Intelligence strategy, as well as National Digital Addressing and advancing a comprehensive National Data Strategy.

As of September 2023, there were over 18 million internet subscribers in Senegal. In recognition of the growth in user numbers and the spread of harmful and illegal content online, the Senegalese Personal Data Protection Commission (CDP) has partnered with popular social media platforms to explore mechanisms to effectively regulate hate speech and disinformation online while upholding freedom of expression, access to information and privacy online.

Despite these advancements, like many African states, Senegal grapples with the intricacies of the digital society. In 2023, Senegal, which had in the past kept the internet accessible during pivotal moments, including elections, restricted access to the internet and banned TikTok amidst opposition unrest. In February 2024, the internet was again shut down following the postponement of presidential elections.

At a time of immense global debate on the evolution of technology in society including for elections, public administration, civic participation and business, hosting the FIFAfrica24 in Senegal will highlight francophone Africa’s experiences in digital transformation, the digital economy and digital democracy while promoting greater regional collaboration, dialogue and engagement between local stakeholders and the wider #InternetFreedomAfrica movement.

Timeline for FIFAfrica24

Call for proposals and applications for travel support                                   May 27, 2024

Deadline for call for proposals and application for travel support                June 17, 2024

Opening of registration                                                                                  May 31, 2024

Notification of successful proposals and travel support applications           July 1, 2024

If you would like to be a partner, contact us at [email protected]