Highlighting some of our recent work and activities
Quarter 1: March 2020 As the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues to spread globally, various African governments have imposed sweeping measures, some of which have boosted the use of digital technologies. But in some countries, responses are marred by pre-existing regressive measures and could affect the enjoyment of digital rights during and post-coronavirus. Read more
Still on Covid-19, as the world grapples to contain the pandemic, the role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to enhance disease surveillance, coordinate response mechanisms, and promote public awareness has become more significant. This role of digital technologies is particularly crucial in sub-Saharan Africa where systemic vulnerabilities such as weak health systems and high levels of illiteracy could slow the response to the pandemic. Read more
Follow our Twitter thread with regular updates related to #COVID19 and digital rights in Africa (#InternetFreedomAfrica)
Earlier in January, 2020, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) accepted recommendations which CIPESA alongside APC, Rhizomatica, AfChix Uganda chapter, BOSCO Uganda, and the Internet Society made during the 2019 review of the licensing framework for the telecommunications sector in Uganda.
The Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) Awards USD 152,000 to Advance Digital Rights in 18 African Countries
In January, the second round of the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) awarded a total of USD 152,000 to 14 initiatives that are advancing digital rights in 18 African countries. Among the focus areas of the initiatives are access to information, data protection and privacy, digital economy, Digital Identity (ID), digital security, diversity and inclusion, freedom of expression, hate speech, misinformation, and innovation for democratic participation, transparency and accountability (civic and social tech). See more about who the grantees are and what they are doing. ADRF Grantees Swiftly Embark Upon Projects
To date, in Somalia, ADRF grantee Digital Shelter has been conducting digital security workshops with women, while in Ghana, iWatch Africa launched its digital rights initiative to tackle online harassment in the country. In Senegal, grantee Jonction Senegal, with additional support from Facebook, on February 27-28, hosted hosted 25 participants at a workshop to critically examine the personal data protection bill, and make relevant recommendations from a digital rights perspective. Participants included representatives of the Personal Data Commission (CDP), the Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Women, Family and Gender, the Ministry of Justice, media and civil society parties. Government representatives at the workshop welcomed the recommendations and committed to including them in the next draft of the bill, before submission to the General Secretariat of the Presidency of Senegal.
Meanwhile, second time grantee Global Voices has also launched into their project focusing on identity-driven hate speech, misinformation and harassment in African digital spaces during politically charged periods. The project, titled, “The Identity Matrix: Platform regulation of online threats to expression in Africa”.
Celebrating Women's Month
In recognition of Womens' Month, we hosted and participated in a series of activities aimed at promoting more digital inclusion for women and marginalised internet users. In recognition of Women's Day, as part of our work under the Women@Web project funded by DW Akademie and GIZ, which spans Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, we hosted a Twitter chat on the online experiences of women in Uganda (See more reactions here too).
This online activity was followed by two face to face multi-stakeholders engagements during which key insights from research into online safety in Uganda and Uganda's Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019 were shared. In addition an online reporting portal was launched. The research was also presented to 24 Members of Parliament during which their commitment to advancing the development of regulations to support the data protection law was stressed.
Continued Collaborations Promoting Effective and Inclusive ICT Policy in Africa
On January 28, we recognised Data Privacy Day by participating at an engagement hosted by Unwanted Witness in Kampala, Uganda during which Digital Identity in the country was the focus of discussion. See this related Twitter thread. Later, on February 14, we engaged on topics such as freedom of expression, hate speech and technology-assisted violence, digital security, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, data privacy and protection at the Digital Security Conference hosted by Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI). See the conference agenda,
On February 27, in partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) we hosted researchers from various African countries to explore Research methodology on Digital Space and the Protection of Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly in Africa. These rights are key in the realisation of #InternetFreedomAfrica but are often restricted by laws, policies and practices. See this Twitter thread with some highlights related to the topic. In early March, CIPESA supported the Africa Law Tech Festival 2020, and hosted sessions on strategic litigation and digital taxation. In February, we also participated in discussions on the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms hosted by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) on separate occasions.
As part of our fellowship program, at the beginning of the year, we hosted Thomas Robertson, a senior at the Occidental College in Los Angeles, California, United States pursuing degrees in Diplomacy and World Affairs and Group Language. He supported our research analysis and content development including on Senegal’s data protection bill and on YouTube blockage in various African countries.