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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)

Advancing Universal Access to Broadband
To achieve the universal goals of reducing inequality and achieving universal internet access by 2030, clear frameworks that can guide and speed up progress are crucial. During March 2020, led by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), CIPESA joined the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and Facebook in developing  the Rural Broadband Policy Framework (RBPF) to provide guidance to help address the persistent rural-urban digital divide across the world with a focus on the context and challenges faced in rural areas. See this video and infographic.

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 [email protected] 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. 
See more of our recent work below
 Malawi’s Democracy and Digital Rights Record to be Spotlighted by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations
 
 New Mali Cybercrime Law Potentially Problematic to Digital Rights 

 La nouvelle loi du Mali sur la cybercriminalité potentiellement problématique pour les droits numériques

 

CIPESA supports Joint Call  for Togo to #KeepItOn During The Elections
 


Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia and Sudan Revoke YouTube Access Throughout 2010s
Hanging in the Balance: Online and Offline Freedom of the Press in Guinea
Senegal to Review Data Protection Law

Le Sénégal va Réviser la Loi sur la Protection des Données Personnelles

Advancing Collaborations in Strategic Litigation for Digital Rights in East Africa

Africa in the Crosshairs of New Disinformation and Surveillance Schemes That Undermine Democracy
L’Afrique Face à de Nouveaux Systèmes de Désinformation et de Surveillance Qui Sapent la Démocratie

 

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