NOW OPEN! FIFAfrica24 Call for Session Proposals and Travel Support Applications

Announcement |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) invites interested parties to submit session proposals to the 2024 edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica24). Successful submissions will help to shape the agenda of the event, which will gather hundreds of policymakers, regulators, human rights defenders, journalists, academics, private sector players, global information intermediaries, bloggers, and developers.

FIFAfrica24, which is set to take place in Dakar, Senegal on September 25-27, 2024, offers a platform for deliberation on gaps and opportunities for advancing privacy, free expression, inclusion, free flow of information, civic participation, and innovation online. This year 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.

As part of the registration, we invite session proposals including panel discussions, lightning talks, exhibitions, and skills workshops to shape the FIFAfrica24 agenda.

CIPESA is committed to ensuring diversity of voices, backgrounds and viewpoints in attendance and as organisers and speakers at panels at FIFAfrica. In line with this, there is limited funding to support travel for participation at FIFAfrica24. Preference will be given to applicants who can partially support their attendance and those who organise sessions.

Submissions close at 18.00 (East Africa Time) on June 17, 2024.

Successful session proposals and travel support applicants will be directly notified by July 1, 2024.

For questions, please email [email protected]  

Submit Your Session Proposal and Travel Support Application Here

Inscrivez-vous au Forum sur la liberté d’Internet en Afrique (#FIFAfrica23) !

Par FIFAfrica |

Êtes-vous passionné par la liberté d’Internet et les droits numériques en Afrique ? Souhaitez-vous rejoindre et vous engager avec la communauté qui fait avancer les droits numériques en Afrique ? Inscrivez-vous pour participer à l’édition 2023 du Forum sur la liberté d’Internet en Afrique (FIFAfrica23), et rejoignez une communauté de diverses parties prenantes de tout le continent et d’ailleurs, pour débattre des questions les plus urgentes et des opportunités pour améliorer les libertés en ligne. Les inscriptions sont ouvertes pour une participation en présentiel ou à distance !

FIFAfrica23 se tiendra à Dar es Salam, en Tanzanie, les 26 et 27 septembre (pré-événements uniquement sur invitation) et les 28 et 29 septembre (conférence principale) 2023. L’événement est organisé par la Collaboration sur la politique internationale des TIC pour l’Afrique de l’Est et australe (CIPESA), en partenariat avec le ministère tanzanien de l’information, des communications et des technologies de l’information. L’événement aura lieu au Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam.

Le Forum marquera une décennie de rassemblement de décideurs politiques, de régulateurs, de défenseurs des droits de l’homme, d’universitaires, de représentants de la loi, de médias et d’autres acteurs pour discuter des lacunes, des préoccupations et des possibilités de promotion de la vie privée, de la libre d’expression, de la non-discrimination, de la libre circulation de l’information et de l’innovation en ligne.

Le programme de FIFAfrica23 comprend 10 thèmes sur une diversité de sujets émergeant des soumissions retenues dans le cadre d’un récent appel à sessions.  Ces thèmes comprennent des panels, des présentations, des conférences éclair, des discours liminaires et des ateliers méticuleusement sélectionnés, à travers lesquels les participants au Forum pourront sonder le paysage des droits numériques et de la liberté de l’internet en Afrique, ainsi que les interventions collaboratives pour relever les défis et exploiter les opportunités d’un internet plus ouvert et plus inclusif en Afrique.

Vous pouvez vous inscrire ici et prendre note du Code de Conduite de l’événement et de la Note de voyage qui comprend des informations logistiques.

Ne manquez pas l’occasion de participer à cet événement historique et de contribuer à faire progresser la liberté de l’internet en Afrique !

Ne manquez pas de suivre @cipesaug sur les médias sociaux et de participer à la conversation en ligne en utilisant les hashtags #FIFAfrica23 #InternetFreedomAfrica.

Register for the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (#FIFAfrica23)!

By FIFAfrica |

Are you passionate about internet freedom and digital rights in Africa? Do you want to engage with and join the community advancing digital rights in Africa? Register to attend the upcoming 2023 edition of the  Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica23) and join a diverse community of stakeholders from across the continent and beyond to deliberate on the most pressing issues and opportunities for advancing online freedom. Registration is open for both in-person and remote attendance! 

FIFAfrica23 will take place in Dar es Salam, Tanzania on September 26-27 (pre-events by invitation only) and September 28-29 (main conference), 2023, hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Information, Communications and Information Technology. The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam.

The Forum will mark a decade of bringing together policy makers, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, law enforcement representatives, media, and other actors to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for promoting privacy, free expression, non-discrimination, free flow of information and innovation online.

The FIFAfrica23 agenda will feature 10 tracks on a diversity of topics emerging from successful submissions to a recent open call for sessions.  The tracks include carefully curated panels, presentations, lightning talks, keynote addresses and workshops, through which participants at the Forum will have the opportunity to delve into the deeper layers of the digital rights and internet freedom landscape in Africa and collaborative interventions to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of a more open and inclusive internet in Africa.

You can register here and also take note of the event Code of Conduct and Travel note which includes logistical information.

Don’t miss this chance to be part of this landmark event and contribute to advancing internet freedom in Africa!

Be sure to follow @cipesaug on social media and join the online conversation using the hashtags #FIFAfrica23 #InternetFreedomAfrica.

Championing Internet Freedom and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at #FIFAfrica2019

By Sandra Acheng |
Due to the rise of internet usage, there is an increasing rate of abuse, threats, and attacks on the internet users’ which women usually fall prey to. The internet can lead to disruption and disinformation and this determines the intensifying need for defending digital human rights violations with a focus on freedom of expression, press freedom and digital rights. Human rights online is a topic that is often forgotten during discussions of human rights violations because the concept is still quite new without acknowledging the reality that human rights offline can translate online.  Many people usually face numerous human rights violations online but they are not even aware that their rights are being violated or where and who to report to in case this happens.
The growing rate of human rights violations online is a result of more people getting online and this greatly affects internet freedom.  Uganda experienced internet shutdowns by the government during elections in 2016 and this affected freedom of expression and online digital rights of users. Also, the introduction of Over the top (OTT) by the Ugandan Government last year in June 2018 has limited users from accessing and using the internet. The increased use of ICT has led to women facing abuse and violence more than ever for instance the growing rate of  Non Consensual distribution of images commonly done by intimate partner (NCII) commonly referred to as “Revenge Porn” is usually associated to morality and decency of women which violates their privacy, women’s rights as well as criminalizing and undermining women who exercise their right to sexual expression.
This year, Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with Small Media convened a two days’ pre-event workshop on the 23rd and 24th September 2019 @FIFAfrica2019 at Ethiopian Sky Light Hotel for human rights defenders on UPR. It was an intense, interactive and fun training that gathered over 30 male and female participants from different African countries that are doing incredible work to champion freedom of expression, press freedom, and human rights online also known as digital rights to influence government and non-government actors in their country or others in defense of human rights. The two days’ workshop tackled;

  • Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review Advocacy Assembly
  • Making an Impact with the Universal Periodic Review

The understanding of UPR
The human rights system that previously existed was criticized for being selective (not all states, not all rights), non-collaborative, paralyzed by political games, therefore, the UPR came as a response to the Human Rights system because UPR is non-selective, collaborative and have no double standard. UPR is Universal Periodic Review and the first United Nations Human rights mechanism on Human rights online to create a more just world for everyone since it requires every UN member country to review, therefore, it gives entry to CSOs.
The universal periodic review happens every 4 to 5 years for 6 months. However, Countries have limited time to make recommendations.
How can internet freedom be championed in UPR?
Human rights review mechanism such as United Nations Universal Periodic Review provides a good opportunity to review human rights violations online among African countries and can be a good way of arguing that digital human rights are universal and hold African governments accountable on how they treat their citizens on this. Here are incredible ways internet freedom can be championed in UPR;

  • Building capacity of more human rights defenders and activists in African civil society organizations
  • Encourage collaborations at the national level; by bringing in new people during the periodic reviews of states doing the same work to get more people aware. Collaborations by group increase credibility because local NGOs collaborate with international bodies and togetherness is better.
  • Increase participation by involving different actors in CSO activism and human rights in different Africa civil society countries to lobby governments to submit recommendations.
  • Make UPR an expert mechanism because UPR is a political mechanism and it focuses on states which consider only national priorities.
  • Increase the time taken by each state to raise issues and make recommendations at Geneva because usually 50-100 states take the floor for 3-5 hours and make 4-5 recommendations which are limited time for each state to put the recommendations
  • Gather more activists and human rights defenders to convince African states to raise the issues of policy and laws during the UPR and take up recommendations made.
  • Showcase more research to make the UPR recommendations valuable.
  • Form a coalition in different African countries or states so that the group get accurate and real time information and participate in UPR which will give a sense of responsibility and commitment by different states to make submissions in time.

However, there are relevant tips or rules for advocacy of issues for considerations during the preparation of recommendations of a state under review;

  • The recommendation must be specific enough by mentioning specific laws and should be easy to follow up on the recommendations
  • It is good if the recommendations focus on only one issue.
  • It is better if the recommendations are action oriented.
  • Use Human rights language. Avoid languages that make the recommendations impossible.
  • Make the recommendations stronger by backing it up with references in your country for instance treaties or laws in your country.
  • Back up your recommendations from the African commission or other international bodies.
  • It is useful to put yourself in the shoe of the person you are trying to interest on your issues for instance on time.
  • Know your country very well in terms of internet freedom.
  • Prepare a statement of UPR for 2 weeks in about 10 countries.
  • It is good to make the presentation of recommendation a dialogue
  • It is always good to contact the person you are convincing before because they may not support your issues.
  • Note that not all diplomats are familiar with human rights online.
  • Pitch your idea.

There is need to build capacity, encourage collaborations and increase participation in Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

FIFAFRICA19: The Sessions, The Lessons, and Takeaways

By Hilda Nyakwaka |
The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa event this year was hosted in Addis Ababa between 23rd and 26th September. This event was considered monumental because a few months prior, there were internet shutdownsand this was a testament to the progressive strides Ethiopia was making in creating an open and accessible internet for its citizens.
The first two days of the week were dedicated to a training on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hosted by Small Mediaand Data4Changeand with representatives from over 10 African countries.The UPR, an innovation by the UN Human Rights Council, is a periodic review of the human rights records by the 193 member states of the UN (UPR). The main purpose of this training was to see how to champion for digital rights at the coming UPR.
Over these two days participants went over different concepts such as the importance of making recommendations to countries through the UN in an effort to improve the digital space, how to build capacity for recommendation-making processes, how to increase participation in the UPR process and how to foster collaborations between participants from different countries.
Some common concerns that the participants shared about the previous UPR cycles included the focus of civil society organisations on report writing as opposed to lobbying, lack of accessibility to stakeholder reports by diplomats and other concerned citizens and the lack of focus on digital rights and other human rights when making recommendations.
Some of the key takeaways were the toolsbuilt by Data4Change to guide interested parties in creating advocacy strategy plans. These tools help users to not only see what recommendations have been made to their countries of interest, but to also discover and fill the gaps in the recommendations made and which countries would be important to partner with. During this session, all participants were able to make and rate each other’s recommendations to their individual countries with specific attention to digital rights.
There was also a general agreement to increase local stakeholder mobilization, awareness workshops, jointly documenting abuse of digital rights so as to have greater impact and lastly to properly document all our work. At the end of the training, we were all awarded certificates of completion for attending the trainings and completing online courses pertaining to the UPR process.
The next two days marked the official start of the forum, which was open to everyone who had registered to attend. There were several panel sessions occurring simultaneously focusing on different internet issues across Africa. The opening panel was attended by H.E Dr. Getahun Mekuria, the Minister of Information and Technology in Ethiopia who reiterated the government’s plans to liberalize the telecommunications industry in Ethiopia and to reduce cases of shutdowns in a move to increase and improve the citizens’ access to the internet.
Sessions that I was particularly interested in narrowed, their focus to how marginalized and targeted communities interact with technology and some of the solutions they have adapted to their situations.
One such session was on the importance of African feminist movements in improving women’s voices in the digital space as moderated by Rosebell Kagumire, an award-winning blogger and Pan-African feminist . In this session, feminists from across the continent reiterated the ways in which offline patriarchal systems were replicated online against women. One point that resonated with most attendees was that women were still being policed and bullied out of a lot of social apps such as Twitter and most women preferred to be invisible. Cases were brought up on how hypervisible women were facing a lot of challenges.
In addition to this, there was also a celebratory moment when the panelists mentioned some of the movements that succeeded in championing for women’s rights both offline and online some as big and visible as the #TotalShutdownKE that fought against femicide in Kenya and the revolution in Sudan that had women at its forefront and which gained support from across the world. A major gap that was identified in this conversation was the need for building more local movements and having inclusivity within the movement to include women from the LGBTQI community as their online experiences were unidentified despite being equally important.
Another key session was held on technology and disability where persons living with disabilities spoke about how to use ICTs to reduce accessibility barriers. Some of the challenges the panelists included insufficient ICT training, lack of accessibility features on even the most basic layouts of sites and apps, affordability of devices with accessibility features as one of the panelists cited that a mobile phone with accessibility features would cost one $800 which most Africans both abled and disabled cannot afford comfortably.
An Ethiopian Case Studywas used to explain just how crucial and important it was to provide holistic education and inclusive support to people living with disabilities within our communities. Some of the solutions that the panelists offered up to improve accessibility included proper policy implementation and strict punitive measures for those who failed to implement any policies, being intentional by teaching about accessibility features right from software development classes at the college level and putting a cap to funding that requires companies and organizations to provide opportunities for and hire people living with disabilities in their firms and provide ample accessibility features before receiving full funding. There was also a call to create awareness campaigns to make citizens aware of the challenges that a large section of our communities experience and how to develop protection mechanisms for them.
In conclusion, FIFAfrica 19 was a great opportunity to share experiences and solutions to challenges we as Africans seem to be experiencing when it comes to digital rights and internet freedom. In case you weren’t able to join us in Addis for this edition of FIFAfrica, find herethe agenda for the forum, somelive tweets from the event and the report on the State of Internet Freedom in Africaby CIPESA, launched at the forum.