FIFAfrica22 : Appel à Propositions, Les Inscriptions Sont Ouvertes

FIFAfrica22 |

Les inscriptions sont désormais ouvertes pour la neuvième édition du Forum sur la Liberté d’Internet en Afrique (FIFAfrica22). Le Forum qui se tiendra à Lusaka en Zambie du 26 au 29 septembre 2022, offre une plate-forme de discussion sur les lacunes et les opportunités pour faire avancer la confidentialité, la liberté d’expression, l’inclusion, la libre circulation de l’information, la participation civique et l’innovation en ligne.

Pour l’inscription, nous sollicitons des propositions de session, notamment des tables rondes, des discussions éclairées, des expositions et des ateliers de compétences pour façonner l’agenda de FIFAfrica22.

CIPESA reconnaît que la liberté sur Internet a de multiples facettes, et comme il est essentiel d’avoir une multiplicité de parties prenantes travaillant conjointement, il est également nécessaire d’avoir une diversité de voix, d’expériences, de points de vue et d’ancrages thématiques de ceux qui participent à FIFAfrica. Pour cela, il y a un financement limité pour soutenir les voyages de participation à FIFAfrica22. La préférence sera accordée aux candidats qui peuvent partiellement prendre en charge leur présence.

Veuillez noter ci-dessous les dates importantes liées à la participation à FIFAfrica22. Les soumissions se terminent à 18h00 (heure de l’Afrique de l’Est) aux dates indiquées :

  • Les propositions de session seront acceptées jusqu’au 29 juillet 2022
  • Les demandes d’aide au voyage seront acceptées jusqu’au 29 juillet 2022
  • Les propositions de session retenues et les candidats à l’aide au voyage seront directement informés d’ici le 31 août 2022
  • L’inscription pour y participer se terminera le 5 septembre 2022.

Le formulaire d’inscription et de proposition de session est accessible ici.

NOTE : Toutes les données collectées dans le cadre de l’exercice d’inscription et de proposition de session ne seront utilisées qu’aux fins de la gestion de l’événement FIFAfrica.

Suivez @cipesaug sur Twitter et sur le site dédié de FIFAfrica pour des mises à jour régulières sur le Forum.

FIFAfrica22: Call for Proposals, Registration Now Open

FIFAFRICA2022 | Registration is now open for the ninth edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica22). The Forum, which is set to take place in Lusaka, Zambia on September 26-29, 2022, offers a platform for deliberation on gaps and opportunities for advancing privacy, free expression, inclusion, free flow of information, civic participation, and innovation online.

As part of the registration, we invite session proposals including panel discussions, lightning talks, exhibitions, and skills workshops to shape the agenda for FIFAfrica22.

CIPESA recognises that internet freedom is multi-faceted, and just like it is essential to have a multiplicity of stakeholders working jointly, it also requires diversity in the voices, backgrounds, viewpoints, and thematic work areas of those that attend FIFAfrica. In line with this, there is limited funding to support travel for participation at FIFAfrica22. Preference will be given to applicants who can partially support their attendance.

Please note the important dates below related to participation at FIFAfrica22. Submissions close at 18.00 (East Africa Time) on the stated dates:

  • Session proposals will be accepted till July 29, 2022
  • Applications for travel support will be accepted till July 29, 2022
  • Successful session proposals and travel support applicants will be directly notified by August 31, 2022.
  • Registration to attend will close on September 5, 2022.

The registration and session proposal form can be accessed here.

NOTE: All data collected as part of the registration and session proposal exercise will only be used for purposes of the FIFAfrica event management.

Follow @cipesaug on Twitter and on the dedicated FIFAfrica website for regular updates on the Forum.

Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) 2022 set to take place in Lusaka, Zambia

Announcement |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is pleased to announce the return to a physical event of the ninth edition of the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica22). The landmark event, which convenes a spectrum of stakeholders from across the internet governance and digital rights arenas in Africa and beyond, will take place in Lusaka, Zambia, from September 26-29, 2022.

This will be the first time since 2019  that FIFAfrica is held physically. In the shadow of COVID-19, the 2020 and 2021 editions of FIFAfrica took on a hybrid approach. The return to a physical event is a response to the global success in controlling the spread of the coronavirus and the resultant lifting of restrictions by various countries.

Furthermore, returning to the physical mode is in recognition of the technical challenges inherent in virtual and hybrid approaches, and their common failure to offer an equivalent level of networking, engagement with key actors such as policymakers, and a platform for engaged capacity building, to physical interactions. Previous physical editions of FIFAfrica were hosted in Kampala, Uganda; Johannesburg, South Africa; Accra, Ghana; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Hosting the first in-person FIFAfrica in the aftermath of COVID-19 in Zambia is in recognition of the country’s pivotal role in Africa’s decolonisation and democratisation, as well as its efforts to advance digital transformation for sustainable development. Zambia has for long been a bastion of stability characterised by regular elections and peaceful transfer of power. Further, the country has traditionally been a peace broker on the continent and host of anti-colonial movements. Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, was a founding member of the Mulungushi Club, a formation of newly-independent African states to push for the total liberation of the continent. The club was a strong building block for regional integration.

As of 2021, there were an estimated 20 million mobile subscriptions and 10 million mobile internet subscriptions in Zambia, representing penetration rates of 110% and 50% respectively. The government through the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), is undertaking various initiatives to boost internet access and affordable usage in various sectors. Zambia has a data protection and privacy law and as of May 2022, is among the 13 countries to have ratified the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection.

Though recent years have seen some regression, Zambia still ranks highly on freedom and governance relative to most regional countries. For instance, on the Democracy Index, Zambia is ranked as a hybrid regime (only seven African countries are ranked better as full or flawed democracies, while 23 countries are categorised as authoritarian). On Freedom in the World and Freedom on the Net indices, it is categorised as partly free, whereas a large number of African countries are categorised as not free.

The previous government restricted access to some online media, arrested some journalists and opposition leaders over their posts on social media, mostly on allegations of defaming former President Edgar Lungu, and reportedly conducted mass surveillance. During the 2021 elections that ejected President Lungu from power, Zambia joined the league of countries that initiated network disruptions. Zambia’s new government, which won elections in August 2021, put a break to the regressive streak under President Lungu, yet the new reformist president has himself hit a few hitches.

At a time when the continent is experiencing a worrying regression in democracy, Zambia thus presents a vantage point to take stock of the state of digital rights and digital democracy and to build solidarity and partnerships among key stakeholders so as to advance human rights online, especially the rights to access to information, privacy and freedom of expression on the continent.

Over the course of four days, the FIFAfrica22 agenda will feature panels, workshops, exhibitions, and presentations. All interactions will maintain and observe national COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Registration and call for session proposals will open later this month. For the latest on the Forum, follow @cipesaug. The event hashtags are #FIFAfrica22 and #InternetFreedomAfrica.

How Digital Activism Is Helping African Languages Be Part of a Multilingual Web

By Evelyn Lirri |

The United Nations declared 2022-2032 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, with the hope of creating a pathway for promoting mainstream linguistic diversity and multilingualism, including in the digital sphere. Currently, there are an estimated 7,000 languages and dialects in the world, of which only 10 dominate the internet ecosystem. Many indigenous, minority and low-resourced languages are excluded from the benefits and opportunities of the digital world.

Main Languages of the internet: English, Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian/Malaysian, French, Japanese, Russian and German. 

Across Africa, language digital activists are now playing a pro-active role in advocating for a multilingual web that aims to ensure that the information available on the internet is as diverse as the languages that exist on the continent. Using a do-it-yourself approach, language activists are making use of a variety of digital tools to tweet, localise software, create audiovisual materials and contribute to Wikimedia projects in their mother languages.

At the eighth edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa 2021 (FIFAfrica21), held on September 28-30, 2021, language activists promoting the isiZulu, Dagbani, Ibo and Gã languages were part of a panel discussion where they shared insights on the initiatives they are undertaking to  promote African languages on the internet. 

In Ghana, Sadik Shahadu, co-founder of the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group, is spearheading a project to increase visibility of the Dagbani language on the internet. Dagbani is spoken by approximately three million people in the north of Ghana, including some two million indigenous speakers. To-date, 4,000 Dagbani words have been recorded and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons. The team works with language experts to ensure correct spellings and to verify the meanings of the words. 

Shahadu hopes to be able to create a platform with digital dictionary words that will be usable and freely available to Dagbani speakers. “We are looking for ways not just to improve the language on the internet. We realised we can leverage on platforms such as Wikimedia to create articles and build tools that are going to support our work,” said Shahadu.

In Nigeria, Blossom Ozurumba is working with the Igbo Wikimedians User Group to promote Igbo language and culture. “We started off as a few women that came together to improve the presence of notable Igbo women on Wikipedia,” says Ozurumba. 

Despite Igbo being one of the most widely spoken languages in Nigeria – with an estimated 34 million speakers – there was dismal information on women on the Igbo Wikimedia platform compared to what was on the English platform. 

It is critical that languages and cultures of African people get amplified on different digital platforms as a way of preserving them and making online content more accessible and relevant to African audiences. Currently, the internet is constructed to suit the interests of the dominant language groups found online, thus excluding some communities from online representation and discourse. However, this linguistic gap is an extension of existing offline language inclusion gaps.

South African Siya Masuku, a writer and illustrator in indigenous languages, has been promoting isiZulu through illustrated alphabet books and comics that target primary school age children. “I came up with the idea after learning that books coming into primary schools were not in the children’s mother tongue and the pictures did not represent them,” explains the founder of Siyafunda online. Masuku developed an illustrated book called Siyafunda in isiZulu, with the isiZulu alphabet.

In Ghana, activists are turning to schools to promote the implementation of mother tongue-based bilingual education in policy and classrooms with the hope that this extends into online spaces.  Mama Adjetey-Nii Owoo, founder and lead researcher at Afroliteracies Foundation, a think tank for indigenous African Languages, has developed bi-lingual e-learning resources and curriculum materials, e-books and instruction books for use in primary schools with their flagship programme based on Akan, the most widely spoken language in Ghana.

Globally, there are over four billion active internet users, with the dominant languages of communication being European and Asian languages in addition to Arabic. This, according to advocates of inclusion, creates an unfair realm in the digital sphere.

During a  session that focused on linguistic and cultural diversity as an integral digital right, the role that language plays in enabling expression and engagement in online spaces was highlighted. Wilhelmina Ndapewa Onyothi Nekoto, a natural language processing (NLP) researcher, stressed that language is an important aspect of freedom of speech. Nekoto is currently part of an open source NLP project called Masakhane, that is aimed at addressing native African languages representation online. 

Despite the numerous positive initiatives, there remain various challenges to creating digital resources in more African languages. These range from some languages not being supported by keyboards, absence of android support, through to volunteers not having the necessary devices such as computers for contributing or editing content on platforms such as Wikimedia. Further, financial constraints hinder the growth of more African native languages online. As Ozurumba noted, one of the pressing challenges for the Igbo Wikimedians User Group is the struggle to retain editors as much of the work is done on a voluntary basis.

Putting Digital Inclusion Data into Practice

By Prudence Nyamishana |

Trends in global digitalisation have seen strides in the use of technology as an enabler for economic growth, public discourse, service delivery, transparency and accountability, access to education and public health. However, alongside these advancements, there has remained a persistent digital access gap that predominantly affects Sub-Saharan Africa.

Further, it appears that even for those countries in the region with high levels of access to digital technologies, there remain inconsistencies at national level, including in policy formulation and practice, and the business ethics and human rights of mobile network operators, which potentially exacerbate digital exclusion.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), global 4G coverage stood at 84% in comparison to 44% in Africa  – the lowest across all regions. 

In 2020, four of Africa’s leading digital companies (Safaricom, Jumia, MTN, and Naspers) were ranked and scored on digital inclusion by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA)‘s Digital Inclusion Benchmark. These companies have business footprints in more than numerous countries in Africa.

The Digital Inclusion Benchmark results showed that commitment and contribution towards digital inclusion are highly uneven across industries in the digital sector. Clear and consistent support to improve digital skills is needed, especially for vulnerable and underrepresented groups.

These results echoed similar sentiment in the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) Access Denied report, which showed that several telecom companies in Sub-Saharan Africa have failed to meet their obligations to provide information and services to persons with disabilities.

Both the WBA Benchmark and the CIPESA report call for adjustments to how business should be conducted, with a higher priority placed on the often digitally excluded and underrepresented communities such as women and persons with disabilities.

As such, in June 2021, the WBA and CIPESA hosted a roundtable with stakeholders committed to advancing digital inclusion in the region. Additionally, the roundtable sought to help foster coordinated multi-stakeholder actions on digital inclusion that can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Watch the Africa RoundTable on Digital Inclusion

Speaking at the roundtable, Andrew Rugege, the Africa regional director for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), noted that Covid-19 had laid bare the realities that underpin global economics and made it evident that broadband and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) play a critical role in daily lives for the overall growth of national economies.

However, Michael Minges, a WBA Research Analyst, highlighted gaps in current internet access policy and structures that affect national economics and also impact digital inclusion and access. He pointed out the issue of scale, noting that many African countries have not yet built up their internet markets to make them attractive for international investors.

Onica Makwakwa, Head of Africa at the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), highlighted the role that state policies and regulations have to play in enabling digital access. She stated: “We need to have policies and regulations that make this [internet access] universal … It requires intentional actions.”

The shift from data to action was stressed by Lourdes Montenegro, the WBA Lead on Digital Sector Transformation, who noted that the data emerging from research initiatives such as by the WBA and CIPESA triggers thinking on what public policy actions are needed, including by think tanks and governments that need to work towards addressing digital inclusion gaps with evidence-backed data.

Indeed, narratives from the roundtable discussion including the need for more stakeholder collaborations were carried through to the September 2021 CIPESA-hosted Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa 2021 (FIFAfrica). Digital inclusion was one of the themes at FIFAfrica21, and multiple sessions at the Forum entailed discussion on why digital inclusion should be attained including for the benefit of increased public participation, countering misinformation, fighting online violence against women, supporting progressive online movements, and encouraging online diversity especially from the Global South. Thus, as the data in support of digital inclusion grows, so does the need to put this data into practice in policy formation, business strategy and digital rights advocacy.

Watch the different sessions from the Forum.