Media Training on Disability and Digital Rights in Africa

Call for Applications |

In the lead up to the International Disability Day, on December 3, 2021, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is inviting journalists from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda to apply for a two-day media training on Disability and Digital Rights in Africa. The virtual training will take place over two full days on December, 1-2, 2021.


Although the East African region has experienced considerable growth in the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), persons with disabilities in the region still face difficulties in accessing and using  these technologies and thus continue to miss out on the benefits that they bring. According to national census data, the percentage of persons with disabilities in Tanzania is 8% of the total population, 3.5% in Kenya, and 14% in Uganda.

A study on ICT Accessibility Barriers for Persons with Disabilities, found that while Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have enacted various laws and policies to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, including those on access to and use of ICT, these have largely remained on paper with key provisions not being implemented. As a result, a large section of persons with disabilities continue to face digital exclusion.

The situation is exacerbated by the high cost of assistive technologies, low literacy levels among persons with disabilities, and lack of investments in supportive infrastructure by public and private entities.

Many of the obstacles and challenges faced by persons with disabilities in accessing information, education and employment can be mitigated through equitable access to ICT. To achieve this, several stakeholders, including the media, policy makers, regulators and ICT service providers must take decisive steps in terms of the development, production, cost and availability of certain requirements and equipment and creating an enabling environment for the promotion and respect of ICT accessibility rights for persons with disabilities. For media in particular, there is need for investigate and highlight digital exclusion challenges faced by persons with disabilities; provide a platform and voice for persons with disability; through their reporting, hold duty bearers accountable for any violations of digital rights of persons with disability; and offer their news and other programmes in accessible  formats, especially the broadcast and online platforms.

Purpose of the Workshop

The workshop will equip the participants with the requisite knowledge and skills  to effectively report about  the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and contribute towards promoting digital accessibility through fair, accurate, and enterprise coverage  on persons with disabilities.

Topics to be covered will include:

  • Laws and Policies on Disability and ICT
  • Key ICT and Disability Rights Issues in East Africa
  • Disability and Technology – Facts and Myths
  • The Media and Digital Rights for Persons with Disability
  • Checklist for Media Coverage of ICT and Disability

CIPESA will cover participants’ internet connectivity costs.

If interested, please fill this application Form by  November 20, 2021

Successful applicants will be notified on November 26, 2021

Will Our Human Rights and Freedoms and a Free and Open Internet be the Next Victims of Cybercrime?

Manifesto Launch |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has joined civil society organisations and industry in a rally against the potential threat of cybercrime on human rights and freedoms as well as the open internet.

Day-by-day the effects of cybercrime continue to get worse. Although something clearly needs to be done, there is growing concern that any efforts to tackle this modern scourge come at the expense of fundamental human rights and that they threaten the open and free internet.

As countries are considering their input to the United Nations ahead of the scheduled January negotiations on a Cybercrime Convention, the CyberPeace Institute and the Cybersecurity Tech Accord have brought together a range of stakeholders to publish the Multistakeholder Manifesto on Cybercrime. The principles outlined in the Manifesto should be at the heart of any cybercrime legislation and to guide the negotiating process.

The Manifesto is supported by over 50 members of civil society, industry organizations (such as the Center for Democracy and Technology, World Wide Web Foundation, Cyber Threat Alliance, and Derechos Digitales) and individuals. Signatories to the Manifesto want to also ensure that any cybercrime convention preserves and upholds basic human rights and freedoms guaranteed under existing international UN and other treaties.

“Today, industry and civil society are coming together through a Multi-Stakeholder Manifesto on Cybercrime which provides a set of principles to guide governments in their negotiations at the United Nations” says Klara Jordan, Chief Policy Officer at the CyberPeace Institute. 

In the build up to the convention negotiations, this Manifesto is an urgent appeal to all UN member states, UN agencies, and others involved in the current process, to address concerns regarding the draft and align their submissions with the Manifesto.

The Manifesto also highlights the importance of ensuring cybercrime perpetrators are held accountable for their actions: “In an area as opaque as cyberspace, public-private partnerships are often an indispensable tool to gain insights into evolving cyber threats and those behind them,” said Annalaura Gallo, Head of Secretariat, Cybersecurity Tech Accord. “A new Cybercrime Convention should establish clear mechanisms for states to reduce the operating space for criminals,” added Annalaura Gallo

The Manifesto also tackles the challenges inherent in the current UN process, in particular the lack of multistakeholder participation. “We are concerned about the lack of consultation, inclusion and involvement of stakeholders from across civil society and industry”, said Klara Jordan, adding: “The participation of civil society entities is crucial to ensure that the impact of these crimes on society is properly taken into account.” “The technology industry is ready to offer its expertise and input to UN states in the upcoming negotiations on cybercrime. We hope that our input will be sought more consistently than has been the case in the past in discussions involving the security of our internet ecosystem,” emphasized Annalaura Gallo.


About the CyberPeace Institute: Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the CyberPeace Institute is a nongovernmental organization whose mission is to reduce the harms from cyberattacks on people’s lives worldwide, provide assistance to vulnerable communities and call for responsible cyber behaviour, accountability and cyberpeace.

About the Cybersecurity Tech Accord: The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is a coalition of over 150 technology companies committed to advancing peace and security in cyberspace. The group’s mission revolves around four foundational principles: strong defense, no offense, capacity building and collective response.

Silencing Critical Voices: Our Online Civic Space is Shrinking

By Digital Shelter |

Somalia had recorded steady growth in telephone penetration – with 7.6 mobile subscribers. However, internet penetration remains low – 2% as at 2017, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The adoption of technology has expanded civic space in the post conflict era, with social media platforms and blogs empowering journalists, activists and human rights defenders to document and report human abuses, mobilize public opinioncampaign for reforms, share relevant content and information, and build networks at national and global level.

However, the past three years have seen a rise in threats against online freedom of expression, such as the arrest and intimidation of several journalists and social media campaigners for comments posted on social media. There are reports of dissenting social media accounts being hacked, while others have deactivated their accounts due to fear of attacks. A culture of censorship prevails, amidst a rise in sponsored trolls spreading misinformation and propaganda to counter factual narrative reported by journalists, human rights defenders and activists online.

It is against this background that Digital Shelter hosted a panel discussion on the shrinking online civic space in Somalia and the growing digital threats faced by media professionals, bloggers and human right defenders in the digital space on February 13, 2020. The event was part of series of activities under the theme “Protect our Online Space”, supported by the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) – an initiative of the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Among the panelists was Mohamed Irbad, a prominent blogger and researcher known for his critical writings on governance, human rights, freedom of expression and censorship on social media platforms. In early 2019, after publishing an article titled “Media Censorship In Somalia: A Nation Risk Into Information Darkness” on his personal blog, Mohamed faced serious online and physical threats which forced him to flee the country for six months due to fear for his safety.
“All critical voices, particularly individuals who are based inside Somalia have been silenced with online and physical threats altogether. For instance, when your raise critical issue on Twitter or Facebook you have two options, you either end up battling with anonymous trolls in their hundreds by answering to their toxic comments or you feel intimidated and sacred of writing about certain issues, hence, your remain silenced . And that is exactly what happened to me after writing that article. And therefore, it is fair to stay that we are witnessing the worst shrinking of our online/offline civic and democratic spaces” Mohamed Irbad.
Also speaking at the event was Hassan Ali Osman, a journalist, with the New Humanitarian newsletter. Hassan actively uses Twitter to disseminate local and international news as it breaks for his 90,000 followers. He shared that he has been constantly attacked by trolls merely because of reporting the truth on social media platforms.
Highlighting the issue of online violence against women was Sucdi Dahir Diriye, a passionate community volunteer and member of CaawiWalaal loosely translated as “HelpYourBrother” –  a digital campaign launched three years ago to support local communities affected by droughts in Somalia. As in most of the world, the internet has provided a platform for Somali women to amplify their voices. However, it has also enabled perpetuation of different forms of online violence against women including harassment, doxing, threats, stalking and blackmail, sometimes leading to physical violence. The targets of these attacks are women that are vocal on issues such as gender equality, sexual violence, free expression, or challenging the patriarchal structure of the society. This has created a hostile online environment for women and girls in Somalia, fraught with shaming, intimidation and degrading, leading to withdraw of from the online space.
As part of her work, Sucdi documents cases of online blackmailing and extortion against young girls in Mogadishu and other regions of Somalia. She stated that limited recognition of the existence of online violence and harassment against women in Somalia is allowing the abuse to continue inexorably. Relevant policies to address online violence against women need to be put in place and more women and girls need to be skilled in digital safety and security.
Based on their personal and professional experiences, the panelists stressed the need for counter measures against the prevailing threats. Among the recommendations made was increased digital security skills and knowledge building among activists, bloggers and media professionals. Specialized training on gendered online harassment was encouraged. Panelists also emphasized a dual approach in voice amplification – online and offline to reach wider audiences.  Furthermore, more stakeholder dialogue to raise awareness on online civic space and digital rights, including data protection and privacy inline with Somalia’s growing technology sector. Other recommendations included research undertakings on current digital threats in Somalia, to inform advocacy and policy interventions; and establishment of a solidarity network to support victims of online attacks.
“Digital Shelter is proud to be in a unique position to amplify voices in the most difficult time where the online civic space is shrinking in Somalia”, said Abdifatah, co-founder of Digital Shelter in the closing remarks of the forum.
Digital Shelter continues its “Protect our Online Space” drive during March 2020 with series of trainings on digital security. Digital Shelter is also planning to host other forums on expanding online civic space in Somalia.

This article was first published by the Digital Shelter on March 04, 2020

Call For Proposals: Operations, Strategic Communication and Capacity Building Support for the African Internet Rights Alliance (AIRA)

Call for Proposals |
The African Internet Rights Alliance (AIRA) – an alliance of ten civil society organizations based in Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal – are pleased to issue this open call for proposals for a consultancy to support the operation, strategic planning and communications capacity building of the Alliance. Members of the Alliance agree to work in collaboration with each other to advance a positive environment around Digital Rights on the African continent within the next three to five years.
Further information on the call can be found here.

State of Internet Freedom in Africa 2018 Report Focuses on Privacy and Data Protection

FIFAfrica18 |
For the fifth year in a row, the Collaboration on International ICT policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has produced a research report on the State of Internet Freedom in Africa, with the 2018 edition focusing on privacy and data protection on the continent. The report was launched at the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), which took place in Accra, Ghana, at the end of September and can be found here.

While the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is fast growing in Africa, there are several challenges related to privacy and data protection. According to the GSMA, at the end of 2017 Sub-Saharan Africa had over 444 million mobile subscribers representing a 44% penetration rate, while the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) reports that 21.8% of individuals in the continent use the internet. However, as more users come online, many remain unaware of how their privacy rights could be affected by their use of digital technologies.
The report tracks key trends and challenges in recent years that have shaped this area of internet governance and use in the continent.
The report points out that  the state of personal data protection tends to mirror – and to affect – the state of internet freedom in a country. It notes that various African countries are witnessing worrying developments on the internet freedom front including an increase in digital rights violations such as arrests and intimidation of online users, internet blockages and social media shutdowns, and a proliferation of laws and regulations that undermine internet access and affordability, and weaken ICT’s potential to improve livelihoods, catalyse free expression and civic participation.
The countries studied are Burundi, the DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Findings indicate that many states are legitimising and increasing their surveillance capacity, including by requiring mandatory registration of personal details and increasingly compelling service providers to hand over users’ data. The surveillance is often not guided by judicial or other independent oversight, and in some instances there is no clarity as to which individuals and government departments have the authority to order surveillance or demand customers’ meta data from telecom companies.
This means that many government departments make such orders to the operators, who do not have the latitude to reject such requests. Telecom and ISPs are required by law to comply with information requests or requests for surveillance assistance, including the common requirement to install software with the technical capacity to conduct surveillance and to enable active communications monitoring, and to hand over data when asked.
In all countries reviewed, these requests are kept secret so it is difficult to establish the full extent of government requests for users’ data, the surveillance of citizens’ communications, and censorship of content. What is clear though, is that the trend is on the increase, and the types of user’s’ information which governments request is varied.
Additionally, a common trend in the countries studied, as well as around Africa, is the adoption of mandatory SIM card registration which requires that subscribers furnish telecom companies with extensive personal details, including names, home addresses and their National Identification details. In the absence of comprehensive privacy and data protection laws (and accompanying practice by government agencies and telcos that robustly protects such data), this data is at tremendous risk of abuse by state and non-state actors.
Despite the constitutions of numerous countries containing provisions that uphold the protection of the rights to privacy, of the 13 countries studied, only Ghana and Senegal have comprehensive privacy and data protection laws. The lack of a comprehensive standalone policy or legislation to protect the right to privacy and data protection was identified as a major weakness, since the provisions were fragmented and contained in various laws and policies, and did not adequately provide for protection of the right.  Some countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda have data protection bills but the proposed laws have for years failed to progress through their parliaments.
The report noted the low levels of public awareness about privacy and data protection, with many citizens tending to be indifferent to privacy and data protection issues. This low level of awareness among the public of privacy issues in the digital environment, a lack of transparency by data controllers, insufficient procedural guarantees, and limited independent oversight over the implementation of privacy and data protection, mirrors many other facets of the internet governance arena, and negatively impacts users’ digital rights. In turn, efforts to promote strong privacy and data protection regimes should go in tandem with multi-stakeholder efforts to advance broader internet freedoms in Africa.
See the full report which includes the various African Instruments on Privacy and Personal Data Protection, data collection programmes by governments, legal responsibilities of business entities as well as recommendations to the state, civil society, academia, the tech community and civil society.

1 2 3 7