Why Tanzania for the 2023 Edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa? 

By CIPESA Writer |

The tenth edition of the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica23) is just under ten days away. The Collaboration in International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will this year alongside the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology of the United Republic of Tanzania host this special edition of FIFAfrica23 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This is in line with the country’s progressive shift to advance digitalisation for sustainable development. 

As at December 2022, Tanzania had over 60 million phone subscriptions, translating into a penetration rate of 98%, an estimated 31.1 million internet connections, and 40.9 million registered mobile money accounts. The national Development Plan and Tanzania Development Vision 2025 prioritise the digital economy and outline various intervention areas for accelerating broadband penetration, access, innovation, eServices and local content development, among others. Further, the National ICT Policy, 2016 recognises that ICT is central to social and economic transformation. 

Tanzania outperforms many other African countries in developing locally relevant mobile content and applications, including content in local languages. Tanzania was among the six African countries eligible to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at its launch back in 2011. Whereas the country later withdrew from the Partnership, its OGP Action Plans drawn up at the time, reflected Tanzania’s commitment to the four pillars of transparency, accountability, citizens’ participation, and technology and innovation. Indeed, among the reasons cited for the withdrawal from the OGP was its membership of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) whose objectives were similar to those of the OGP.

Notable government initiatives include the Tanzania National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) and the Universal Communications Service Access Fund (UCSAF) through which connectivity and infrastructure has been extended countrywide including in key sectors – education, health and gender equality. The Digital Tanzania Programme is also underway with  the aim to ​​”increase access to affordable, high quality internet services for government, businesses and citizens, and to improve the governments’ capacity to deliver digital public services”with three components: the Digital Ecosystem, Digital Connectivity, and Digital Government Platform and services. Meanwhile, the Data Protection and Privacy Bill tabled in 2014  was passed in November 2022.

Nonetheless, there have been concerns including a culture of secrecy among government officials, the cease of live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings and disruptions to social media and online communication platforms. There has also been problematic legislation such as the restrictions on access to information under Statistics Act of 2015 as amended; mandatory registration and accreditation of journalists as well as harsh penalties under the  Media Services Act, 2016;  and the Cybercrimes Act, 2015, which criminalises offences related to computer systems and ICT.

According to the Global Connectivity Index of 2020, Tanzania is ranked 78 out of 79 countries in internet affordability. The high cost of access locks several Tanzanians out of the digital society.  In July 2021, Tanzania introduced a new airtime levy which users pay to telecom operators as they top-up airtime. The airtime tax, together with a 17% excise duty, 18% Value Added Tax (VAT) and a levy on mobile money transactions pose significant threats to the country’s progress in digital and financial inclusion. 

Under the leadership of its first female President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, a proponent for civil rights and women’s rights,has undergone reforms aimed at enhancing the country’s civic space and digitalisation agenda. Notably, proposals to amend the Online Content Regulations 2020 which entrenched the licensing and taxation of bloggers, online discussion forums, radio and television webcasters, and repressed online speech, privacy and access to information. The amendments contain various  positive elements such as removal of some ambiguous specification of obligations of service providers, the reduction of licensing fees, annual and renewal fees, and certainty of definitions of  “online media content services” and “online content aggregators”.

The amendments also relieved internet café operators from a number of obligations, including installation of surveillance cameras; assignment of static public IP addresses to all computers used; keeping of proper service user register; and having mechanisms to filter access to prohibited contents which were hard for café operators to comply with. However, the regulations maintained that mainstream media licensees still require an Online Media Services Licence for simulcasting or re-publication of content through the internet.

As Tanzania navigates a path towards positioning itself as a progressive state, it presents a unique opportunity for learning and engagement on the future of technology in Africa for economic growth, civic participation, meaningful connectivity and human rights.

The main Forum event takes place on 28-29 September 2023 and is preceded by a series invite-only pre-events (26-27 September 2023) which entail workshops, trainings and strategic meetings.  See the event agenda and speakers!

CIPESA Joins International Initiative to Develop “AI Charter in Media”

By CIPESA Writer |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has joined a conglomeration of  international organisations and experts to develop a charter aimed at guiding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the media. 

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSJ), the group that is coordinating the development of the Charter, 16 partner organisations, as well as 31 media, AI and academic professionals representing 18 different nationalities, are involved in the process. The CIPESA Executive Director, Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, is among the experts on the committee that is led by journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa.

The RSJ stated that the growing interest in the project highlights the real need to clearly and collaboratively develop an ethical framework to safeguard information integrity, at a time when generative AI and other algorithm-based technologies are being rapidly deployed in the news and information sphere.

Part of the committee’s responsibility is to develop a set of principles, rights, and obligations for information professionals regarding the use of AI-based systems, by the end of 2023. This is a response to the realisation that the rapid deployment of AI in the media industry presents a major threat to information integrity.

See here details about the initiative, the partner organisations and experts.

Call for Applications: Digital Rights Hub for African CSOs

Announcement |

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) in conjunction with the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is pleased to invite applications from representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), lawyers and human rights defenders (HRDs) interested in pursuing collective advocacy strategies to address and respond to current and emerging threats to digital freedoms in Africa.

Successful applicants will constitute a “Dights Rights Hub” – a community of practice and strategic platform that will bring together traditional CSOs, lawyers and HRDs from across Africa to actively advance an enabling digital civic space on the continent.

The Hub will aim to; (i) promote enabling legal and policy frameworks governing digital rights at the national or local level, including through pushing back against current and emerging legislative threats/restrictions; and (ii) enhance civil society’s ability to exercise digital rights through targeted awareness creation and capacity building initiatives, research, strategic litigation, and engagement with multilateral mechanisms at the regional and international level.
ICNL and CIPESA will hold the pilot Digital Rights Hub training on September 26-27,
2023, in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

Read here for further details.

Job Opportunities at CIPESA

Announcement |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)  is in a phase of dynamic growth and we are actively seeking exceptional individuals to join our team. We are excited to announce three job opportunities, and the application window remains open until September 12, 2023. To explore further, simply click on the role that resonates most with you: 

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.