Report Documents A Decade of Internet Freedom in Africa

Announement | The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is proud to announce the launch of its 2023 edition of the State of Internet Freedom in Africa report titled, ‘A Decade of Internet Freedom in Africa: Recounting the Past, Shaping the Future of Internet Freedom in Africa’. This year marks a decade since the first State of Internet Freedom in Africa report was produced. Similarly, it marks a decade of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) which has since 2014 served as the platform for the launch of every State of Internet Freedom in Africa report. 

This special edition honours the efforts of various state and non-state actors in the promotion of internet freedom in Africa. The report takes a deep dive into the dynamic landscape of internet freedom on the African continent and offers contextual information and evidence to inform ICT policymaking and practice, creates awareness on internet freedom issues on the continent, and shapes conversations by digital rights actors across the continent. 

Through a series of essays, authors in this special issue of the report reflect on the past 10 years on the state of Internet freedom in Africa, exploring various thematic issues around digital rights, including surveillance, privacy, censorship, disinformation, infrastructure, access, advocacy, online safety, internet shutdowns, among others. Authors featured in the report include, Admire Mare, Amanda Manyame, Blaise Pascal Andzongo Menyeng, Rima Rouibi, Victor Kapiyo, Felicia Anthonio. Richard Ngamita, Nanjala Nyabola, Professor Bitange Ndemo, Paul Kimumwe, and Edrine Wanyama.

The report maps the way ahead for digital rights in Africa and the role that different stakeholders need to play to realise the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa and Declaration 15 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on leveraging digital technologies to accelerate human progress, bridge the digital divide, and develop knowledge societies.

The report was unveiled at the closing ceremony of the FIFAfrica which this year was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 
Find the full report here.

Centre for Human Rights and CIPESA Conduct Study on Civil Society in the Context of the Digital Age in Africa

By Center for Human Rights and CIPESA |
The study on Civil society in the digital age in Africa: identifying threats and mounting pushbacks was undertaken by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) to explore the extent of state-sponsored digital challenges that the civil society in Africa is faced with. It illustrates the challenges faced by civil society organisations and the importance of digital security measures.
Considering the digital threats contributing to the shrinking civic space on the continent, the study highlights the international and regional framework governing the activities of civil society. It further maps the national legislative and policy threats against civil society in selected African countries: Egypt, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. The study shows how these digital threats not only limit the operations and existence of civic society but also impede the enjoyment of human rights such as the freedoms of association, assembly and the right to freedom of expression.
Based on the findings of the study, it is argued that civil society organisations are significant players in the democratic development and protection and promotion of human rights and thus, their operations and rights should be safeguarded. The study, therefore, calls on African governments to respect their obligations under international human rights law and adopt measures that enable civil society to perform their mandate in promoting good governance, accountability and respect of human rights on the continent, especially in the context of the digital age. The study also recommends the civil society to devise methods of countering digital threats. This could be done through the development and implementation of human rights-sensitive organisational data protection, digital security policies and enhanced organisational understanding of how they can harness digital technologies for digital security purposes. Further, the study encourages the private sector and funders to support and complement the efforts by the civil society in advancing digital rights and opening up the civic space.

Civil society in the digital age in Africa: identifying threats and mounting pushbacks


Civil society in the digital age in Africa identifying threats and mounting pushbacks

This report documents the threats to civil society in the digital age by examining the legislative and regulatory framework, as well as state action in four countries in Africa: Egypt, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. The recommendations emanating from the research call for the states to revise and repeal identified restrictive laws and align them with international standards.
Download the full study here.

ICT in Governance in Kenya – Policies and Practice

In November 2014, internet statistics source Socialbakers estimated that there were 3.6 million Kenyans on Facebook, with 64% of them male and 36% female. The majority of Facebook users (75%) were aged 18-34 years. As of September 2015, the Kenyan Twitter account with the highest number of followers was @UKenyatta, the Kenyan President’s account that had over one million followers, followed by @ntvkenya with 979,838 followers.”

This report reviews government and non-government Information and Communication Technology (ICT) initiatives in Kenya, and examines how ICT-related policies and other legislation affect citizen participation and democratic governance. Among others, the study covers the link between ICT and political participation, social accountability, public services delivery and citizen engagement. The report is based on policy analysis,
stakeholder interviews and literature review, and aims to inform awareness raising initiatives and advocacy for more progressive policies and practices regarding the use of ICT in governance and civic participation in Kenya.

Analysis of ICT in Governance Policies and Practice in Uganda

In our research series this month, we review government and non-government ICT initiatives in Uganda. We examine how ICT-related policies and other legislation affect citizen participation, democratic governance and influence the link between ICT and public services delivery.
The report is based on policy analysis, stakeholder interviews and literature review, and aims to inform awareness raising initiatives and advocacy for more progressive policies and practices regarding the use of ICT in governance and civic participation in Uganda.
Read the full report

Citizens’ Use of ICTs in Social Accountability in Uganda’s Kasese District

By Ashnah Kalemera
The eSociety Resource Centre Kasese is a community centre hosted by the Kasese district local government in Western Uganda. It acts as a one stop point for local government officials and community members to access various Information Communication and Technology (ICT) tools and services. The centre provides ICT training programmes, hosts an information library, runs an online discussion group, maintains a news blog and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). These are all aimed at enhancing citizens’ competence in monitoring government services, promoting accountability, civic participation and good governance in Kasese District.
Since 2011, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) has provided support to the centre, including computer equipment, internet subscription, centre maintenance and support to an ICT training officer. The support is in the context of CIPESA’s project which seeks to promote citizens’ use of ICTs for improved governance partly through grassroots public ICT access centres. The other partner centres in the project are the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) and the Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative (BROSDI).
The eSociety centre hosts an average of 250 users per month, mainly local citizens, journalists and local government officials. CIPESA has offered media and district officials training  in citizen journalism, geocoding methodology and data collection, information access and dissemination.
During the course of the CIPESA-eSociety partnership in 2014, we conducted a poll survey amongst a random selection of the centre users to assess their capacity and proficiency in demanding for better services, and participation in governance processes.
The results of the poll survey
On the frequency of internet access through mobile (phone and tablet), and desktop/laptop computer at home, work, internet café or the eSociety Centre 34% indicated daily use of the internet and 33% weekly.
When queried on the frequency of using ICTs to engage with leaders, 28% of respondents said they contacted their local leaders at least once a week, while 22% contacted them daily. Another 22% admitted to never contacting their local leaders.
Discussing a governance/service delivery issue was the reason most people (77%) contacted their local leaders. Second was following up on election manifestos (16%). Only 11% contacted their leaders to request for district budget information.
Email was the most commonly used means of contacting leaders at 72%. None of the respondents used text messages to contact their leaders despite widespread mobile phone ownership. Also, with an increasing number of people, including leaders, using social media, the platform was only used by 11% of respondents to contact leaders.
Table 1: ICT tools used to contact local leaders

Tool Yes No
Sending an email 72% 28%
Using social media (Facebook, Twitter) 11% 89%
Telephone call 50% 50%
Text message 0 100%
Other Physically/ Word of mouth

For 89% of respondents, drugs shortages in local hospitals/health centres was the most pressing community need. This was followed by corruption and poor road infrastructure.
 Table 2: Pressing service delivery issues in Kasese district

Issue Percentage of respondents
Drugs shortages in hospitals/health centres 89%
Corrupt officials 83%
Poor state of roads 83%
Lack of clean water 78%
Poor state of hospitals (facilities and standards) 72%
Low staff levels (doctors and teachers) 72%
Poor state of schools (facilities) 67%

Challenges to using ICTs
The most widely cited challenge to the use of ICT tools in accessing service delivery information in the local community was the high cost of accessing and using tools – cited by 78% of survey participants. Another common challenge was the lack of immediate feedback  from the responsible officials (17%). Other challenges cited by respondents included unreliable electricity supply, poor network coverage (voice and data), and the long distances that citizens have to travel to access ICT centres/services.
The poll results indicate a good level of citizen engagement and awareness of service delivery issues in Kasese District. They further show that free ICT services provision for the centre’s users has enhanced service delivery monitoring and citizen participation in governance through ICTs in Kasese district. However, there remains need to continue identifying emerging ICT participative practices and needs at the centre, and building citizens’ capacity to effectively engage with their leaders for improved service delivery and governance. There is also the need for more leaders to more proactively engage with the ICT tools that citizens are increasingly utilising to reach them.
CIPESA’s iParticipate Uganda project is part  of the ICT4Democracy in East Africa Network which is supported by the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (Spider) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
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