A Partnership to Advance Digital Rights and Internet Development in Africa

By Israel Nyoh |

The Internet Society and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) recently signed an agreement to work together for an open, secure, and trustworthy Internet for Africa.

A digital revolution is transforming markets and societies across Africa. Digitalization is helping governments to generate more income, while enabling e-commerce, e-health, and automation, which is strengthening African economies. But, as is often the case, with each technological promise there is also a threat. Because many African countries grapple with digital literacy and security challenges, digital technologies are being used to foster cyber criminality and cyber surveillance, while governments sometimes deny citizens their digital rights.

The agreement commits the Internet Society and CIPESA to advancing progressive Internet policy, advocating for the Internet way of networking, encryption, and measuring the health of digital infrastructure in the region.

Actions that promote a “trustworthy Internet to every African are of critical importance for the digital transformation plans that many African countries are implementing,” says Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President for Africa, Internet Society.

The two organizations have further committed to:

  • Share knowledge, ideas, and lessons learned in Internet policy, encryption, and the Internet way of networking in Africa.
  • Pool efforts and expertise in responding to Internet policy issues in Africa.
  • Undertake joint research and stakeholder engagements, and lead advocacy on critical Internet policy and Internet development issues in the region.

CIPESA has a history of advocating for digital rights and building capacity on digital security in Africa, mostly through research, stakeholder engagements, and knowledge sharing. This agreement with the Internet Society will strengthen CIPESA’s efforts while enabling it to also reach new constituencies in Africa.

Wairagala Wakabi, Executive Director of CIPESA, says, “The key to meaningfully promoting digital rights and Internet development in Africa lies in multi-sector partnerships that leverage varied expertise, address the critical and emerging issues, and steadily reach wider constituencies of multiple stakeholders.”

History of Collaboration

The Internet Society and CIPESA have been working together for close to a decade to advance digital rights in Africa.

Their work has focused on strengthening the development of personal data protection guidelines for Africa, fighting against Internet shutdown and restrictions, and growing the community of people advancing digital rights and Internet development in Africa, through the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica).

This article was first published by the Internet Society on August 19, 2021.

2012 Uganda National IGF Report

The report of the 5th Uganda Internet Governance Forum organised by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in conjuction with the Uganda National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U) and the Internet Society Chapter Uganda is available for download here.

Bridging Africa’s Internet Trade Deficit: The 2012 Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum

By Dr. Dawit Bekele, The Internet Society
With Africa importing almost 99% of its Internet traffic and with a consumer base of over 139 Million Internet users, the continent is facing what is known as an Internet Traffic Trade deficit or Transit deficit.
While similar to what was experienced in Europe and the United States during the late 1990s, African businesses and end-users also pay the high cost of local infrastructure. For example: Moving information from Johannesburg to London costs less than moving traffic from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
A scenario that not only stops local innovation and impedes economic growth, but it’s one that’s replicated across the entire continent.
But there are solutions.
Bringing people together via a forum for technical training, exchange of information, and networking can do so much.
AfPIF 2012 is this year’s key event for African businesses, policy makers and technical leaders. Taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 22-24 August, and organized by the Internet Society, AfPIF will bring together an incredible mix of local technical experts, policy and decision makers, and businesses to be part of the solution to Africa’s interconnection challenges.
Our theme this year is “Regional Interconnection: Addressing Africa’s Internet Transit Deficit.”
The event is structured to help build national and cross-border interconnection opportunities by providing a forum where key players from infrastructure and service providers, IXPs, regulators and policy makers can engage in a relaxed but business-like environment. It’s all about sharing experiences and learning from experts in the field.
AfPIF is designed to:

  • Promote the establishment of new, and the growth of existing, Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) through building community co-operation and demonstrating the value of local, regional, and national interconnection.
  • Bridge the information asymmetry with respect to Peering and Transit economics. The peering and transit fundamentals enable the development of interconnection relationships and strategies for operators at the local, regional and global levels.

AfPIF’s 2012 Programme and speakers will address specifics such as:

  • Peering and Transit Economics
  • How to peer and What’s in it for You
  • Peering and Negotiation Strategies for Operators and Tools and Tricks of the Trade
  • The Role Submarine Cables Could Play in the Interconnection of Africa’s Internet
  • Terrestrial Capacity from Cape Town to Cairo: Reality or Illusion
  • Exploring the Content Business in AfricaTransition of National IXPs to Regional IXPs and the Local Content Formula

What else does AfPIF do?
It Builds Most Critical Internet Resource Of All: People
AfPIF is a link in a chain of important Internet technical community efforts to strengthen one of the most important critical Internet resources: People.
It is through informed and trained professionals that lasting networks are built. Since 1992, the Internet Society has trained local experts around the world to achieve our goal of an open, accessible, and reliable Internet in emerging economies that is on par with the rest of the world. It is through partnering with stakeholders like – AfriNIC, AfNOG, the African Union, governments, companies – that we bring locally trained experts to support and sustain technical infrastructure around the world.
I would encourage anyone who’s a small or big business, policy or decision maker, local technical expert to come to AfPIF 2012. You can register in person or follow us online (LINK)
By “linking” people together we can find the solutions to an interconnected Africa.