CIPESA, AFIC and Partners Searching for Proposal Writing Consultants

Announcement |

The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) is a leading centre for research and analysis that works to defend and expand the digital civic space to enable the protection and promotion of human rights and to enhance innovation and sustainable development. With a focus on disparate actors including government, the private sector, civil society, media, policy makers and multinational institutions, our work aims to engender a free, open and secure internet that advances rights, livelihoods, and democratic governance. 

Working with the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) who are co-applicants, we are putting together a proposal to a major international funder for consideration of potential partnership on a multi-year project on Freedom of Expression and the Internet in Africa. The proposed partnership would bring together a consortium of seven partners with expertise and vast experience in different facets of digital freedom in various countries on the continent. 


The proposed partnership will work to ensure the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and the Internet in Africa. The specific challenges it responds to include:

I. Data and privacy infringements, including state surveillance against Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), journalists and political dissenters.

II. Disinformation and hate speech. 

III. Online violence against women and girls, trolling and online harassment of women journalists and women HRDs.

IV. Internet disruptions and censorship. 

V. Deficiency of digital security skills and limited understanding of internet freedom by key democracy actors, including HRDs, other activists and journalists.

The consortium is now actively searching for experienced proposal writing consultants with a passion for non-profit work to support the consortium in a collaborative process of developing a compelling final proposal to the international funder. The consultants are expected to put in a few days of work in May or June and some time in July 2023. Each consultant will be engaged for up to 10 days.

We are looking for a lead proposal writer and up to four thematic experts to support the proposal writing process. 

Lead Proposal Writer: The successful candidate must possess demonstrated expertise and experience in writing funding proposals for major international donors. He/she will be in charge of facilitating the proposal writing process, including coordination and consolidation of the submissions from thematic experts, CIPESA, AFIC and partners. He or she will also conduct training at a meeting of prospective project partners, and capture inputs from that consultative meeting.

Gender Expert: The successful candidate must have demonstrated expertise in feminist internet principles, and a keen understanding of how to address online gender-based violence/ violence against women in Africa. He/she will also ensure that the proposal is gender mainstreamed. The gender expert will also attend a planning (and learning) meeting with CIPESA, AFIC and partners (in the second week of May) in Eastern or Southern Africa and deliver a training session at this meeting to develop partner members’ understanding of gender dynamics in internet access, free expression, and online/digital participation.

Monitoring and Evaluation Expert: The successful candidate must possess demonstrated expertise and experience in monitoring and evaluation. He/she will develop the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Plan for the proposal, as well as outcome-impact mapping tools for the project.

Communication Expert: The successful candidate must possess demonstrated expertise and experience in strategic communication. He/she will develop the plan to guide both internal and external communications for the proposed project.

Legal expert: The successful candidate must have legal qualifications and experience working with national and international NGOs. He or she will develop the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the proposed consortium and review the project proposal to ensure that it is in consonance with the MoU and legal obligations in applicable jurisdictions.

All consultants must have:

  • Excellent writing and communication skills, with the ability to develop clear, concise, and compelling proposals.
  • Strong editing skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work under tight deadlines.
  • A deep understanding of the context and challenges of freedom of expression and the Internet in Africa.

Consultants who have demonstrable expertise in more than one of these areas are free to apply for more than one area. If you are interested in working with a passionate team to make real impact in protecting and advancing the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, Internet and digital rights in Africa, kindly send your CV and a cover letter explaining your qualifications and experience, and daily rate, to [email protected] and copy [email protected] by 17.00 East African Time Wednesday May 3, 2023.

Skilling Justice Actors in Digital Rights Advocacy in Africa

CIPESA Staff |

In June, 2022, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) conducted a regional capacity building workshop aimed at equipping participants with thematic understanding of key digital rights trends in the region, including disinformation, alongside practical skills development in impactful digital rights advocacy and communication.

Hosted in Lusaka, Zambia, the two-days workshop (June 28 and 29), attracted 20 participants from 10 African countries – Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

According to Ashnah Kalemera, CIPESA’s Programme Manager, the training was part of various interventions through which, CIPESA is developing the capacity of different social justice organisations with the requisite skills to effectively engage in digital rights advocacy  including research methodology and communications, designing evidence-based advocacy strategies, as well as digital resilience.

“There is limited understanding of digital rights among traditional human rights defenders,  with many yet to make the direct link between technology, social justice and human rights as part of their advocacy efforts. Meanwhile, many are working in hostile environments, with shrinking civic space both online and offline,” said Kalemera. 

Although there has been a growing number of civil society and justice actors responding to and challenging government excesses over the years, there are still knowledge and skills gaps among actors that hinder their  engagement in meaningful policy advocacy. Findings from a 2017 joint research study conducted by CIPESA, Small Media, DefendDefenders, and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) showed that in all of the countries surveyed (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda), civil society organisations (CSOs) failed to demonstrate a baseline of digital security knowledge, and/or failed to implement practices effectively.

The report notes that although the internet and related technologies have empowered CSOs to engage with the public, share information, and advocate for citizens’ rights in sometimes challenging and closed political environments, it has also offered means and tools that are used by state and non-state actors to interfere with their work, surveil them, and censor their voices.

In addition, digital security and safety skills are lacking among some of the most at-risk groups, yet trainers and support networks are in short supply. Without adequate digital security capacity, activists and human rights defenders are not able to meaningfully undertake advocacy and engagements around human rights, transparent and accountable governance.

CIPESA’s capacity building interventions are therefore designed and structured to provide both skills and knowledge modules and serve as a platform for developing collaborative advocacy strategies for advancing digital rights in the region. The training in Lusaka covered topics such as the interplay between technology, democracy and human rights; trends in digital rights violations such as arrests and intimidation of online users, internet blockages, surveillance and interception of communications. 

Other topics covered during the workshop were disinformation and human rights, which explored the implications of false and misleading information on online mobilisation and participation. Elsewhere, the workshop explored digital inclusion, with Zambia-based activist, Matha Chilongoshi of Revolt Media emphasising the need for increased engagement on the digital divide, online violence against women and girls and digital accessibility for persons with disabilities. In this regard, Kamufisa Manchishi, a Lecturer at the Mulungushi University – Zambia noted that the existing  digital disparities are a result of access and affordability barriers including failure by governments to design and implement universal service fund policies that prioritise equity. This calls for proactive efforts in policy influence for an inclusive digital society.

Indeed, as highlighted by Apolo Kakaire, the Advocacy and Communication Manager at the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), “in order for civil society’s work in Africa to impact government policy, help change attitudes and behaviour in society, and ultimately result in greater protections for internet freedom, there is a need to develop and implement robust advocacy and impactful communication strategies.

Post-evaluation of the training workshop indicated increased understanding of the key terms and concepts covered including the link between disinformation and freedom of expression, disinformation and internet shutdowns, and commitment by participants to apply the acquired knowledge and skills, including acting as infomediaries within their communities and organisations through awareness raising among colleagues, and conducting information verification prior to sharing.

“As a communication officer, I will cross-check and make sure that all the information I am sharing is not deceitful while encouraging others to do the same,” noted one participant. Another participant indicated that they would work to get more involved in advocacy regarding disinformation laws that are detrimental to human rights. “We are planning to have a workshop with the grassroots women human rights defenders on disinformation and human rights and develop a digital rights advocacy and communication strategy.” The planned workshop will take place in Kenya’s largest urban informal settlement, Kibera, led by Tunapanda.