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.

Register for the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (#FIFAfrica23)!

By FIFAfrica |

Are you passionate about internet freedom and digital rights in Africa? Do you want to engage with and join the community advancing digital rights in Africa? Register to attend the upcoming 2023 edition of the  Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica23) and join a diverse community of stakeholders from across the continent and beyond to deliberate on the most pressing issues and opportunities for advancing online freedom. Registration is open for both in-person and remote attendance! 

FIFAfrica23 will take place in Dar es Salam, Tanzania on September 26-27 (pre-events by invitation only) and September 28-29 (main conference), 2023, hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with the Tanzanian Ministry of Information, Communications and Information Technology. The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam.

The Forum will mark a decade of bringing together policy makers, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, law enforcement representatives, media, and other actors to deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities for promoting privacy, free expression, non-discrimination, free flow of information and innovation online.

The FIFAfrica23 agenda will feature 10 tracks on a diversity of topics emerging from successful submissions to a recent open call for sessions.  The tracks include carefully curated panels, presentations, lightning talks, keynote addresses and workshops, through which participants at the Forum will have the opportunity to delve into the deeper layers of the digital rights and internet freedom landscape in Africa and collaborative interventions to address the challenges and harness the opportunities of a more open and inclusive internet in Africa.

You can register here and also take note of the event Code of Conduct and Travel note which includes logistical information.

Don’t miss this chance to be part of this landmark event and contribute to advancing internet freedom in Africa!

Be sure to follow @cipesaug on social media and join the online conversation using the hashtags #FIFAfrica23 #InternetFreedomAfrica.

Tanzania Ministry of ICT to Co-Host the 2023 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa

Announcement |

The Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology of the United Republic of Tanzania has announced that it will co-host the 2023 edition of Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica23). The move is in line with the country’s digital transformation and wider digitalisation efforts.  

“We are pleased to support such an important event in Africa. In recent years, we have steadily worked at enhancing our digital transformation through the Tanzania Digital Economy Framework to enhance our capacities within the government and for the citizens of Tanzania to enjoy digital services. We value this opportunity to showcase our commitment to promoting internet access in the country and the region. As a Ministry, we have made significant strides in expanding internet access and are committed to ensuring that the internet is a safe and enabling space for all users, especially women, youth, and marginalised groups,” stated Hon. Nape Nnauye, the Minister of Information, Communication and Information Technology.

An initiative of the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), FIFAfrica is the largest and most influential gathering on technology’s role in driving socio-economic and political development in Africa. It brings together policymakers, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, law enforcement representatives, media, and other stakeholders from across Africa and beyond to discuss the most pressing issues and opportunities for advancing privacy, free expression, inclusion, free flow of information, civic participation, and innovation online.

The government of Tanzania, joins those of Ethiopia (2019) and Zambia (2022), as well as the Slovenia Presidency of the European Union (2021), in partnering with CIPESA to co-host FIFAfrica. Scheduled to take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, September 27-29, 2023, the Forum, now in its 10th year, will feature diverse voices and perspectives through carefully curated sessions (training workshops, alliance meetings, panel discussions, exhibitions and lightning talks) which emerged from a public call

“We are pleased to co-host FIFAfrica23 alongside the Tanzania Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology. This partnership is a testament to the shared vision and commitment of CIPESA and the Government of Tanzania to promote an open and inclusive internet in Africa,” said Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, CIPESA’s Executive Director.

CIPESA announced that its decision to host FIFAfrica in Tanzania is in recognition of the country’s progressive shift to advance digitalisation for sustainable development. Under the leadership of its first female President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, a proponent for civil rights and women’s rights, the country has undergone political and legal reforms aimed at enhancing civic space and the digitalisation agenda. Notably, a data protection law has been enacted, the law governing media operations is being revised, and the  Online Content Regulations 2020 were revised to make them more supportive of online speech, privacy and access to information.

The Forum has previously been held in Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zambia and South Africa. As a platform for unpacking challenges and developing collaborative responses, hosting FIFAfrica in different countries opens up the space for experience sharing, learning and exchange, but also gives life to the CIPESA’s commitment to ensuring broader regional representation and deepening dialogue across the continent.
FIFAfrica23 will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro and is expected to assemble at least 400 participants from across the continent and beyond. Follow @cipesaug on social media for updates. Use the hashtags #FIFAfrica23 and #InternetFreedomAfrica to share your vision for digital rights in Africa.

Smell The Coffee Kenya, Disinformation Is Brewing!

By CIPESA Writer |

Just over a year ago, Kenya was in the midst of a bitterly contested general election held in August 2022. The electoral period was characterised by hate speech and disinformation, which remain prevalent today. Indeed, recent studies have highlighted a booming disinformation industry in the country, fuelled by political, economic and personal interests with many actors including politicians, content creators, and citizens churning out hate speech and disinformation on social media platforms. 

During the election period, disinformation and hate speech circulated widely as social media personalities and ordinary citizens on various sides of the political divide coordinated and shared inciteful and hateful content. Influencers with a large following on the platforms are often bankrolled by politicians to recruit and coordinate micro-influencers to develop common disinformation and hate narratives and push hashtags which often trend on social media. Further, social media trolls engage through Facebook posts, tweets and WhatsApp groups with targeted hate against ethnic communities such as the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Luo, the ethnic communities of current president William Ruto, former president Uhuru Kenyatta, and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, respectively. 

Amidst the election-related disinformation blitz, social media platforms seemed to do either too little or nothing to stop the spread of harmful and illegal content. An investigation by Global Witness and Foxglove in June 2022 showed that Facebook failed to detect inflammatory and violent hate speech ads posted on its platforms in Swahili and English. Further, the investigation found that even after putting out a statement in July 2022 on its efforts to combat harmful content, including 37,000 pieces of Kenyan content removed from Facebook and Instagram for violating its hate speech policies, similar hate speech ads were later approved on their platforms. 

Likewise, in July 2022 Twitter was blamed by local actors for profiting from its negligence by allowing its trending topic section to be exploited through paid influencers to amplify malicious, coordinated, inauthentic attacks to silence Kenya’s civil society, muddy their reputations and stifle the reach of their messaging. In September 2021, Twitter suspended 100 accounts from Kenya for violating the platform’s manipulations and spam policy after being found to have been tweeting pre-determined hashtags meant to misinform the public and attack certain personalities. In June 2022, the company suspended 41 accounts promoting the hashtag #ChebukatiCannotBeTrusted, which suggested that the then Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was supporting one of the presidential candidates. 

TikTok, which has gained popularity among younger audiences, has also come under scrutiny after disinformation and hate content was found on its platform ahead of the August 2022 election. A study by Mozilla found 132 videos that had been viewed collectively over four million times, which were spreading hate speech and inciting violence against some ethnic communities. Some also featured synthetic and manipulated content couched as Netflix documentaries, news stories and fake opinion polls or fake tweets aimed at triggering violence, fear and violence as was witnessed during the 2007 post-election period. According to the report, TikTok suffered context bias and its content moderation practices were not robust enough to tackle the spread of such content on its platform. TikTok has since removed the videos highlighted in the report. 

According to Kenya’s hate speech watchdog, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), hate speech content is most prevalent on Facebook and Twitter. In July 2022, the NCIC ordered Meta to address hate speech and incitement on its Facebook platform within a week or face a suspension of its operations in the country. In August 2022, the Commission also found an increase in hate content on TikTok. Some of the hate and disinformation hashtags it identified on the various platforms included #RejectRailaOdinga, #Riggagy and #RutoMalizaUfungwe, which propagated falsehoods against candidates in the presidential election.

Some critics have argued that social media platforms have shown a consistent failure to adequately moderate content in Kenya. Furthermore, the platforms’ attempts at content moderation are implemented in a lacklustre, under-funded and opaque system that is neither participatory nor rights-respecting. Other studies have also shown that platforms continue to inconsistently enforce their own rules through flawed content moderation practices and in essence permit the spread of extreme, divisive and polarising content partly due to their lack of understanding of Kenya’s cultural context and local languages and slang.

The government’s attempts at legislating on disinformation and hate speech have not been without setbacks. In 2018, the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018 was adopted, imposing punitive fines and prison terms on the publication of false information and false, misleading and fictitious data. Unfortunately, these provisions have been unjustly used to target bloggers for exposing corruption or seeking state accountability. 

A case by the Bloggers Association of Kenya challenging the constitutionality of the law remains pending an appeal of the decision by the High Court in February 2020 allowing the enforcement of the law. Section 13 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act constricts the definition of hate speech to “ethnic hatred” and fails to capture the constitutional limitations under Article 31, which include propaganda for war, incitement to violence, hate speech, and advocacy of hatred. This means various hate speech content remains lawful in the absence of a clear criminal prohibition.

Moreover, the NCIC, which was formed following the 2007 post-election violence, has been plagued by numerous challenges in its attempt to fight hate and promote peace and national cohesion. The commission for most of its active life has been underfunded, thus hindering its ability and capacity to monitor hate speech online, investigate incidents and conduct public awareness and engagements. Further, political interference with its work means that it has been incapable of enforcing the law to get successful convictions of offenders who are mostly the political elite

More importantly, successive government administrations have failed to implement the recommendations of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report to address the drivers of hate and disinformation. The report identified those drivers as Kenya’s historical inter-ethnic tensions that are systemic and deep-rooted in its social, cultural, religious, economic and political fabric. Disinformation and hate speech in Kenya thrive on these unresolved historical tensions around political ideology, ethnicity, economics, and demography.  

Today, a majority of social media users in Kenya are aware of and fuel hate speech and disinformation on social media. To some, it is all fun and games, as they assume no feelings get hurt. To many, however, disinformation triggers pain, fear, tension and hate. Last year, a local politician advised Kenyans to put matters of politics in their lungs, not their hearts. This attitude is also a problem, as such views may breed a level of acceptance and normalisation of disinformation and hate speech in the country by encouraging people to grow a ‘thick skin’ instead of objectively addressing the root causes of the vice. People, including Kenyans, are known to act on their feelings. As we have seen in neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan, hate speech and disinformation can drive violence with devastating consequences. 

The failure to resolve Kenya’s underlying tensions means the country risks further social division and fragmentation of society as well as diminished progress due to a continuation of governance policies and practices that further entrench discrimination and exclusion in accessing opportunities, resources and essential services. The hate that arises from the effects of such policies and practices, and the disinformation deployed to justify and perpetuate them, affects people’s mental health and emotional well-being. Moreover, they cement long-held historical fears, suspicions and animosity that continue to undermine the ability of Kenyans to trust each other or the government and could inhibit the willingness of sections of the public to cooperate in nation-building for the common good. 

Be that as it may, there are some promising efforts, such as the recently launched local coalition on freedom of expression and content moderation and the draft guidelines for regulating digital platforms spearheaded by UNESCO that seek to promote engagement and tackle content that potentially damages human rights and democracy. The multistakeholder coalition is an initiative of UNESCO and ARTICLE 19 that aims to bridge the gap between local stakeholders and social media companies and to improve content moderation practices, including supporting regulatory reform, building the capacity of state and non-state actors, and raising awareness on the ethical use of digital platforms. While these twin initiatives are new and largely untested, they present an opportunity to ensure more rights-respecting content moderation practices, the application of common norms based on human rights standards and stronger multistakeholder engagement in the content moderation process.

Finally, it may be easy to blame social media companies for the weaknesses in their content moderation systems, and by all means they need to be held to account. However, better algorithms alone cannot fix our society or our social norms. Kenyans must wake up and smell the coffee. Leaders need to drop the divisive acts and work together with stakeholders and citizens to address historical tensions and foster a culture of inclusion, tolerance, respect and understanding. While at it, they should promote responsible social media use, fact-checking, and media literacy in order to counter the negative impact of hate speech and disinformation and ultimately build a more just, harmonious, democratic and equitable society.

Gear Up! The 2023 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) is Heading to Tanzania!

Announcement |

The annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will be held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania on September 27-29, 2023. This year will mark a decade of the largest gathering on internet freedom in Africa, which has since 2014 put internet freedom on the agenda of key actors including African policy makers, platform operators, telcos, regulators, human rights defenders, academia, law enforcement representatives, and the media. This has paved the way for broader work on advancing digital rights in Africa and promoting the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.

In several African countries, it is becoming increasingly challenging to utilise the internet to defend human rights, strengthen independent media, support democratisation, and demand accountable and transparent governance, or to freely access information and contribute content in the diversity of African languages. This is undermining the core principle of the internet as a free and open platform. 

The decision to host the 2023 edition of FIFAfrica in Tanzania is in recognition of the country’s progressive shift to advance digitalisation for sustainable development. Under the leadership of its first female President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, a proponent for civil rights and women’s rights, the country has undergone political and legal reforms aimed at enhancing civic space and digitalisation agenda. Notably, a data protection law has been enacted, the law governing media operations is being revised, and the  Online Content Regulations 2020 were revised to make them more supportive of online speech, privacy and access to information. 

It is upon this backdrop that FIFAfrica 2023 will offer a platform for critical engagement of diverse stakeholders in identifying the most pressing internet rights-related issues and challenges that have to be addressed at national and regional levels. Over the years, FIFAfrica has identified opportunities for bringing the debate on the importance of digital rights to national, regional and global fora. In particular, the Forum supports the development of substantive inputs to inform a wide range of conversations at organisational, national, regional, continental and global levels, including at the African Union, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the United Nations Human Rights Council, the African Internet Governance Forum (IGF), sub-regional IGFs and at the global IGF.

The growth in diversity of participants and discussions at FIFAfrica reflects the evolving trends and concerns in access and usage of the internet and related technologies.  Topics have included access to information, mass surveillance, turning policy into action, internet shutdowns, content regulation, cyber security, digital economy, online violence against women, data protection and privacy, cyber governance, open source investigative journalism, online movement building and civic building, business and big data, building research capacity in internet measurements, innovation and security in conflict territories, as well as gender-sensitive approaches to ICT Policy and decision making. 

Overall, FIFAfrica is helping to grow the community advancing digital rights in Africa, increasing awareness about and advocacy for internet freedom, while forging new alliances that advance digital rights. It elevates new voices including those of often marginalised groups such as the youth, persons with disabilities and women, and enables state and non-state actors to develop evidence-based interventions that guide policy and practice

FIFAfrica has previously been hosted in Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and Zambia, with the last edition attended by up to 1,000 individuals (online and offline) from 47 countries.
A call for proposals and travel support applications will be announced soon. For updates, follow CIPESA social media (@cipesaug) accounts  on Twitter,Facebook and LinkedIn.

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