Building Local Online Content Through The Creative Industries in Africa

By Juliet Nanfuka |
The creative industry provides a blend of literature, visual, audio, physical and verbal means through which to communicate complex social issues – increasingly complemented by online tools. In particular, the music industry in Africa is driving the digitalisation of content as it aligns itself with global trends.
There are locally developed apps to cater specifically to African content producers and consumers. Websites such as Fezah (Uganda),Mvelani (Malawi), Mkito (Tanzania) – which also offers a short message service option to source music through feature phones – and Spinlet (Finland, Nigeria, South Africa) are providing unique African music platforms through which content can be easily disseminated. These platforms are creating avenues through which African artists can promote, distribute and monetise their content while also reaching a global audience.
However, the economic potential that the music industry has – and by extension, other creative industries – is often overlooked. According to PriceWaterHouse Coopers, Kenya’s music market generated revenues of US$19.8 million in 2012, up from US$16.5 million in 2008, a figure projected to reach US$20.7 million in 2015. The report also indicated that spending on digital music will overtake physical spending in 2015.
In Nigeria, the music market generated revenues of US$51.3 million in 2012 with forecasts indicating further growth to reach US$53.8 million in 2017. The report further estimates spend on digital music content in Nigeria will rise to an estimated 66.6% of digital’s share of total spending on recorded music by 2017, up from 49.0% in 2012.
But a 2015 British Council report on the music sector in East Africa found that “the impact of digitisation on both music-making and distribution is not fully understood nor is it encompassed by statutory law, with most regulations having been passed before the digital revolution.” This impact purportedly spans beyond music, influencing other areas of the creative industry such as photography, visual arts including painting, graphic and digital design, sculpturepaint, dance and even literature.
Accordingly, last May, East African artists and performers convened in Jinja, Uganda for Doadoa, dubbed an “East African Performing Arts Market”, for a three-day event aimed at providing a platform for East African artists to engage with each other as well as to define the path that the creative industry takes in making itself more financially sustainable. Doadoa echoes the  Festival au Désert in Mali and South Africa’s Moshito festivals which also connect artists from across the continent.
Discussions at DoaDoa explored issues of content creation, music production and commercialisation in a sector that is challenged by limited infrastructure, skills, geographic divides, piracy, and fractured protection of intellectual property. As more East Africans have gone online, so has the amount of content generated for both general and commercial consumption yet it accounts for just a small fraction of the global content available online.
Despite the increased amount of online content produced, there remain few laws applicable to the creative industry and for those in existence, there is limited enforcement. An ArtWatch Africa 2013 report on Monitoring Freedom of Creative Expression noted the limited priority and commitment that African national constitutions have for guaranteeing  freedom of creative expression or cultural rights. As such, there have been reports of abuse and infringements on artists’ rights when their work challenged political, religious and social norms.
For instance, in September 2014, South African artist Brett Baily struck a nerve when his piece, Exhibit B, on exhibition in London challenged racism. Fellow South African activist and photographer Zanele Muholi has also received criticism for her work depicting the brutality that black lesbians face in the hands of their communities. In 2012, a Ugandan play titled “State of the Nation” was cancelled by the Media Council because of its subject matter of corruption and poor governance, while in 2013, Daniel Cecil, a British theatre producer, was deported from Uganda following work on a play that had a gay character.
However, despite the emergence of bills applicable to the creative industry such as Kenya’s National Design Bill 2015 or the East African Community Creative and Cultural Industries Bill, 2014, there remains little explicit mention in the bill of online media as a tool increasingly used in the creation and dissemination of artistic and cultural content. Similarly, there are no legal mechanisms to protect and promote a regional online creative economy.  Kenya however has released their National Design Bill which established the Institute of Designers Kenya. It however limits creative expression to members of the (IDK) thus posing a challenge to creatives without the means to pay the registration fees for membership with the institute. It also makes limited mention of online design content.
As creative content has become pivotal in the digital economy, the need to protect it as a form of expression  is key to its sustainability both online and offline. Creating symbiotic relationships between the artistic community across the continent, online advocacy groups and human rights defenders in pursuit of more locally driven and cohesive advocacy on social issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, data protection and surveillance is key.
Image: Bwette Photography

World Press Freedom: Ugandan Journalists Convened for Digital Security Training

By Juliet Nanfuka |
On May 2, a total of 27 Ugandan journalists were trained in digital security procedures. The training was held in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day (May 3), which this year was celebrated under the theme “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age”.
The training, which was organised by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in partnership with Uganda Journalists Union (UJU) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHARDP), explored the status of journalism in Uganda as well as the legal and regulatory frameworks affecting freedom of expression in the country. Participants at the training workshop represented print, online and broadcast media houses from across Uganda.
During the training, it emerged that some journalists are not cautious about their online security, similar to those in a previous training hosted by CIPESA. The reuse of one password across different websites and platforms, and overexposure of personal information online were common among the training participants. Email encryption, the use of Virtual private networks (VPNs) and Multi Factor Authentication for passwords, were taught as skills that can aid journalists when investigating sensitive stories that may be prone to surveillance.
Norman Katende, an international award winning journalist, shared his experiences of being threatened while reporting on controversial stories and encouraged journalists to practice caution both online and offline. He questioned how journalism can thrive in the face of police attacks on the media, noting that journalists should not compromise on their security when covering sensitive stories just to earn a living.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international organisation that defends the rights of journalists, over the past two decades, 1125 journalists across the world lost their lives while reporting or investigating stories. The medium increasingly used by journalists to source and disseminate information is the internet.
Last month, Somalia journalist Daud Ali Omar and his wife were murdered. The same month, Kenyan journalist Johan Kituyi, proprietor of the newspaper Mirror Weekly, which has covered controversial national issues, was also murdered.
Increasingly, online publishers and bloggers are also coming under attack in Africa. For instance, a year after their arrest, the Ethiopian Zone9 bloggers remain behind bars and in Burundi, civil unrest related to upcoming elections has led to government restrictions of information flow through various media houses – and radio stations.
Such attacks necessitate digital safety skills for journalists. “When you look at the level of knowledge on ICT that a journalist has – it’s really basic. We have several unsecured email accounts and we visit any website without [considering] security,” noted a journalist at the training in Kampala.
Journalists noted that they do not always exercise their rights and do not request security from their media houses when pursuing sensitive stories. They also indicated a lack of awareness of the laws in place that can aid them in developing stories, such as the Access to Information Act (2005), which compels Ministries, Departments and Agencies to release information.
Following a CIPESA presentation on the legal and regulatory frameworks affecting internet freedom, especially freedom of expression online in Uganda, a Soroti-based journalist said the training had made him re-evaluate how he used his mobile phone and the internet, saying that he had been using these tools “without considering their implications.”
Further to the commemoration of World Press Freedom day, CIPESA participated in the “Digital safety for journalists” plenary session of the global event hosted by UNESCO.  CIPESA and its partners in various countries were also involved in a series of Twitter engagements which explored press freedom, including in the digital world, particularly for African journalists.
The training was conducted in the context of CIPESA’s OpenNet Africa initiative that promotes internet freedom in Africa and is supported by the Open Technology Fund, Hivos and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age

Every year, 3 May is a date which celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
Over 100 national celebrations take place each year to commemorate this Day. UNESCO leads the worldwide celebration by identifying the global thematic and organizing the main event in different parts of world every year.
The international day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.
To mark the 2015 World Press Freedom day, UNESCO will lead the global celebration with a main event under the theme “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age”.  The event is co-organized by UNESCO and the Government of Latvia, and will take place from 2-4 May 2015 in Riga, Latvia.
The Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) will be participating in the event represented by Wairagala Wakabi as one of the speakers in the Plenary 3 Session on “Digital Safety for Journalists” on 4 May 2015.  The discussions during this session will be enriched by CIPESA’s experience and expertise, particularly under its OpenNet Africa initiative.
Meanwhile, on May 2, CIPESA will convene journalists in Kampala, Uganda for digital safety training as part of its ongoing online security capacity building efforts for human rights defenders, minority groups, activists and the media in East Africa.

Tanzania Cybercrime Bill Should Safeguard Citizens’ Rights on the Internet

By Juliet Nanfuka |
Tanzania has published a Cybercrime Bill that makes “provisions for criminalizing offences related to computer systems and Information Communication Technologies” and provides for investigation, collection, and use of electronic evidence.
However, the release of the Cybercrime Bill has been met with apprehension by the public due to its overt disregard for press freedom and freedom of expression, the excessive powers granted to police, and the limited protections afforded to ordinary citizens.
On social media, critics have suggested that the timing and content of the Bill were intended to control the media and bloggers ahead of the October 2015 elections. According to the 2014 State of Internet Freedom in Tanzania report, the process of making Cybercrime laws began in 2013 with proposals for the development of the Cyber security Act, Data Protection Act and the Electronic Transacting Act by the end of 2014.
Some of the problematic clauses in the Bill that affect freedom of expression and privacy include Sections 7, 8, 14, 16, 31, 32, 34, 35, 37, 41 and 45.
Section 7 (2) criminalises citizens who receive unauthorized computer data.  There should be consideration of content received with intent and without.
Section 8 and 16 provide vague descriptions of phrases including “unauthorized data” and “false information.” In Section 8, one can be charged with data espionage for obtaining “computer data protected against unauthorized access without permission.” The parameters that define unauthorized data need to be indicated as this could have an impact upon investigative journalists and confidentiality of their sources.
In Section 16, on the Publication of false information, the terms “deceptive, misleading and inaccurate information” are subjective and open to abuse by implementers of the law. A clear definition of what constitutes these terms needs to be stipulated in the bill. Moreover, there should be consideration of  the intent of those who publish such information, failing which the law would ultimately stifle freedom of expression, including of creative expression.
Also the lack of definition for ‘unauthorised data’ in Section 7 (2b) and “unsolicited messages” in Section 30 makes the bill open to misinterpretation and abuse by state authorities.
On the issue of pornography, the Bill should not proscribe the offence of pornography in general, particularly where not shared in public and where all parties that access it are adults. As is currently framed, Section 14 can be used to abuse individuals’ right to privacy. Besides, a clear definition of pornography which is “lascivious” or “obscene” should be added to the Bill.
Sections 31, 32, 33, 34 and 35 of the bill provide excessive powers to the police for search and seizure of computer systems; and disclosure of data. These sections should provide clear guidelines, safeguards and oversight, including the requirement for a warrant issued by a competent court of law before any search and seize or disclosure of data is to be undertaken.
For section 31, owners of the property or other independent parties should also be witness to such activity by the police for the safety of the equipment and data seized to be guaranteed.
According to Section 32 (1), “where disclosure of data is required for purposes of criminal investigation or the prosecution of an offence, a police officer in charge of a police station or a law enforcement officer of a similar rank may issue an order to anyperson in possession of such data compelling him todisclose such data.” This section needs to be adjusted to include police officers first obtaining a court order before compelling any person to disclose data.
On the disclosure of data in Clause 32 (3) b, there should be a clear indication as to the kind and extent of information a service provider can provide. Service providers should be required to report subscriber information requests in the public domain on a regular basis.
Further, there needs to indicate means of storage, retention period and methods of disposal for data collected or recorded through technical means as provided under Section 35 (b).
In regard to Section 37 (9), where service providers are required to support the installation of forensic tools, for purposes of transparency they should be compelled to provide reports of such requests made to them.
Section 41 provides for that  a hosting provider is not liable for information stored at the request of a user of the service, however following orders from any “competent authority” or court, the provider has to take down offending information. The Bill should name the authority or authorities who can issue an order to a hosting provider. The Bill should also indicate what the course of action in the event that a hosting provider does not comply with the order or where the owner of the information wants to contest the take-down order issued by the competent authority.
In regard to “Take down notifications” as provided in Section 45, service providers should notify the persons upon whom a complaint has been lodged, including the reason for the take down.
Also a section compelling service providers to periodically release takedown requests and actions taken to the public should be included.
There is no indication on the rights the users have of their data nor how it is protected once in the hands of the state, thus further putting citizens’ data at risk especially in the absence of a data privacy and protection law.
The Bill was this week tabled in Parliament by Communication, Science and Technology Minister Professor Makame Mbarawa.  However, in their discussions Members of Parliament should consider the amendments proposed by civil society so that the country gets a progressive law that strongly supports freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

Is Kenya Putting the Chill on Internet Freedoms?

By Juliet Nanfuka |
The rights of Kenya’s digital citizens are fast shrinking in the face of new restrictive laws and increased arraignment of individuals for expressing online opinions which authorities deem in breach of the law.
The Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014, assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta last December, allows blanket admissibility in court of electronic messages and digital material regardless of whether it is not in its original form.
It is feared that retrogressive provisions in this law could be used to put the chill on internet freedoms in East Africa’s most connected country where mobile phone penetration stands at 80% and internet access at 50% of the population.
Part V of the new security law regarding “special operations” has raised particular concerns, as it expands the surveillance capabilities of the Kenyan intelligence and law enforcement agencies without sufficient procedural safeguards.
It gives broad powers to the Director General of the National Intelligence Service to authorise any officer of the Service to monitor communications, “obtain any information, material, record, document or thing” and “to take all necessary action, within the law, to preserve national security.”
In addition, the amendments also contain unclear procedural safeguards especially in the interception of communications by “National Security Organs” for the purposes of detecting or disrupting acts of terrorism.
Even though there is a provision for a warrant to be issued by a court of law, the broad definition of ‘national security’ leaves no room for restrictions on the extent of power the law grants to National Intelligence Service when it comes to accessing personal data, information and communications.
In February 2015, the Kenya High Court struck some clauses from the security law. The government says it may appeal.
Government says the new law is necessary to fight al Shabaab militants who have repeatedly rocked the country with fatal attacks such as the Westgate shopping centre attack on September 21, 2013, which left 67 people dead. Human rights activists blame President Kenyatta’s government for steadily shrinking the space for civil actors, a pattern they say was manifested in the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013 and the Media Council Act 2013. These laws, they say, placed restrictions on media freedom and general freedom of expression.
The proposed Cybercrime and Computer related Crimes Bill (2014) also falls short of constitutional guarantees as it is contains “broad” speech offences with potentially chilling effects on free speech. See a full legal analysis of the Bill by Article 19. Proposed regulations to the law governing non-government organisations, which cap the funds received from foreigners at 15% of their overall budgets, have also been criticised as aimed to curtail and control the activities of civic groups engaged in governance and human rights work.
Over the 2012-2013 election period, several individuals were charged in court over their online communications. The National Cohesion and Integration Act of 2008 has been used to charge many for promoting hate speech – which some Kenyan citizens found justifiable given the role that hate speech played in the 2007 to 2008 post-election violence.
Hate Speech is defined by the 2008 Act as speech that is “threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words” with the intention to stir up ethnic hatred or a likelihood that ethnic hatred will be stirred up. Authorities, however, seem to be shifting gear and using this charge among others against online journalists and bloggers that criticise the Kenyatta government.
In December 2014, blogger Robert Alai was arrested and charged with undermining the authority of a public officer contrary to Section 132 of the Penal Code by allegedly calling President Kenyatta an “adolescent president” in a blog. He was again arrested in February 2015 for offending a businessman online by linking him to a land saga that involved the illegal acquisition of the Langata Primary School playground.
Meanwhile, Allan Wadi – a student – was also arrested for “hate speech” and jailed in January 2015 for posting negative comments on Facebook about the president. In the same month, journalist Abraham Mutai was arrested following tweets he posted on corruption in the Isiolo County Government. He was charged with the “misuse of a licensed communication platform to cause anxiety.”
Nancy Mbindalah, an intern with the department of finance at the Embu County Government, was charged on similar grounds for social media posts dating as far back as 2013 in which she is alleged to have abused County Governor Martin Wambora.
In all instances, some social media users claimed there were “selective” arrests and prosecution of those critical of government. Critics cited the case of Moses Kuria, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Gatundu South, who allegedly made remarks on Facebook against the Luo Community but did not face the same punitive actions.
A recent news report, however, indicates that the National Cohesion and Reconciliation Commission and the Public Prosecutor are calling for the MP’s case to be revisited for the “incitement to violence, hate speech and fanning ethnic hatred.”
The incidents of arrest, prosecution and law amendments demonstrate a recurring theme of clamping down on dissenting citizen voices, a concern that was highlighted by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the International Federation for Human Rights following the enactment of the Security Laws (Amendment) Act.
While the country remains on a constant alert for terror attacks, this has been used to strengthen the control that the state has on freedom of expression and surveillance. The lack of laws that limit state access to citizens’ information further exacerbates this concern.