Monthly Archives

March 2018

Paradigm Initiative Condemns Internet Shutdown in Sierra Leone

By | Internet Freedom

Based on available evidence, Sierra Leone has, on the night of March 31, 2018,  joined the bad company of African countries resorting to Internet Blackout during elections.  When prior to the elections, the Sierra Leone Information Minister allegedly threatened to shut down the Internet during elections, the government swiftly denied any such plan. Unfortunately, the government has seemingly failed to keep to its word. According to reports from local sources, “The government blocked all internet carriers on elections night while vote counting was ongoing.” The shutdown reportedly lasted for about 9 hours, after an initial one-hour shutdown.

Speaking on the development, Babatunde Okunoye, Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative, “although there are reports that the ACE submarine cable, along the West African coast serving several countries, was cut during this time, we believe this alone does not account for the level of traffic disruption experienced in Sierra Leone, neither does it account for the absence of mobile telephone services. Clearly, something else, something more sinister, was at play in the country.”


Speaking on the development, Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager for Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights work in Anglophone West Africa stated that “Digital Rights are crucial and cannot be overemphasized. Every Sierra Leone citizen is entitled to the freedom to access information online and express thoughts and opinions no matter how unpopular they are. Also, Internet shutdowns have grave economic implication as a lot of small and medium scale business depends on the Internet for their survival”.


Picture Credit: OpenObservatory

“There is no evidence to suggest that Internet Shutdowns are justifiable during elections. What is evident however is that Internet Shutdown makes it easy to compromise the outcome of elections by changing results during manual transmission. We urge the government in Sierra Leone to actively recognize the independence of the nation’s media and the rights of citizens to receive and share information using the digital platform,” Adeboye said.  

Also speaking on the incident, Farida Nabourema, a Human Rights Advocate who was present in Sierra Leone on election day, fumed at how African government tends to copy bad practices more than best practices from one another. “When they see that others can get away with suppressing rights in neighboring countries, they copy and paste it in their own country. Shutting down the internet and all phone carriers on elections night is a wrong move from the government of Sierra Leone especially after requesting that elections results be transferred manually”. How will electoral bodies report incidents?” Nabourema quizzed.

We understand that the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone guarantees several human rights, some of which are the freedom of expression, of conscience, of association, and of privacy. We, therefore, urge the Government of Sierra Leone to not only recognize these rights offline but also online”

We are not unaware of the magnitude of responsibility which the Sierra Leonean Government bears in ensuring the safety and security of its citizens and we also know that technology can be abused. However, depriving citizens of their fundamental rights or oppressing them is never a solution to such fears. We, therefore, urge the Sierra Leonean Government, once again, to truly be democratic in its administration and respect the Digital Rights of her citizens all the time.


For more information on this statement, please send a mail to

Call for Application: Fully-sponsored participation at the 2018 Nigeria Internet Governance Forum

By | DigitalJobs, ICTs

Paradigm Initiative is pleased to announce its fully funded Fellowships to the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum 2018.  

The fellowship is open to all undergraduates in their penultimate year (year before final year), irrespective of field of study.

Selected fellows will be sponsored to attend the 2018 Nigeria Internet Governance Forum in Abuja in July 2018. The fellowship will cover flight, accommodation and per diem.

Selection will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Keen interest in ICT Policy issues in general, and Digital Rights in particular
  2. Willingness to complete a final year project related to Digital Rights, irrespective of field of study and angle (legal, technical, social, etc) of approach to the relevant issues
  3. Availability to travel to — and from Abuja — between July 1 and 4, 2018

Fellows who dedicate their final year thesis to a digital rights issue may also be supported by Paradigm Initiative in their research.  

If you would like to secure one of the five (5) fellowship slots, please do the following:

  1. Record a 3-minute video of yourself speaking on what “Digital Rights” means to you as a young Nigerian.
  2. Upload the video online and share on social media, using the hashtag #NIGF18withPI, and copy @ParadigmHQ
  3. Fill this form and make sure to include the link to your video:


You must complete all three steps above before 12 midnight June 15, 2018, when the competition will end. Please note that applications after this deadline will not be considered.   

Vacancy: Google Policy Fellow, East/Southern Africa

By | DigitalJobs

Advertised Position

Google Policy Fellow, East/Southern Africa


Paradigm Initiative is recruiting to fill a vacant Google Policy Fellow position in the organisation. The Fellow will be working on the Digital Rights Program of Paradigm Initiative, with focus on East and Southern Africa. The fellowship will run for six months from May 2018 to November 2018.

The Fellow will have the opportunity to work at the forefront of debates on digital rights policy, broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and creativity, consumer privacy, open government, government surveillance, data security, data innovation, free expression and more.

The Fellow will lead Paradigm Initiative’s Magoyi (digital rights-focused) program in East and Southern Africa, with a strong focus on communication and advocacy; training; stakeholder engagement; research and publications; and policy.

Line Manager

Director of Programs

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Provide expertise and counseling on regional and global policies in accordance with international best practices in order to ensure maximum output
  • Participate in public hearings of ICT-related policies and ensure contribution/inputs
  • Monitor digital rights violations in the region and work with a team to document, communicate and seek redress for violations, where necessary
  • Fund (and other resources’) mobilization for the Digital Rights program
  • Establish, manage, maintain and review programs and operations
  • Strategically develop key policies that enhance organizational growth and development
  • Engage relevant national, regional and global institutions on digital rights issues for East and Southern Africa
  • Take decisions that promote the organization’s procedural standards
  • Disseminate information on digital rights issues and take initiatives on new trends so as to add value to the organization
  • Consistently review, monitor and evaluate policies that support growth and development
  • Conduct research on policies and procedural standards in order to achieve goals and objectives
  • Manage and maximize team output and performance, where necessary
  • Plan and develop policies that support equity, transparency, and accountability


Qualifications and Skills

  • Degree in Law, Public Policy, Public Administration or relevant body of knowledge along with relevant experience
  • Knowledgeable about digital rights and current policies/trends that promote ICT-related growth and development
  • Experience in policy planning, research, implementation, program monitoring and program evaluation

Key Result Areas

  • Train media, civil society, activists, at-risk citizens, policymakers and relevant stakeholders on digital rights in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Advocate for, and communicate around, digital rights issues in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Engage relevant national, regional and global institutions for digital rights issues in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Promote best practice policy efforts and instruments in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Complete relevant research and publication of timely policy briefs, reports, blogs, articles, etc, for digital rights issues in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Mobilize funds for the Digital Rights program, especially in the East/Southern Africa region
  • Periodic analysis and review of policies, strategies, and procedures
  • Develop and implement policies that enhance the organization’s output and services
  • Undertake other tasks in accordance with job expectations

Application Details

Fill the application here on or before April 15, 2018. Please note that this position is open to only candidates from the East/Southern Africa region.

Vacancy: Program Officer (Election News Fact Checking Project)

By | DigitalJobs

Job Title: Program Officer (Election News Fact Checking Project)

Project Duration: May 1, 2018 – April 30, 2019

As fake news online becomes a serious menace, there is a need for lovers of free speech to combat it before haters of free speech use it as an excuse to curtail citizens’ right to free speech online. To this end, Paradigm Initiative is collaborating with Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism to leverage Dubawa, a fact-checking platform, in debunking fake news and propaganda during the coming election season, thereby ensuring only factual news thrive online and citizens are able to make informed decisions.

Paradigm Initiative, therefore, seeks a Program Officer to manage this crucial project. The Program Officer is responsible for managing partner relationships and overseeing project implementation in its entirety. He/she will also:

  • Manage the project’s narrative reporting, budgets, and  financial reporting
  • Manage a team of volunteers that would work with her/him on the project
  • Work closely with team members to identify and develop new strategic partnerships and activities.
  • Regularly identify fake news with consequence for the 2019 elections and craft well-written, research-based articles to debunk them
  • Use the tools of infographics, short videos, illustrations, etc, to advance the cause of the project
  • Lead the advocacy efforts against fake news  during the 2019 elections
  • Work with traditional and online media outfits to identify fake news and leverage their platforms to neutralize the effect of such fake news
  • Organise events with high profile politicians and policymakers in attendance to address election-related fake news and propaganda
  • Represent Paradigm Initiative on television shows, conferences, events to discuss the project

Who should apply:

  • You enjoy excellent journalism; consuming it and producing it
  • You are concerned about the negative impact of fake news and are ready to do  something about it
  • You love advocacy and have experience running a successful advocacy project, or at least being an important part of it
  • You can and do regularly write, with evidence of your writing on major media platforms
  • You have experience in journalism
  • You have a tested ability to engage in quality research, both desk and field
  • You have a good nose for identifying plain or deodorised bullshit
  • You have a keen eye for details
  • You have experience in managing, developing or supporting programs
  • You have experience developing and managing monitoring and evaluation efforts
  • You have demonstrated interpersonal skills
  • You have excellent communication skills: speaking, writing, and listening.
  • You have an excellent handle on digital tools and social media usage


Interested? Fill the application form on/or before April 15, 2018. Only shortlisted candidates would be contacted for the interview session. The selected qualified candidate will resume immediately.

Director of Administration

By | WorkWithPIN

Job Summary

The Director of Administration oversees the overall daily office operations of Paradigm Initiative including office management, communication, human resources, finance and assets and management of Paradigm Initiative’s administrative staff.

The Director of Administration works to improve processes and policies, manages administrative staff, leads long-term organizational planning especially with its expansion into Africa.


  • Arusha, Tanzania or Lagos/Abuja, Nigeria or Lome, Togo or Lusaka, Zambia or Nairobi, Kenya or Yaounde, Cameroon


  • Management: Oversees the daily operations across offices by providing oversight for the Communications, Finance/Asset and Human Resources teams
  • Administration: Planning and coordinating administrative procedures and systems for the organization especially with ongoing expansion into Africa
  • Strategy: Develop and oversee implementation of the next phase of Paradigm Initiative’s strategic plan with the Executive Director
  • Fundraising: Co-lead fundraising and endowment planning with the Executive Director

 Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Demonstrated management and leadership skills
  • Excellent interpersonal, relationship and team building skills
  • Familiarity with financial and facilities management principles/procedures
  • Flexibility and ability to work on multiple projects at the same time
  • Excellent written and verbal communication, in English and French, and presentation skills
  • Ability to own processes, take initiative, and lead manage corporate change

Education and Experience Requirement

  • Advanced degree in management, business administration or a related field
  • Experience with research, corporate communications, business planning and operations management
  • Human resource management experience, with emphasis on managing change
  • Non-profit or social business experience, of up to 10 years, with at least 3 in a leadership position


  • Commensurate with experience and skills

 How to Apply

Please send your detailed resume and a cover letter to doa (at) paradigmhq (dot) org

Issues in AU Declaration on Internet Governance

By | Uncategorized

By Tope Ogundipe

It is no longer news that the AU Summit held in Kigali in January 2018 has officially adopted the African Union Declaration on Internet Governance. It is not even exactly newsworthy either that the declaration makes some remarkable commitments regarding global concerns for cybersecurity, human rights and freedom of expression. It is expected. What is ironic is this; Heads of State and Government of the African Union… Reaffirming our commitment to the need for stability, for the safety of citizens and enterprises, confidentiality of online data security, through the AU Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection, and taking into account the scalability of Africa’s Internet infrastructure…”

How does it happen that heads of state are able to reaffirm a convention that they have not even ratified? The African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection aims to oblige member states to establish legal frameworks to strengthen the protection of rights related to data and sanction violations of the right to privacy.  It was adopted in June 2014 but it is yet to come into force 4 years on because it has not been ratified by even a single member state. Article 36 of the Convention provides that the Convention will come into force 30 days following the deposit of the 15th instrument of ratification to the Chair of the African Union Commission. Only 8 states have signed the treaty; Benin, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Zambia. But this does not mean several more are not developing laws and standards around electronic transactions, data protection, and cybersecurity. A worrisome trend in the development and adoption of such legislation, however, has been the potential, maybe even the intent in other cases to violate human rights, especially related to freedom of expression, right to privacy and access to information.

Beginning with the Arab spring, the power of the internet to mobilize social activism, especially using the social media, has been demonstrated time and again in Africa. Governments have been responding since then with extreme measures to control the internet. One way this is being achieved is through repressive laws. A Tanzanian data law deals a heavy blow on freedom of expression and access to information, containing a stiff penalty for anyone who publishes data or statistics outside publications by the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics. Egypt’s 2015 Counter-Terrorism law (Article 29) allows sentencing of up to 10 years in prison for creating a social media account that promotes ‘terrorist’ activities or ‘harms national interests.’ Again, under its Telecommunication Regulation law, Internet Service Providers must give full access to all the equipment and software needed for the Armed Forces and national security agencies to exercise their power.

In Nigeria, the Draft Lawful Interception of Communications Regulation by the telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), provides the authorities unconstitutional access to invade citizens’ privacy. Sections 24 of Cybercrimes Act 2015 provides for state regulation and management of the social media and seeks to erode the principles of freedom of expression online in Nigeria. In addition to these, two dangerous bills, both tagged ‘The Hates Speech Bill’ with serious implications for freedom of expression, one of them carrying a death penalty for offenders are currently being considered by the Nigerian parliament.   Act n° 013-2002 of 16 October 2002 has been the primary legal instrument against digital rights in Congo DRC, conferring on government powers to take over control of telecommunications facilities in the interest of national security or public defence. These are only a few examples, but they offer an insight all the same for the emerging patterns of digital rights violations sweeping through the continent such as internet shutdowns, state-sponsored surveillance, and arrest and detention of journalists, bloggers, and online activists and users.

The AU declaration on internet governance or anything else is not legally binding. It does not compel governments to take actions. All the same, it is an aspirational human rights instrument that explicitly encourages respect for freedoms and rights on the internet. By recalling the commitment of Member States to promote and protect fundamental freedoms especially the right to freedom of expression and access to information (on and offline), the declaration offers a hearty hope as a recognized standard on digital rights for the African people.

The declaration offers a chance for inspiring stakeholders, particularly African heads of states and governments to embrace the principles it contains in the exercise of their responsibilities in policy-making. The Declaration can also be used as an instrument to discuss, interpret and resolve matters relating to digital rights. The Declaration recalls the commitment of Member States to uphold human and peoples’ rights enunciated in instruments of the African Union and of the United Nations, recognizing that rights are rights and must be upheld and protected, online and offline. The declaration recognizes the concerns raised by allegations of mass surveillance and violations of the right to privacy in the digital environment and reaffirms the commitments made in UN General Assembly resolutions to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication.

Of numerous human rights instruments which exists, this AU declaration is one of those which clearly lays out the digital rights of Africans. The Declaration can be useful for negotiation and mutual understanding about the online rights and freedoms of the African people. Whether or not it would fulfil this noble mission as a standard to be pursued on the continent in a spirit of partnership with all stakeholders, or it would be yet another missed opportunity for the advancement of human rights on the continent is yet to be seen.


Ogundipe, a digital rights advocate, is Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs. 


Call for Paradigm Initiative Media Fellowship 2018

By | DigitalJobs

Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship is a 5-month program designed to immerse outstanding, early career, journalists in digital rights and digital inclusion advocacy – and intervention efforts – in Africa. Selected journalists will work with Paradigm Initiative on various projects and contribute to improving public understanding of digital rights and inclusion issues.

Components of the Fellowship

  • 2-day Orientation and Digital Rights/Inclusion training
  • 2-week residency at Paradigm Initiative’s offices in Nigeria. The Fellow will spend time at the Yaba HQ, Aba LIFE Centre, Abuja office, Ajegunle LIFE Centre and Kano LIFE Centre
  • 4-month virtual collaboration with Paradigm Initiative
  • Fellowship may also include fully-funded local and international travels to participate in and cover relevant events
  • Interaction with leading stakeholders in digital rights advocacy


  • Fellows will be expected to participate in all scheduled activities
  • Fellows will be expected to publish, in their affiliated newspapers or magazines, at least twelve reports on digital rights and inclusion issues during the fellowship period. Fellows will retain full editorial direction on the stories
  • Fellows will be expected to continue to provide coverage to digital rights and inclusion issues after their fellowship
  • Paradigm Initiative will provide fellows with a monthly stipend, and a one-time research grant, during the fellowship period

Who can apply?

  • The Fellowship is open to journalists affiliated with mainstream print and online newspapers in Africa
  • Interested candidates must demonstrate previous coverage of human rights and/or tech issues and interest in advocacy journalism
  • Interested candidates must not have spent more than ten years in journalism. We are most interested in outstanding, early career journalists

How to apply

Fill the application form here:


Deadline: May 30, 2018.

Fellowship will run from July to December 2018.

Expert Condemns Abuse of Cybercrimes Law to Harass Citizens

By | #PINternetFreedom, Advocacy


A digital rights expert, Tope Ogundipe has condemned the abuse of Nigeria’s Cybercrimes (Prevention etc) Act to harass journalists and other citizens. She was speaking at the Research Methods Workshop for Internet Policy and Advocacy in Kampala Uganda organized by the Internet Policy Observatory at the Annenberg School for Communications, University of Pennsylvania.

Ogundipe, who serves as Director of Programs at the pan-African social enterprise, Paradigm Initiative, led a session on “Cybercrime, Digital Rights and Law Enforcement in Nigeria”.  She traced the origins of Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act 2015 and its current use as the prime tool in the hands of the rich and powerful in Nigeria to facilitate the arrest and harassment of journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens for comments made online.

She noted, “Since the passage of the Cybercrimes Act 2015, there has not been one incident where it has been used to prosecute a real cybercrime case. Instead, it has been used to arrest ordinary citizens for comments made online deemed offensive to the powerful in Nigeria

She also noted, “Journalists, in particular, have been at the receiving end of these arrests using the Cybercrime law because a large number of journalists have been arrested in Nigeria using sections 24 and 38 of the law”.

“Paradigm Initiative, in partnership with Media Rights Agenda and Enough is Enough Nigeria, in response to the use of the Cybercrime legislation in the arrests of citizens have challenged the constitutionality of sections 24 and 38 of the Cybercrimes law in court. The case has been in the courts since 2016. We lost at the court of the first instance and we are now at the Court of Appeal. Strategic litigation could be a long and drawn out process and as such patience and perseverance are required in this endeavour,” Ogundipe submitted.

During the workshop, which held between from February 26 – March 3, over 35 researchers and practitioners from across Africa were gathered at Kabira resort Kampala Uganda for an intense week of study on research methods that underpin Internet policy and advocacy on the continent. The workshop participants were drawn from 16 African countries while the faculty were drawn from within Africa, Europe and the United States.

The Workshop ended with participants asking questions from the session leader, particularly on how best to conduct strategic litigation within their countries.


For more information on this statement, please contact the Communications Officer, Sodiq Alabi on  

Call for Proposals: Mapping and Making Available Evidence-Based Research for Internet Policies in Africa

By | Uncategorized

A coalition of prominent internet rights policy and civil society advocates are pleased to issue this open call for proposals for a consultancy on “Mapping and Making Available Evidence-Based Research for Internet Policies in Africa.

This international Call for Proposals invites submissions from researchers, academics, scholars, and professionals. Successful proposals will help involved organizations to overcome the limited availability and accessibility of evidence-based research regarding internet policies in Africa to nurture public debate and due consideration by policy makers within the region.

The details of this Call for Proposals, including application instructions and timeline, can be downloaded here.

Applications must be submitted by March 25, 2018. Chosen proposal will be announced within April 2018. Requests for clarification and submissions, please send to Alberto Cerda at

This coalition includes Article 19 Eastern Africa, BudgIT, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at Strathmore University (CIPIT), Co-Creation Hub, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), iHub, the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), and Paradigm Initiative, with the support from the Ford Foundation´s Internet Freedom Program.



Monitoring Digital Rights as Sierra Leone and Egypt go to the Polls

By | #PINternetFreedom, ICT Policy

By Babatunde Okunoye

Africa’s many development challenges around the economy, health, security, environment, employment and housing amongst others have for many decades captured the world’s attention. The fragile socio-economic fabric of the continent has resulted in Africa being a major recipient of foreign aid and development grants over the years.

Therefore when it’s election time in Africa, many interests collide as they strive to shape the future of the continent, at least for the time permitted by the term limit of the offices being sought. In Presidential elections, in particular, the stakes are highest because of the tremendous power African Heads of States tend to have to shape the destinies of their countries.

However, it is clear that in recent years, election time in Africa has also become the platform for some of the worst human rights abuses as incumbents strive to hold on to power by all means. Digital rights in Africa have suffered as elections in Africa between 2016 and 2017 have being the setting for Internet shutdowns, blocking of apps such as whatsapp and twitter which citizens use in political mobilizing. Governments across Africa have typically used excuses such restricting fake news and hate speech as a pretext in carrying out information controls around elections, but their real intentions are always plain – suppressing their populations to achieve political advantage.

In March 7 and March 26 – March 28 respectively, the West African nations of Sierra Leone and Egypt in North Africa will conduct Presidential elections in contexts where the incumbents seem inordinately disposed to retain power for self and political party – and as such just the right environment for the blocking/throttling of social media, Internet disruptions, illegal surveillance, clampdown on citizens and journalists as we have witnessed across Africa in recent years. Egypt, in particular, gives the most cause for concern. In addition to implementing one of the most extensive surveillance networks against journalists on the continent, Internet disruptions in the Sinai, authorities in Egypt are currently building a climate of fear where digital rights including freedom of expression and press freedoms cannot thrive.

As these important elections are held in the coming few weeks, Paradigm Initiative will work with partners in the region to monitor the situations in these countries. Alongside the global digital rights community, we are of the firm opinion that access to the Internet should never be disrupted intentionally and those successful elections can be held in Africa without information controls. Elections in Nigeria in 2015 and Ghana in 2016 teach that the Internet can actually become a tool for the successful conduct of elections and the political process in general. This is a lesson we hope can be replicated across Africa.


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