Monthly Archives

July 2018

Campaign in Support of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill

By | Uncategorized

Dear Friend,

It has been four months since Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedom Bill (HB490) was passed by the Senate, following passage by the House of Representatives. We are worried that since the passage in March, the National Assembly is yet to transmit the Bill to the President for assent. Many Bills passed after HB490 have been transmitted to the president for his assent.

We are embarking on a campaign to encourage the national assembly leadership to expedite actions on the transmission of the Bill. The campaign would be run on social media daily until the Bill is transmitted to the President.  The 2019 elections are months away and we would love to see the Bill signed into law before the election fever takes over.

We would really appreciate it if you could join the campaign and use the tweet draft below. The tweets can also be converted to Facebook and Instagram posts.

Pictures for Campaign: Here you can find infographics that explain the provision of the Bill. Please use and share at will.

Tweet draft

  • The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill #HB490 was passed by @NGRSenate on March 13, 2018. The Bill was earlier passed by the @HouseNGR in December 2017. 4 Months after passage, the Bill is yet to be transmitted to the @NGRPresident for assent.#DigitalRightsBill #HB490
  • The delay in transmitting the Bill to the Presidency is unnerving as it is unnecessary. The @nassnigeria, led by @bukolasaraki and @yakubdogara, must complete the amazing work it started by ensuring the Bill is sent to the President immediately. #DigitalRightsBill  #HB490
  • The Bill provides for the protection of human rights online, protect internet users from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and guarantee the application of human rights for digital platform users. #DigitalRightsBill #HB490 @nassnigeria @bukolasaraki @yakubdogara
  • The bill seeks to guarantee human rights within the context of emerging innovative technologies, security concerns, increasing citizen participation in governance and democratic processes.   #DigitalRightsBill #HB490 @nassnigeria @bukolasaraki @yakubdogara,
  • The bill is a potpourri of conventional rights aimed at making online spaces rights-inclusive and is an attempt at balancing the friction between security and human rights in the digital age.           #DigitalRightsBill #HB490 @nassnigeria @bukolasaraki and @yakubdogara,
  • The Digital Rights & Freedom bill strengthens users’ trust & has been lauded as a step in the right direction because of the value it brings to the digital economy and the rights of people of  Nigeria.  #DigitalRightsBill #HB490 @nassnigeria @bukolasaraki @yakubdogara
  • As the world looks up to @NGRPresident, @MBuhari to sign the #DigitalRightsBill, we call on Senate President @bukolasaraki & House Speaker @yakubdogara to ensure the immediate transmission of this most important Bill to President @MBuhari. #DigitalRightsBill #HB490


Kindly forward this email to others who you think might add value to the campaign.


Thank you for your anticipated support. The Bill got to where it is, thanks to the unwavering efforts of active citizens and civil society players like you. We believe the same efforts can see the Bill to the finishing line. Let’s do this together!

Bloggers, Rights Advocates Deplore Bloggers’ License Fee

By | Advocacy, ICT Policy

Tanzanian bloggers and digital rights advocates have condemned the recently introduced license fee for bloggers in the country. They made this call at a dinner organized by Paradigm Initiative in collaboration with  Article 19 and HIVOS  in Dar es Salam, Tanzania. Attendees at the July 9 dinner included a pool of local bloggers, lawyers, civil society organizations, the Dutch embassy, technical community, and media.


According to Wathagi Ndungu, Paradigm Initiative’s Google  Policy Fellow, “the purpose of the dinner was to discuss the effects of the Electronic and Postal Communications Regulations 2018 that placed a requirement on bloggers and any other Internet-based service to share the names of their shareholders, their details, their approximate cost of investment, tax clearance certifications, pay slightly more than 900 USD in fees that includes an initial application fee, a licence fee and a renewable licence fee after 3 years and a lot more.”


‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director and Sylvia Musalagani of Hivos led an interactive discussion with the participants.


Wilfred Warioba from the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance said “The new legislation is a tool that has been created to protect certain institutions. There is no room for these bloggers and online content creators to excel unless they touch on certain interests. This is a denial of the right to access to information but nonetheless, there is room for negotiation now that we are in the courts”


“You don’t have to be journalists to write and share any information. This new law denies new people space for innovation. Innovation through media is being stopped so how are we going to innovate through media if we are being stifled. On the economic front, it stifles the rights of the young people who have no resources but want to express themselves,” said a blogger at the dinner.


‘Gbenga Sesan also encouraged attendees to deliberate on the way forward in the fight against the license fee.


“What shall we do? What needs to be done? We should be able to have conversations around it. This is not just for bloggers. How do we let people know about this? The policy is for everyone. When an idea comes to you and you need help to you we are here to help. We always know someone who can hold hands. Let’s work together.” Sesan said.


Henry Maina, the regional director of Article 19 said, “Think about the reactive work e.g. where government and other actors have been ahead of us and we need to play catch up. We need the right people in the right spaces in order to move government on certain laws. It’s important to create standards because as specialists we cannot remain casual.”


Sylvia Musalangi of Hivos added, “We need to have more conversations on this. We need to get more voices. There is an issue on capacity in understanding the issues around this.”


It was agreed among all in attendance that it was vital to take immediate action and that it was paramount that all stakeholders have long-term conversations.

‘Gbenga Sesan Calls for End to Taxes on Social Media, Blogging

By | Internet Freedom, Press Release

A digital rights expert and the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan has called for an end to attempts by governments in Africa to impose taxes on the digital platforms, saying such attempts are dangerous to the economic and democratic development on the continent.

Sesan made this call on Thursday at the 2018 Tanzania School of Internet Governance where he was a faculty member. It would be recalled that the Tanzanian government recently imposed a license fee of $900 on bloggers in the country, while Uganda also imposed a daily tax on the use of social media and mobile money.

“The levy imposed on digital content creators in Tanzania is not an isolated violation of digital rights but the manifestation of a trend across the continent. From Uganda’s social media tax to Cameroon’s shutdowns and Nigeria’s clampdown incidents, among others, freedom of expression online is under threat for many reasons, including the fact that digital platforms have become a major channel for citizens’ expression around governments’ poor service delivery to citizens. It is important to see these issues from the pan-African perspective as we engage with the context of our varied experiences” Sesan said.  

Sesan was a member of Nigeria’s Presidential committees on Harmonization of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Sectors (2006) and Roadmap for the Achievement of Accelerated Universal Broadband Infrastructure and Services Provision (2013), and is a vocal advocate for digital rights and inclusion in Africa. He took participants on “Advocacy Communications,” walking participants through the process of effective advocacy.  

For more information on this release, please send a mail to Sodiq Alabi via

Call for Registration: Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum

By | Uncategorized

Paradigm Initiative is pleased to announce the commencement of the registration process for the 7th Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF). Formerly known as the Internet Freedom Forum, the newly expanded Forum will hold from April 23 – 25 2019 in Lagos Nigeria.


Over the last 6 years, the Forum has gained a reputation as an important platform where conversations on Digital Policy in Africa are shaped, and policy directions forged. If you are interested in privacy, affordable Internet, increasing women’s access to digital tools, Internet shutdowns and similar themes, mark your calendar and join members of civil society, the technical community, government, academia and private sector for yet another agenda shaping event in 2019.


Registration for DRIF 2019 opens July 16, 2018 and ends January 31, 2019. 


Discussions at the Forum will revolve around Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion in Africa. For digital rights, sessions will explore topical issues around privacy and surveillance, Internet shutdowns, content takedowns, freedom of expression online activity amongst others.  


Discussions on Digital Inclusion will take a look at the costs of Internet data access in Africa, connecting the unconnected, bridging the gender gap in ICT access, the role of ICTs in democracies and communities.   


In 2018, the Forum welcomed over 200 delegates from 30 countries in Africa and beyond. In 2019, we plan to grow attendance by at least 50% as we welcome new voices to enrich the expanded framework of the Forum. The Forum will hold in Lagos, unarguably the business capital of Nigeria and arguably the tech capital of Africa. We believe this would make for a great atmosphere for lively conversations and an engaged local audience.


If you are an activist, technologist, journalist, government official, academic, legal or other professional interested in the future of the all things digital in Africa, please mark your calendar, book your flights and hotels and join us for what promises to be the event of the year on digital policy in Africa. We hope to welcome you in April to Lagos, Nigeria.


To give a feel of what to expect in DRIF 2019, we share some moments from the last edition here.


Digital Rights Workshop: Empowering Advocates in Cameroon

By | ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom

Paradigm Initiative in partnership with Internews, AfroLeadership, and CYEED organized a 4-day Digital Rights Workshop from the 18th day of June 2018 to the 21st June 2018 in Douala, Cameroun.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss with civil societies, government, private individuals and other stakeholders in the digital rights landscape of Cameroon and to also train participants on their Digital Rights and on advocacy. This training in June was the third training held in Cameroon as previous training had been held in both Barmenda and Yaounde.


Participants at this workshop were exposed to a variety of training and resources. While the first two days witnessed new participants, the last two days were for selected persons from groups which had already been working on projects surrounding digital rights from the last two sessions.

One of the first and basic subjects on which the participants were trained was on the topic of what Digital Rights entail, in a session tagged  ‘Digital Rights 101’ led by ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. Participants were trained on what internet and digital rights are, on the power of the internet, privacy surveillance, freedom of expression, opinion, association and so on.

In another more streamlined session on ICT Policy in Cameroon, the Google Policy Fellow at Paradigm Initiative, Rigobert Kenmogne treated issues like the laws and the evolution of ICT policies in Cameroon, ICT players and other factors contributing to the ICT Policy landscape in Cameroon.

The session on advocacy and communications was quite impactful as participants not only learned about strategies for advocacy but also on how to communicate a message. The participants were taught on project evaluation and monitoring, knowledge development, public speaking, creating coalitions and so on.

At the same training, a report was also presented by Adeboro Odunlami, Program Assistant (Digital Rights), Paradigm Initiative. The report embodied a case study on the digital rights situation in francophone African countries. At this session, almost all participants shared experiences on the negative effect of digital rights violation witnessed in their country. Paradigm Initiative also shared some lessons it learned from the Africa NetRights Coalition and the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

As the workshop progressed, participants were made to carry out practical tasks and discussions.

A session on ‘Building Trust and Relationships’ witnessed the participants answering questions such as ‘what is the current digital rights landscape in Cameroun?’, ‘where does my Organization/work fit in?’, ‘How can we all work together to make each other stronger?’ and other pertinent questions

At the end of this session, many participants revealed personal and organizational skills and resources which they’d be willing to share with other civil societies towards the goal of solving problems we had earlier identified.

For instance, a participant offered free workspace and technological support to another participant who indicated that his organization was working on a website compendium of laws and decrees of Cameroon in English and French language. Yet another participant offered free training for the Interns of participant organizations on Digital Media and Digital Rights. Another offered free social media visibility services and graphic design services. Another offered her skill to engender projects and make other Organizations’ projects more inclusive. Furthermore, another participant offered digital security training for free. There were also offers of free Newspaper pages for Advocacy materials and subsidized training on Communication, Writing Report and Press releases

Participants were also involved in other hands-on sessions where they prepared solutions to problems projected to occur at the upcoming election. Ideas/solutions presented involved building a coalition to facilitate internet access, writing open letters to the government, sensitization, and education of the electorate, managing post-election violence and so on.


Also at the workshop, Internews shared a guideline with the participants to facilitate a better understanding of its sub-grant application process.

Elevator pitches were also facilitated by all partners at the workshop to train participants on the proper and precise communication of ideas; a much-needed skill for advocacy

More topics treated at the workshop include budget development and project management for their digital rights projects.