Monthly Archives

September 2020

Zimbabwe govt’s digital ‘warfare’: harassing social media voices

By | Digital Rights

Whiles some African countries continue in the area of conventional warfare seeking to combat terrorism and separatism or both, there is a new frontier that most African governments are struggling to get a grip on. It is the online landscape with its attendant ‘warheads’ of internet and social media. Different governments are grappling to contend with the power that social media – especially Twitter and Facebook – gives to opposition voices be they politicians, journalists, activists or members of the wider civil society. A routine measure to combat the ever rising voices on social media is blocking the internet. Be it total blackout as happened in Ethiopia in June 2020 following the assassination of a top musician or blocking of specifics platforms – Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

How Harare is hounding top journalist, his lawyer 

“Zimbabwe’s High Court has granted bail to investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono … but the reporter won’t be allowed to post on Twitter before his trial on charges of inciting public violence,” An AP report of September 2 read. As at end of August, the southern African country had been gripped with a case that was in many ways intriguing as much as it was worrying. At the time, the episode had travelled an arrest, thwarted protest, bail denials and banning of a top human rights lawyer. Journalist Chin’ono is a known face and voice. He has had major news hovering around him in the last few months. From a COVID-19 corruption expose, then being at the center of a press and human rights saga.

He was arrested in July, Gestapo-style at his residence in the capital Harare. He had seen it coming and will even tweet the events as operatives forced their way into his home. His Twitter account appears to have been compromised after the break in and arrest. Months on, the courts have barred him from the “crime scene” – Twitter. He is not to tweet before his trial – a key bail condition. Reason for arrest; joining a call for protests of July 31 against misrule of the country. His lawyers battled police for access to their client whiles he appeared in court with handcuffs and leg irons. The treatment which includes surviving on biscuits continues despite legal, press and human rights protests. Hopewell, through his hearings said he remained undaunted, ‘I will be strong. I am fine,’ he said from a prison van after a bail hearing in August.

Beatrice Mtetwa is one of Zimbabwe’s celebrated rights lawyer. She is the journalist’s lawyer at least till a court in August stripped her of that power – citing a Facebook post she did not author. One of Chin’ono’s lawyers Roslyn Hanzi summed up the court’s decision plus refusal to allow lawyers access to the client: ‘They are essentially stripping Hopewell Chin’ono of his right to legal representation at all levels.’  Commenting on the court’s decision on Mtetwa, the Johannesburg Society of Advocates, JSA; accused the judge of being arbitrary in his ruling and called for a review of what they called a questionable decision. “The allegation that Mrs Mtetwa has committed unethical conduct should be properly investigated in accordance with fair procedures for dealing with misconduct by legal practitioners,” the JSA statement stressed.

Breaking yoke of media dependency

 

If dissenters needed state-run media to be heard years back, that dynamic has drastically changed with social media. One tweet would attract retweets and one Facebook posts will attract mass sharing, same for forwarding on WhatsApp. These are playfields where government have very little control of. In the race to keep up with the ‘liberated’ opposing voices, a number of governments have employed drastic measures the likes of arrests, surveillance and blocking accounts even bugging communication.

“There are surveillance and privacy infringements by governments all in the name of protecting their own safety,” Adeboro Odunlami, a Nigerian lawyer observed in an interview, which action spans a number of African governments.

History of arrests, dismissal of human rights voices

Zimbabwe is no stranger to arrests of opposition voices – a trend that was pervasive under the Mugabe regime, carried over into the current one. An unresolved case being that of journalist Itai Dzamara dating back to 2015. Opposition activists, even lawmakers are not immune to such arrests. A star of sorts during the latter years of the Mugabe regime was Pastor Evan Mawarire who was routinely jailed over subversion charges. More recently a top author had tasted the arrest dose. With each arrest comes calls for immediate release and dropping of charges but Harare seems to have mastered dismissing such calls. In the case of Hopewell, press and net rights groups, the diplomatic community have routinely made the call much as Harare has dismissed same.The preferred protest arena is the streets experts insist but the online arena undoubtedly has proven a mobilizer that governments dread and one that gives dissident voices the leverage to score points against power of the state.

The writer Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa is a 2020 Paradigm Initiative digital rights fellow and a former web journalist with Africanews.

 

Virtual learning in the times of COVID-19: Our lessons from the LIFE program in Nigeria

By | L.I.F.E.

When an organization that builds support systems for young people living in under-served communities crash, what happens? The past 5 months have taken a turn on Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE program. A training program that trains, equips and connects young boys and girls to the digital economy. The program offers relevant digital skills training to over 300 young adults at no cost yearly in order to bridge the digital gap/divide in these under-served communities across Nigeria. The beneficiaries of this program are youth from humble backgrounds that their parents can’t afford to pay their way through college or send them to institutions that offer the kind of training the LIFE program offers.

Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE (Life Skills, ICTs, Financial literacy and Entrepreneurship) Program has been running for over a decade now and is still committed to ensuring that every young person that passes through the program doesn’t just get trained but also connect to either job/internship or start their own entrepreneurial journey for an improved livelihood.

For 5 months now, the LIFE program operation has not been the same. The training centers in the 3 regions (North West, South West, and South East) where the training happens are on total lock down. All physical activities are suspended, both the potential students and beneficiaries of the program don’t have access to the facilities to learn or interact with peers and the program staff. Before the pandemic, the program had an ongoing training class that was affected by the official directives that lead to the National lock down.

Covid-19 has pointed out the importance of access to the internet, without access to reliable and meaningful connectivity young people from under-served communities’ risk being further cut off from vital information and online learning. The Program ongoing class as of March 2020 took a break from its usual mode of operation and that got the program staff thinking of better and improved strategies to continue engaging with the students. This process led to the program staff moving the training program to an immediate solution for the students to continue learning—WhatsApp.

As half of the world population is now online, many people still lack the quality of access they need to use the internet’s most powerful features, such as online learning. This is the case with young people living in under-served communities in Nigeria and around the World. With the fast response from the LIFE team to the Covid-19 lockdown, the WhatsApp learning initiative was not sustainable after a while. It was not long before different challenges began to arise—from students not being familiar with working remotely/virtually, to making themselves available for training, to finding it difficult to manage distraction, to them not having enough data (access to the internet), and to them not having the right device for the task at hand.

A smartphone offers the functionality to create and consume content in a way that basic phones don’t and the portability to use the internet anywhere. At some point during the training, Paradigm Initiative committed to providing data for the students weekly, just to keep them on the learning platform but this still couldn’t solve other issues. The team learnt that there is a need for a proper orientation for both the students and their parents. This will allow both parties to understand that in times of crises like the current pandemic there is a need to embrace technology, remote and virtual work/collaboration. There is also the fact that youth from these communities need the right device to stay connected to learning platforms and resources online. We can’t over lay emphasis on the fact that access to the internet/Web is not luxury but a lifeline. This population is highly affected and left behind from the needed information and resources that keep them relevant in the society.

The global pandemic had a huge effect on the processes and structure of Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE program and also presented a learning opportunity for the program to collaborate with other organizations in the ecosystem, partner with other Non-profits/NGOs working to achieve similar goals through putting resources together, and the opportunity to scale the program beyond its existing communities. As the unemployment and poverty rate increases by the day in these communities, there is a need for interventions like the LIFE program to continue to pull these young boys and girls up from the bottom of the pyramids.

The pandemic has made Paradigm Initiative Digital Inclusion teams realize the huge gap they have been bridging/closing for over a decade now in the host communities. The program’s training facilities in the 3 regions they currently operate from, has the needed learning equipment that assures maximum impact of the training on the students.

The Author of this article, Tosin Abolaji is  Paradigm Initiative’s  Digital Inclusion Program Manager

 

Uganda Communications Commission’s New Regulations Encourage Self-Censorship (Open Letter)

By | Advocacy, Internet Freedom

We, the members of the NetRights Coalition, have noted with great concern, the Public Notice issued by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on  September 7, 2020  “advising all persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services including but not limited to blogs, online televisions, online radios, online newspapers, audio over IP (AoIP), Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), Video on Demand (VoD), Digital Audio radios and televisions, internet/web radio and interview/web television, to obtain authorization from UCC before providing such services to the public.This process of registration has the adverse effect of deterring bloggers from blogging, promoting self censorship and stifling media practitioners who work to exercise their mandate of disseminating information. 

The NetRights Coalition is a network of organizations with a shared  vision of promoting digital rights in Africa. Our concern is premised on that any law requiring a blogger to register for the purpose of regulating bloggers is an attack on freedom of expression and inconsistent with the spirit and provisions of Article 29 of the Constitution of Uganda, 1995, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantee the right to freedom of expression; including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice.

We regret that the notice is an affront to the freedom of the media and the freedom of expression in Uganda both of which form the foundation of a liberal and civilized society. It is our considered view that if the UCC is concerned about the regulation of communication services in Uganda, there are various ways through which the same can be achieved without jeopardizing the rights and freedoms accorded to the people of Uganda by the country’s supreme law – the Constitution.

While we appreciate and recognise the statutory mandate of the Uganda Communications Commission, which among others, entails licensing, regulating and setting standards for the provision of all communication services in Uganda, we are deeply concerned that the Commission has issued such a notice unilaterally and without proper consultations, public participation and involvement of key stakeholders. According to Principle 17(4) of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in November 2019, “a multi-stakeholder model of regulation shall be encouraged to develop shared principles, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes to shape the use and evolution of the internet.” 

We join other stakeholders and the people of the Republic of Uganda in condemning this citizen-unfriendly order and hereby urge you to unconditionally withdraw this order and initiate a stakeholder engagement process. Embracing  a multi-stakeholder approach that allows for input from different stakeholders will ensure a policy that while fulfilling stated objectives, also promotes freedom of expression and privacy of vulnerable groups including women, persons with disabilities (PWDs), etc.

Signed By:

  1. African Academic Network on Internet Policy
  2. Paradigm Initiative
  3. Women of Uganda Network
  4. Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change and the Environment Sierra Leone 
  5. 5.Rwanda Youth Clubs for Peace Organization.
  6. ASUTIC Senegal
  7. TechHer
  8. Give1 Project Gambia
  9. Centre for Legal Support, The Gambia
  10. African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition

PIN Hosts Webinar on Draft Bill on Data Protection, Launches Report on Digital Rights in Nigeria

By | Press Release

Pan-African Digital Rights and Inclusion organisation, Paradigm Initiative hosted a civil society webinar on Nigeria’s draft data protection bill and launched a new report on Digital Rights and Privacy in Nigeria.

The report which explores the state of digital rights and privacy in Nigeria details the political and policy environment, practices, and stakeholders around digital rights and privacy in Nigeria. Building on previous annual reports on Nigeria and Africa by Paradigm Initiative, the report recommends a review of certain regulations by Nigeria’s Communications Commission to include judicial and public accountability in order to address the potential for abuse and abuses occasioned by the politics of regime preservation. Other recommendations in the report include a call for the passage of the digital rights and freedom bill and the data protection bill, the repeal and re-enactment of the cybercrimes act 2015, and a public education campaign to raise the awareness of citizens on data protection.

While speaking on the report and the webinar, Adeboye Adegoke, Senior Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative said “Given the work that we do, part of our advocacy objectives is to ensure that the development of digital policy receives quality inputs from us. Our focus is clear in this regard; rights, inclusion, and innovation”. “We will advocate against draft legislation/policy that seeks to limit rights, stifle innovation or widen access gaps and we will support those who seek to promote access, rights, and innovation.”

The Chief Operating Officer at Paradigm Initiative, Nnenna Paul-Ugochukwu in her remarks recognised that PIN represents a lot of other voices within the civil society space and this explains why the webinar and the report launch were held together, to present the organisation’s research output and to capture the views of other civil society organisations in its submission to the Federal government on the draft data protection bill. 

For more information about this statement, please contact media@paradigmhq.org

Link to the report: https://paradigmhq.org/download/digital-rights-and-privacy-in-nigeria/

Appel à co-auteurs

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom, L.I.F.E.

Un rapport sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion en Afrique

Contexte

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) est une entreprise sociale qui construit un système de soutien basé sur les TIC et milite pour les droits numériques afin d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des jeunes mal desservis. À travers ses équipes, partenaires et réseaux à travers le continent africain, PIN surveille l’état des droits numériques et de l’inclusion en Afrique et intervient avec des programmes et des actions qui répondent le mieux aux défis. L’écosystème numérique en Afrique est marqué par des violations des droits numériques que PIN a bien identifiées dans ses rapports sur les droits numériques en Afrique et a fait l’objet de délibérations mondiales sur des plateformes régionales et internationales telles que DRIF, le Forum sur la gouvernance de l’internet et RightsCon.

Grâce à la communauté des droits numériques et de l’inclusion, les initiatives de plaidoyer changent le paysage numérique en garantissant que les meilleures pratiques sont adoptées dans les politiques et la législation en Afrique. Des progrès significatifs sont en cours dans certains pays africains pour combler le fossé numérique et méritent d’être reconnus. Dans ce contexte, il est pertinent que le PIN documente les droits numériques et les violations d’inclusion, souligne les jalons et formule des recommandations pour améliorer le paysage numérique en Afrique.

Paradigm Initiative sollicite les services de chercheurs sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion en Afrique pour être co-auteurs d’un rapport continental annuel sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion. Chaque chercheur retenu fera rapport sur un pays spécifique. Paradigm Initiative versera une allocation de 800 USD au chercheur pour un travail achevé et soumis de manière satisfaisante.

Justification et portée du rapport

PIN cherche à compiler le rapport annuel 2020 qui donne une analyse approfondie de l’état des droits numériques et de l’inclusion en Afrique en examinant les violations, les lacunes, en enquêtant sur l’utilisation et l’application des politiques et de la législation, ainsi qu’en formulant des recommandations clés pour faire progresser les droits numériques et l’inclusion en Afrique. Le rapport dégagera également des thèmes clés à débattre lors du prochain DRIF21 et mettra en évidence les domaines d’intervention exceptionnels.

Méthodologie

Le rapport comprendra des rapports spécifiques aux pays bien documentés qui sont référencés et soumis par les auteurs des membres de son équipe et de la communauté des droits numériques et de l’inclusion. L’étude des pays adoptera une approche multiforme, combinant des méthodes empiriques et de recherche documentaire pour évaluer à la fois les aspects quantitatifs et qualitatifs des droits numériques et de l’inclusion en Afrique.

Contenu attendu

Les rapports nationaux doivent inclure un contexte et un historique; identifier et discuter des domaines d’évaluation thématiques, se référer à tout cadre juridique, politique et institutionnel du pays et faire des recommandations. Les rapports nationaux peuvent inclure, sans s’y limiter, l’un des domaines d’évaluation thématique suivants;

  • Impact de la réglementation COVID-19 sur les droits numériques et l’inclusion.
  • Jouissance de la liberté d’expression en ligne en 2020
  • Protection des données, confidentialité, identifiants numériques et surveillance
  • Coupures d’Internet
  • Lois sur le discours haineux, la désinformation et la diffamation criminelle
  • L’exclusion numérique en Afrique et son impact sur les droits humains
  • Infrastructure numérique et hiérarchisation des TIC.

Expertise et qualification requises

  • Bonne connaissance du pays sur lequel portera le rapport ;
  • Un diplôme pertinent.
  • Expertise, connaissances et expérience des droits numériques et de l’inclusion.
  • Ligne directrice pour les articles
  • Longueur acceptable du rapport de pays : 1500 mots
  • Anglais ou français.
  • Les auteurs doivent s’assurer que tous les statistiques, faits et données sont correctement référencés.
  • Un seul rapport de pays par chercheur sera accepté.

Les candidats intéressés, veuillez soumettre une réponse accompagnée d’une copie de votre CV et d’un échantillon de travail écrit d’ici le 19 septembre 2020 ici. Les délais complets seront communiqués aux candidats retenus. Les réponses seront communiquées le 1er octobre 2020.

Call for Co-Authors

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, DigitalJobs, ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom, L.I.F.E.

A Report on Digital Rights and Inclusion in Africa

Background

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates for digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth. Through its teams, partners and networks across the African continent, PIN monitors the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa and intervenes with programs and actions that best respond to the challenges.  The digital ecosystem in Africa is marked by digital rights violations which PIN has aptly captured in its Digital Rights in Africa reports as well as been subject for global deliberations at regional and international platforms such as DRIF, Internet Governance Forum, and RightsCon.

Through the digital rights and inclusion community, advocacy initiatives are changing the digital landscape ensuring best practices are adopted into policy and legislation in Africa. The meaningful strides being taken in some African countries to bridge the digital divide are worth acknowledging.  With this background, it is pertinent that PIN documents digital rights and inclusion violations, highlights milestones and makes recommendations for improving the digital landscape in Africa.

Paradigm Initiative seeks the services of researchers on digital rights and inclusion from within Africa to be co-authors of an annual continental report on digital rights and inclusion. Each successful researcher will report on a specific country. Paradigm Initiative will pay a stipend of USD $800 to the researcher for work satisfactorily completed and submitted.

Rationale and Scope of the report

PIN seeks to compile the 2020 annual report that gives an in-depth analysis of the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa by examining violations, gaps, investigating the use and application of policy and legislation as well as draw key recommendations for advancing digital rights and inclusion in Africa. The report will also draw key themes for deliberation at the upcoming DRIF21 and highlight outstanding areas for intervention.

Methodology

The report will comprise of well-researched country specific reports which are referenced and submitted by authors from its team members and digital rights and inclusion community. The study of the countries will take a multifaceted approach, combining empirical and desk-research methods to assess both quantitative and qualitative aspects of digital rights and inclusion in Africa.

Expected Content

Country Reports must include a context and background; identify and discuss the thematic assessment areas, refer to any in-country legal, policy and institutional framework and make recommendations. The country reports may include and not limited to any of the following thematic assessment areas;

  • Impact of COVID-19 Regulations on digital rights and inclusion.
  • Enjoyment of Freedom of Expression online in 2020
  • Data Protection, Privacy, Digital IDs and Surveillance
  • Internet Shutdowns
  • Hate Speech, Misinformation and Criminal Defamation Laws
  • Digital exclusion in Africa and its impact on human rights
  • Digital infrastructure and prioritization of ICT.

 Required expertise and qualification

  • Good understanding of the country to be reported on;
  • A relevant degree qualification.
  • Expertise, knowledge, and experience in digital rights and inclusion.

Guideline for Articles

  • Acceptable Length of Country Report: 1500 words
  • English or French.
  • Authors to please ensure that all statistics, facts and data are properly referenced.
  • Only 1 country report per researcher will be accepted.

Interested candidates, kindly submit a response together with a copy of your resume and sample written work by 19 September 2020 here. Full timelines will be communicated to successful candidates. Responses will be communicated on 1 October 2020.

Vacancy: Finance and Assets Manager

By | Advocacy, DigitalJobs, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a non-profit social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems for young people, in order to improve their livelihoods. Two of PIN’s programs focus on digital inclusion while the third focuses on digital rights advocacy. Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in key regions of Africa. Our policy advocacy efforts include media campaigns, coalition building, capacity building, research and report-writing.

Job Summary:

The Finance and Assets Manager will be responsible for the financial health of Paradigm Initiative. One of his/her core functions will be to produce financial reports and develop strategies based on financial research. The successful candidate will guide and support the Leadership Team and Executive Director in making sound business decisions in the long and short term.

The FAM will be responsible for distributing the financial resources of Paradigm Initiative including budget planning and will support the executive management team by offering insights and financial advice that will facilitate sound business decision-making

Reporting To:

Executive Director

Responsibilities:

  • Monitor the day-to-day financial operations within the company, such as payroll, invoicing, and other transactions
  • Oversee financial department employees, including financial assistants and accountants
  • Prepare monthly and annual Management Reports
  • Manage the liquidity of the Organization
  • Contract outside services for tax preparation, auditing, banking, investments, and other financial needs as necessary
  • Track the company’s financial status and performance to identify areas for potential improvement
  • Seek out methods for minimising financial risk to the company
  • Research and analyse financial reports and market trends
  • Provide insightful information and expectations to senior executives to aid in long-term and short-term decision making
  • Review financial data and prepare monthly and annual reports
  • Prepare and present financial reports to board members, stakeholders, executives, and clients in formal meetings
  • Stay up-to-date with technological advances and accounting software to be used for financial purposes
  • Establish and maintain financial policies and procedures for the company
  • Understand and adhere to financial regulations and legislation
  • Prepare financial reports and reconciliations to general ledger data
  • Make timely recommendations for mitigating strategies and risk rating changes
  • Prepare and review timely assets management reports
  • Prepare regular investment reports and risk assessment of investments
  • Manage and maintain all properties and acquisitions
  • Strategize on the best model for managing the organization’s assets and resources
  • Conduct periodic review of all assets and acquisitions
  • Evaluate the value of all properties and suggesting ways for generating revenue
  • Objectively review Paradigm Initiative’s business processes
  • Evaluate the efficacy of risk management procedures that are currently in place
  • Protect against fraud and theft of Paradigm Initiative’s assets

Required Skills and competencies

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • Excellent organizational skills, follow-through attitude and attention to details;
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • Good supervisory and leadership skills;
  • Research skills;
  • Critical thinking skills;
  • Innovative and creative abilities;
  • Integrity;
  • Multi-tasking abilities;
  • Honesty;
  • Thorough knowledge of relevant laws on Accounting and Taxation;
  • Knowledge of and experience with various Accounting software such as Quickbooks.

Education and Experience

  • A First Degree in Accounting, Economics or Finance;
  • Must be a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria;
  • Possession of a second degree will be an added advantage;
  • Must have at least 7 years’ hands-on experience in a Senior Finance role;
  • Hands-on knowledge of relevant accounting and taxation laws.
  • A background in audit would be an added advantage.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Monitoring the day-to-day financial operations within the company, such as payroll, invoicing, and other transactions;
  • Developing, implementing and monitoring Financial strategies and initiatives 
  • Regular development of overall Financial strategies, systems, tactics and procedures aligned with Paradigm Initiative’s Best Place To Work initiative and Strategic Management Plan;
  • Minimizing costs and maximizing profits to promote organizational growth;
  • Performing internal and external auditing functions when required;
  • Procurement of quality assets and items for the organisation at the best price;
  • Tagging of assets at a maximum of 2 days after purchase;
  • Quarterly update of inventory of assets in all PIN’s offices;
  • Annual error-free auditing of the Organization’s finances;
  • Monthly error-free drafting of financial reports;
  • Monthly statutory payments;
  • Maximum of 3 days downtime for any asset.

For the purpose of gender balance, a female candidate will be preferred. 

How to apply

Qualified candidates should send their resume with subject as FINANCE AND ASSETS MANAGER to hr@paradigmhq.org.

The application closes on September 16, 2020, but the position will be filled as soon as we find the right fit. If you think you are the right fit, do not delay in sending in your application. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Salary is N3.5M gross per annum. Other benefits including employer contribution of pension, medical cover, 13th month salary and leave allowance apply.

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