Monthly Archives

December 2020

Vacancy: COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT – GRAPHICS DESIGNER

By | 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:  

We are seeking a Graphics Designer to join our team. You will be designing a wide variety of things across digital and offline media.  

Reporting To: 

Communications Officer

Roles and Responsibilities: 

  • Plan concepts by studying relevant information and materials
  • Illustrate concepts by designing examples of art arrangement, size, type size and style
  • Prepare finished art by operating necessary equipment and software
  • Coordinate with outside agencies, art services, web designer, printers and colleagues, where necessary
  • Communicate with internal customers about layout and design
  • Create a wide range of graphics and layouts with software such as adobe photoshop and illustrator.
  • Review final layouts and suggest improvements where necessary
  • Timely response to the communications needs of team members and providing timely updates regarding any ongoing project.
  • Produce all email campaigns, solicit content from internal sources, and manage review, testing, and sending.
  • Publish a variety of digital content with a focus on producing engaging web pages that are visually appealing and provide an overall rich experience for partners and visitors. Manage all postings to ensure content is on-brand and search- and social-optimized.
  • Develop and execute social and print media campaigns for key days, themes, and priority upcoming content.
  • Create content for social media accounts, post regularly on each account and ensure engagement with our various audiences.
  • Manage social ad campaigns and other promotions; track and share results for continuous improvement to targeting and segments.
  • Promote new content, key pages, and calls-to-action across channels. Position content to target different segments and to fit the format and publishing requirements of each platform
  • Contribute to team efforts by accomplishing tasks as needed
  • Other projects as assigned

Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Graphics Design or any other related field
  • At least 2 years of relevant work experience as a Graphics Designer
  • Experience with computer-aided design
  • Excellent IT skills especially with design and photo-editing software

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: 

  • Must be an exceptionally creative and strategic thinker with good judgement and ability to make independent decisions in a changing environment
  • Must be a good communicator; have excellent written, presentation and oral communications in English
  • Demonstrable graphic design skills with a strong portfolio
  • Proficiency with required desktop publishing tools including Photoshop, InDesign Quark and Illustrator
  • Software skills desired – WordPress, SquareSpace, MailChimp (or similar email service provider), offline and cloud-based productivity tools
  • A strong eye for visual composition
  • Effective time management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Understanding of corporate identity, advertisements and multimedia design
  • Attention to details and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to give and receive constructive criticism
  • Flexibility and ability to work collaboratively with others especially other team members
  • Ability to understand, speak and write French will be an added advantage

To be successful in this position, you will be a self-starter, capable of delivering brilliant creative ideas and showing amazing attention to detail.

How to apply

Send a one-page statement of interest, copies of or links to your graphic design works and your recent CV attached to hr@paradigmhq.org.

The application will be open until December 31, 2020, but it 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.

PIN Asks Court to Stop NCC from Disconnecting Over 100 Million Nigerians

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Press Release

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has asked the court to restrain the Nigerian government and telecommunications service providers from carrying out a recent order requiring that all SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers be disconnected by the telecommunications service providers by December 30, 2020. The organisation decries the Nigerian government’s order requiring all telecommunications service providers to ask their subscribers to link their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to the SIM cards within two weeks. PIN says it is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the government and the service providers from carrying out the draconian order as it believes it is a violation of fundamental rights to freedom of expression of Nigerian citizens as guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (as amended).

“The proposed blocking of SIM cards not linked with the National Identity Number is unlawful and unconstitutional,” says Adeboye Adegoke, Senior Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative. “Many young people and others, using their mobile phones for expression or to do business online will be affected by the poorly thought-out policy. No reasonable Nigerian will support such a policy that is geared to make life unbearable for Nigerian citizens.”

In June 2020, the Director General of the National Identity Management Commission, Aliyu Aziz, said only 38% of Nigerians have any form of identification. According to him: “…over 100 million Nigerians have no identity (ID). These include the poorest and the most vulnerable groups, such as the marginalised – women and girls, the less-educated people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, people with disabilities and people living in rural and remote areas.”

The said policy has created panic in the polity since it was announced. Nigeria, at the moment, is experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic according to the daily numbers from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the past one week. “This is a time when we need to discourage public gatherings and crowds, but it appears that the government is not sensitive enough and has asked that 100 million Nigerians should go and register for the National Identification Number within 2 weeks, so we are left with no choice but to seek the intervention of the court.”

“Requiring over 100 million Nigerian citizens to register for NIN in two weeks is not only unrealistic but a fire brigade approach to governance that will not bring any value to the people,” says Valery Njiaba, Communications Officer at Paradigm Initiative. “Whatever the government is trying to achieve by the strange directive is ignoble. When the same government of Nigeria tried to compel students writing UTME examinations to register for the NIN as a pre-requisite to sitting for the examinations earlier this year, many students couldn’t register, even though there are documented cases of government officials and law enforcement officials taking advantage of the desperation of the students to register for NIN to extort them and their parents. The government was forced to walk back on the policy at that instance. These are the types of effects the fire-brigade approach to policymaking could lead to”, Valery concluded.

How Training Programs and Training Organizations Make a difference.

By | AbaLIFE, AjegunleLIFE, Echoes From Life, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

Numbers are important but a positive impact and track records make the difference. At Paradigm Initiative, our training programs are more focused on impact over numbers. The organization has been in existence for 13 years now and has not deviated from its primary goal – connecting underserved young Africans to opportunities in the digital economy in order for them to improve their livelihoods. The organization has worked with governments, civil society, private institutions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, to set standards in ICT education, telecenter support, ICT applications in rural areas, and other ICT interventions in Nigeria and across Africa.

LIFE Training Centre, Aba.

Over the years, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has worked so hard to ensure that its focus is not only on numbers but on impact. For instance, one of PIN’s training programs is the LIFE project, an acronym for Life Skills, ICTs, Financial literacy, and Entrepreneurship – these are the components that make up the training program, and its primary focus has always been on youth within the ages of 12-28 years. The LIFE training program started in Ajegunle (Lagos State), a community in the South-West region in Nigeria but has replicated to other regions (South-East, Northwest) and currently working with organizations in the South-South and North-East in order to expand its operations and impact.  

LIFE Training Centre, Aba

As an organization, we have noticed that one of the challenges most training organizations face is the fact that they don’t keep track of participants that have gone through their training programs. They might have the numbers but they can’t measure the impact on the participants. Having records of participants that have gone through a training program has a huge impact on the organization. To start with, it helps with fundraising – grant-making organizations (funders) want to see what you have done and the impact on society. They want to hear and see your beneficiaries share their stories on how the training program has positively impacted them and moved them from point A to point B. Most times, all funders want is “we have done it, not we can do it”. 

Tracking records will highlight the fact that the organization thought leaders in the ecosystem. This will allow other organizations to want to learn and work with you. This also allows funders to look for you when they want to implement a specific project that has your name and expertise on it. For instance, PIN worked with Intel Corporation on the She Will Connect Project from 2016 to 2018 after Intel literally walked into PIN’s office and offered to work with PIN.     

LIFE Training Centre, Ajegunle.

Focusing on impact and tracking records also gives the organization good publicity and visibility. When training programs are more concerned about impact and track records, publicity and visibility are much easier because beneficiaries will talk/speak about the program (project) and the organization wherever they have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise.

There are countless benefits when training programs are focused on impact and have records of trainees that have benefited from the program. It’s undeniable that people are eager to associate with training organizations that can track and measure their impact. When this process is in place, it’s easy to get experts and professionals that appreciate the work you do and want to contribute (volunteer) or play a part in the success of the program.

Paradigm Initiative’s LIFE program has a record of its trainees from inception, way back from 2007. We keep a database of all trainees that have passed through the program and this is reviewed (updated) periodically. The project is structured in a way that everyone we train is mandated to send a six-month regular report immediately after the training. This has helped us to know what each trainee is doing per time; the process does not just end with trainees sending reports but program staff also taking the responsibility to check on these trainees. Our program staff also ensures a lasting relationship is created before the trainee graduate (leave) from the program. We use different mediums to track (follow-up) our beneficiaries; we call and SMS them, we create both WhatsApp and Facebook groups for them in order to ease communications, and for those that don’t have emails before joining the program, we make sure they create one for themselves and ensure they get familiar with it.    

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

Every year, PIN produces an annual publication referred to as “Echoes from LIFE.” It is a publication that has new impact stories of beneficiaries from the LIFE program. This is possible because we get updates (stories) from our trainees through our follow-up mechanisms (process). Okoye Chisom Gloria joined the LIFE program after a publicity outreach that happened in her Secondary School in 2012, but she told herself that it was all too good to be true, and she didn’t give it any further thought. In 2013, she enrolled and was selected after a second trial – “The program helped me with people-relations (skills) and exposed me to ICT, and took away the shy nature in me. Chisom volunteered for several years on the program before she went further to study Computer Engineering at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State.

Okoye Chisom Gloria, L.I.F.E Trainee.

She was a group leader during practical sessions, taught tutorials to her course-mates, and also helped them with issues such as formatting of PCs, repairs, and maintenance. She makes herself available to share new knowledge with our current trainees when she is on break. Now, she has graduated from the University (2014 – 2018), completed her Youth Service (2019 – 2020), and has fully resumed with KPMG (2020) in Nigeria, one of the leading audit firms in the world as a Front end Engineer with interest in creating interactive and rich user experience products. She has experience building a user interface as a sole developer and as part of a team. We constantly follow-up with hundreds of our beneficiaries following the same process as that of Chisom. With this, the program has never run out of impact stories. Finally, focusing on impact and tracking records informs the organization of the number of direct and indirect beneficiaries recorded.     

We are in the process of replicating the LIFE program in Senegal with two-year grant support from the Internet Society Foundation (ISOC). This was possible because the Foundation saw that we have a database of young people that have benefited from our LIFE program and how they have moved on to improve their livelihoods over the years. That gave us leverage over other Senegalese organizations that applied for the grant.

 

By Tosin Abolaji – Program Manager, Digital Inclusion.

Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis: Net Blackout and Govt’s One-Way Fact Check.

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

Ethiopia has had a challenging 2020 relative to the internet. There has been a triple outage – two restricted to particular zones and one nationwide. The first outage in western Oromia lasted three months in an area government was combating rebels.

The second and more impacting being the nationwide blackout imposed in June, through the better part of July followed the killing of a famed Oromo artiste, Hachaalu Hundessa, in the capital Addis Ababa. That blackout lasted over three weeks according to Net Blocks.

The more recent restricted outage is in the northern Tigray region where the government says it is carrying out a “rule of law operation” against the recalcitrant regional government led by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, TPLF.

Immediately after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed “declared war” on the TPLF in early November 2020, internet connectivity was cut across Tigray as federal forces engaged the regional forces in hostilities that have triggered a humanitarian crisis along the border with Sudan.

Government’s one-way fact-checking via Facebook / Twitter

Days after the operation began in western Tigray, the government announced official social media channels (Facebook / Twitter) – to debunk fake news. Relaying official account of the operation and debunking misinformation was the main task of the State of Emergency Fact-Checking handles.

From new reports about the bombing of a dam, enlisting of South Sudanese soldiers, and talk of regional even continental mediation; the government debunked all of the above whiles confirming other separate incidents reported in the press and posted on social media.

Incessant as the calls for de-escalation and restoration of especially communication services have been, the calls have all been rebuffed by Addis Ababa. The United Nations, African Union, human, media, and digital rights groups, have all made the unheeded call.

Most people tweeting about the crisis are believed to be Ethiopians from the diaspora and or political and security watchers who receive their information from other sources – be it diplomatic or by other means.

The regional authorities despite the blackout continue to grant interviews especially to the major news agencies – Reuters, AFP whiles other journalists in the region also relay news via Twitter especially.

Analysts on Ethiopia’s ‘assault’ on connectivity

Internet Rights expert, Ekai Nabenyo, East Africa lead for net rights group Paradigm Initiative, PIN; in an article described the Ethiopian government’s appetite for internet shutdowns as “insatiable and atavistic.” 

“…in blatant disregard of basic human entitlements, the government of Ethiopia never missed an opportunity to violate the rights of citizens. At the slightest provocation, the government appears to always have as its first option, internet shutdowns and communication restriction.”

“Internet shutdowns are never a good option in times of crisis or national emergencies. A society that does not have access to information is a society that is walking in a fathomless abyss,” he added.

For other analysts, it was intriguing that a government creates the conditions for fake news to be peddled yet positions itself to be a “unilateral” source of credible information. 

Why the outrage and calls for lifting measure

The Ethiopian government did not give any reasons – it hardly ever gives reasons for such security-related shutdowns – but experts have said the move was to ensure that government controls the war narrative plus to disrupt communication lines of “opponents.”

Despite not being opponents, the media became one of the most adversely impacted by the communications blackout. People outside of the region could also not connect with family and friends trapped in the region. 

In a recent Reuters report, the script read in part: “Claims from all sides are difficult to verify since phone and internet links to the region have been down…” Several journalists have had to depend on diplomatic sources and other means to report incidents.

Most analysts have stressed the impact of unverifiable information. In which instance people peddle fake news along with its attendant dangers. Local and international watchers have tasked the government to lift the outage.

“Cutting off communication has severely hampered the ability to monitor the situation on the ground, particularly the impact of the clashes in the local population,” UN human rights head Michelle Bachelet said in a November 6 statement.

Bachelet asked Addis Ababa to “re-establish all basic services, including Internet and telephone connections.” Adding that “the right of all people to be informed and to access information is particularly vital in a crisis situation”.

Conclusion

But authorities in Ethiopia are not alone in seeking to unilaterally combat fake news, over in Nigeria, the Army has recently appropriated unto itself busting fake news on social media. 

In the aftermath of the deadly toll booth shooting in Lagos amid the #EndSars protests, the Army stamped “fake news” labels on social media posts alleging their complicity in the incident.

Restricting the internet as done by Addis Ababa was to achieve an end – be it security or information control. Going a step further to fact check reports underlines the importance of combating unverified/fake news.

The writer, Abdul Rahman Shaban Alfa, is a 2020 Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion fellow. He is a digital journalist who writes on major digital rights trends across Africa.  

Paradigm Initiative calls for Stakeholders Input Into Draft Tanzania’s Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill, 2020.

By | Press Release

Pan-African Digital Rights organization, Paradigm Initiative has called for input to a draft Internet Rights Bill for Tanzania. The bill which is an outcome of a series of capacity-building workshops among digital rights stakeholders in Tanzania including lawyers, academics, the media, members of the civil society among others, was modeled after the Nigerian Digital Rights and Freedom Bill. In the interaction with the stakeholders, it became evident that there is an urgent need to create an empowered citizenry and digital rights community that can work with the government of the Republic of Tanzania to safeguard citizens’ digital rights. In addition to the existing cyber-related laws in the country such as the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) and the Cybercrimes Act, Paradigm Initiative identified the need and saw it necessary to not only initiate but also provide technical support to the process of the enactment of a Digital Rights law in Tanzania. This Bill seeks to protect internet users in Tanzania from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and to guarantee the application of human rights for users of digital platforms and/or digital media.

The discussions around the Bill kicked off in earnest during a Civil Society and Media Forum that Paradigm Initiative organized in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in August 2020 with support from Counterpart International. The zero drafts of the Bill is ready for scrutiny and submission of comments by the members of the public and other stakeholders in Tanzania. We expect that stakeholders in Tanzania will be able to analyze and articulate digital rights issues in their country in this Bill thus improving the quality and the relevance of the draft bill to the Tanzanian context. It is our ardent hope that our intervention in Tanzania through leading the drafting of this bill will be accorded with the necessary stakeholder support and we look forward to engaging entities such as the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority and the parliament who are very crucial to the objective of the bill as part of the process.

Call for Input – Tanzania Bill on Digital Rights: CLICK HERE

Review: Digital pledges in 2020 manifesto of Ghana ruling party.

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

Ghanaians will be voting in December 2020 in general elections. The keenly watched poll is a re-election bid for the two main candidates. Incumbent Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama. The winner will be serving their second and final term as president of one of Africa’s most stable democracies. The vote is the eighth consecutive since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992.

Important as electioneering campaigns and messaging are, they afford both parties and other contenders the opportunity to sell their political agenda. As a 2020 Paradigm Initiative digital rights fellow, this writer zones in on the digital pledges in the manifesto of the ruling New Patriotic Party, NPP. This follows a first part that tracked the same in the main opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC’s; manifesto.

Setting tone for digital take-off

The NPP touts their achievements so far in the digital landscape and continues in the document to address areas they will consolidate and or introduce in the next term if they win the polls.

The word “digital” appears a total of 64 times in different contexts throughout the 216-page document dubbed “Leadership of Service: Protecting our Progress, Transforming Ghana for All.”

The first mention of the word digital is in the message from the president and flagbearer of the party which read in part: “We have embraced digital technology in the delivery of public services …”

In Part 5 of the document titled: Accelerating Growth and Transformation; the NPP dedicates an entire chapter to Digitisation and the Transformation of the Ghanaian Economy. Specifically, it zoned in on the digitization journey and plans to build a digital services economy and to create a leading sub-regional digital hub.

Touting digital strides from 2016 – 2020 

The government summarized its digital development areas as follows: improve the delivery of public service, formalize the economy, improve revenue mobilization, deepen and broaden inclusiveness in the development process, and curb bribery and corruption.

The Akufo-Addo-led government has since 2016 rolled out a number of digital processes in the delivery of government services. Some of the notable ones being the 2018 digital address system, digital driver’s license, and vehicle registration.

Others are the digitized process of obtaining building permits, reforms for court administration, and incremental development of the Ghana.gov portal as a one-stop-shop for digital payment and revenue mobilization.

In the education sector especially, the government also touted its efforts in digitizing libraries stating thus: “Through the Ghana Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), we provided students living with disability in selected tertiary institutions with assistive technology-enabled devices and training to promote their digital inclusion.”

Digitizing the health insurance system was also the other plank highlighted. The Digital Hub under which the Accra Digital Center falls is an area of innovation and enterprise for young developers that government promises to boost.

Plan, promises, and projects for 2020 – 2024

“Over the next four years, we will leverage on our existing digital infrastructure and make the necessary investments and policies to establish Ghana firmly as the digital services hub of West Africa,” the manifesto said.

In concrete terms, the NPP government promised to among others:

* Put in place generation of connected market infrastructure on which government and the economy can function.

* Rationalise the functions of bodies in the technology ecosystem and to streamline the legal and regulatory frameworks.

* Update Ghana’s spectrum policy and regulations to promote greater transparency, the competitive and rapid expansion of internet services to rural areas.

* Establish a national data center that centralizes all digital information and data storage, management, and protection.

* Increase broadband coverage, affordability of digital devices and explore innovations to ensure the visually impaired are not left out of the ongoing digital revolution plus increasing access and affordability of digital devices.

* Invest in human capital to build digital skills base, by continuing investments in teaching ICT from primary school.

* Undertake processes aimed at reducing the cost of data in Ghana. A gigabyte of data as of 2020 costs $0.94, making Ghana the country with the sixth cheapest rate in Africa.

* Other areas of interest include reduction of taxes on digital devices, lowering of the spectrum and license costs.

Digital investment makes a significant showing in the concluding chapter under the heading of “Transformation for a Ghana Beyond Aid,” the relevant portions read thus: “The coronavirus pandemic has reaffirmed our vision of building a Ghana Beyond Aid…

“… one of the pillars of which is to build a resilient economy with the financial strength to fund public services, and to ensure a strong Ghanaian presence and capacity across the supply and services value chains of all the major sectors.”

The cyberspace plans are largely limited, only reporting of successes in the first tenure. The government mentioned the setting up of the Computer Emergency Response Team with the National Communications Authority and also training police on cybersecurity.

Conclusion

The digital space clearly is of increasing interest to major political stakeholders in Ghana. Like the NDC, the incumbent party has given lots of space to the potential and game-changing impact of digital processes on general national life.

As reiterated by experts in the digital ecosystem, civil society and the media will be key in keeping successive governments in check to deliver on promises especially relative to legislation on digital rights and data protection.

“Civil society must track these promises and push politicians to implement as many of them as possible,” a digital rights activist told this writer.

As crucial as the digital space is, one wonders how many Ghanaians will vote on digital rights and other digital inclusion grounds.

Whiles at it, parties and candidates are busily using social media to sell their messages to the many Ghanaians with a presence on and offline. Game on, may the best party win.

 

The writer, Abdul Rahman Shaban Alfa, is a 2020 Paradigm Initiative Digital Rights and Inclusion fellow. He is a digital journalist who writes on major digital rights trends across Africa.  

Paradigm Initiative Applauds MTN Group Limited for Releasing First Transparency Report

By | Press Release

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) welcomes the recently released MTN Group Limited Transparency Report. This is a milestone as MTN Group Limited has broken new ground by being the first African technology company to release a transparency report.  MTN is a critical digital operator with over 250 million customers across 21 emerging markets in Africa and the Middle East. It looks at MTN’s operating environment, presents the MTN digital human rights policy, and provides a strategy and sustainability framework. Notably, the transparency report embraces a digital human rights approach for the conduct of business.

 

 

According to Thobekile Matimbe, Paradigm Initiative’s Community Manager, PIN recently joined in a civil society open letter to the new MTN Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita congratulating him on his new appointment and calling for transparency of the leading internet service provider in line with the  African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (the African Declaration). The release of the report has been long-awaited and comes against the backdrop of an African continent where there is a need for an enabling environment for the enjoyment of internet freedoms. MTN is a big part of that process. “As a leading internet service provider in Africa, MTN has embraced human rights guidelines for conducting business. This is critical and hopefully, other internet service providers in Africa can follow this precedent,” she said.

 

 

Over the years, MTN has been in the spotlight for failing to exhibit transparency and adherence to international standards that promote access to information and freedom of expression online.  In 2019, PIN joined the civil society in calling for MTN to denounce an internet shutdown in Sudan. In view of the released transparency report, it is incumbent on civil society to continue to monitor adherence to the human rights policy presented by MTN. This is necessary for enhancing accountability and improving engagements.

 

MTN’s release of this transparency report has clearly set a standard that will be relied upon as a basic minimum to measure compliance across the African continent. We urge that going forward, MTN should continue to provide regular transparency reports, disclose its policies for responding to government’s data requests, orders to shut down services or degrade networks, to disclose its policies on privacy, and regularly engage civil society, including in difficult situations when government requests may be unlawful. We call on all other internet service providers operating in Africa to provide regular transparency reports in keeping with upholding digital rights.

PIN’s Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan, Makes a Strong Statement at TED Salon on Fairness and Our Future.

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, ICTs

The TED Salon: Fairness and Our Future, a virtual program in partnership with UNDP, touches on how we ensure that tomorrow is better than today, not just for ourselves but also for future generations and the entire planet. Discussion on this program was led by four speakers from diverse sectors, Sarah Brosnan a primatologist, Angela Mahecha Adrar a climate justice leader, Achim Steiner a sustainability champion, and ‘Gbenga Sesan tech inclusionist and Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative.

“Inequality must be seen as the global epidemic that it is,” says tech inclusionist ‘Gbenga Sesan. He speaks at TED Salon: Fairness and Our Future, in partnership with the UNDP, on December 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

‘Gbenga Sesan explains “We must eradicate inequality by giving everybody fair access to technology”. Centuries of inequality can’t simply be solved with gadgets — we need to supply training and resources that fully level the playing field, says ‘Gbenga Sesan. He started the Paradigm Initiative, to help those in his native Nigeria learn how to use technology in a way that sustains their hopes and dreams and ultimately leads to greater development for the entire African continent. In creating systemic solutions for tackling the inequality that 40 percent of the world experiences Sesan seeks to create lasting fairness for all by offering the opportunities, support, and equal advantages for the next generations to succeed.

Get the complete insight of the program, courtesy TED by clicking on this LINK

 

HIGHLIGHTING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFRICA.

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights

In a bit to understand the role of artificial intelligence in our daily life and activities, Paradigm Initiative and Women on the Table organized a webinar on Wednesday, December 8th, 2020, bringing together resource persons and actors in the domain of artificial intelligence and digital rights to exchange on the stakes and implication within our communities. 

The speakers included Belona Sonna an Associate Data Engineer at ALTREZE, and entrepreneur, a researcher currently working on revolutionalizing the healthcare industry ethically, and Chennai Chair Research Manager, Gender and Digital Rights at World Wide Web Foundation, a researcher with a focus on building evidence for pro-poor and public interest digital policy who currently exploring digital innovation and its impact on Africa’s social and economic growth as well as digital rights from a feminist perspective.

 

Belona Sonna an Associate Data Engineer at ALTREZE

 

Chennai Chair Research Manager, Gender and Digital Rights at World Wide Web Foundation

Moderating the session was Gbenga Sesan Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director who set the pace for the session by introducing the panelists and immediately introduced a poll to allow participants to share their knowledge on the subject matter.

According to Belona “AI is an important topic to be discussed alongside human rights, because AI has become part of our life, as it has been adopted in most sectors, like healthcare, education, and there are concerns that have been raised about Ethical issues, and privacy violation” while Chennai stressed that “there is a tendency for new technology to have a proliferated life existence where it then shapes every aspect of our lives, whether it is from the public sector, private sector or us as individuals trying to find solutions to the problems we face on the continent. Then one might be tempted to say that technology is neutral, it is not embedded in context, and it exists on its own. But the true reality is that everything that we interact with, whether it be in technology form, or analog form, actually shapes our lives and experiences.

Though the session was characterized by questions and answers, it ended with mind-blowing recommendations by the guest speakers. Belona on her part recommended ethics before development saying “Don’t be in a hurry to use AI. Take time to ensure that the proposed AI model will respect rules and our lives, and respect us as Africans” and Chennai Chair concluded that “There is a need for civil society to be involved with a collaborative model. We cannot do it on our own, and we can’t do it with the traditional institutions that have been doing it for a very long time. Also, to move away from centering the technology, but to center the experience of people. Once we have got these two, we can solve the procurement and ethics issue”

Gbenga Sesan the moderator in his final remark, concluded the session by acknowledging the contribution of the panelist and audience members. He said that the next steps should be to engage in ongoing work in the areas of AI and Human rights,  and noted that Paradigm Initiative has developed a computer-based system called AYETA a digital right toolkit to promote digital rights and data protection awareness and policy in Africa. He thanked all the participants for their support.

Paradigm Initiative Says Digital Rights are Human Rights, Launches Digital Rights Toolkit

By | Press Release

This year, International Human Rights Day is commemorated under the theme: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights! Paradigm Initiative joins the world to commemorate this day, reflecting on the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Because everyone is human, they are entitled to inalienable rights such as the right to life, human dignity, and equality. During the COVID-19 pandemic which constituted most of the challenges faced within countries across the globe, lives were lost and the right to health and education became a priority for human rights protection. In Africa, many were left behind in accessing education and health care following the exposition of inefficient healthcare systems and technology deficient education sectors.

In a UN/DESA Policy Brief #61: COVID-19: Embracing digital government during the pandemic and beyond, governments were urged to deploy effective digital technologies to contain the outbreak. It was highlighted that the crisis has exposed the need for government leadership in the development and adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to ensure an effective provision of public services. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of technology, but also the pivotal role of an effective, inclusive, and accountable government. The United Nations has highlighted that information and communication technologies have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. The crisis has accelerated the digitalization of many businesses and services, including teleworking and video conferencing systems in and out of the workplace, as well as access to healthcare, education, and essential goods and services.

According to PIN Community Manager, Thobekile Matimbe, as we reflect on our fundamental rights and freedoms, it is critical to highlight that digital rights are human rights. Digital rights are the rights that have enabled education in our African countries and provided a platform for the enjoyment of quality life. As we embrace the new normal, we urge African States to ensure better recovery from the effects of the pandemic by embracing technology and enabling internet access to marginalized communities and vulnerable groups, she added.

In ensuring that information relevant to human rights protection is accessible, PIN reminds African States to adhere to Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Principle 37 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (the declaration) which provides that States shall facilitate the rights to freedom of expression and access to information online and the means necessary to exercise these rights. States are also called to recognize that universal, equitable, affordable and meaningful access to the internet is necessary for the realization of freedom of expression, access to information, and the exercise of other human rights. The declaration further states that in providing access to the internet, States shall take specific measures to ensure that marginalized groups have an effective exercise of their rights online as well as adopt laws, policies, and other measures to promote affordable access to the internet for children that equip them with digital literacy skills for online education and safety, protect them from online harm and safeguards their privacy and identity.

During the pandemic and beyond, it is pertinent that discrimination and inequalities are left behind in favor of a bridged digital divide and closed inequality gap. PIN is ever ready to partner with governments and the private sector to ensure we recover better during the pandemic.

To celebrate the day and bring the theme to life, PIN is launching a digital rights toolkit for human rights and other civil society actors. In a comment by PIN’s Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan, “PIN and its partners are launching Ayeta, a Digital Rights Toolkit to prepare civil society actors for when their work puts them in harm’s way. The virtual launch will hold at 11 am GMT, on December 10, and you can join the event by signing up at https://bit.ly/AyetaLaunch. Recent events across Africa, some of which are captured in our upcoming Digital Rights and Inclusion 2020 Report, make this year’s Human Rights Day theme a lot more apt and I hope that Ayeta proves to be a useful tool in digital rights protection.”

 

 

 

 

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