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Nigeria: What’s A Democracy Without Free Speech?

By | Digital Rights, Internet Freedom, Press Release

As far back as 2016, the Paradigm Initiative has been vocal against two provisions in the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act. We have argued at Trial, Appellate and now the Supreme Court that Sections 38 and 24 of the Act serve as legal backing for oppressive actions. 

Section 24 of the Act states that: 

Any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means of computer systems or network that…he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another…commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not more than N7,000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment. 

This above notorious provision has fueled the fire of oppression by political leaders against journalists, bloggers and common citizens who dare to communicate dissenting opinions or controversial opinions. 

It must be known that Freedom of Expression also encapsulates the freedom to communicate dissenting, controversial, difficult and even annoying opinions. However, since the Cybercrime Act was passed, the law has been used by politicians and the wealthy to harass and intimidate  citizens who voice dissent or criticism.

It came to our notice over the Eid-al-Fitr holiday that journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi, has become yet another victim of this draconian law. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, using his political influence ordered the arrest of the journalist’s wife (locked up for 8 days), and two brothers (locked up for 9 & 2 days respectively) before the journalist turned himself in to the police. 

The Journalist has now been charged for Cyberstalking; ‘for causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will to go to the current Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohamed.’

Whether or not the poem rendered by the journalist was critical of the Minister, it is universally agreed that a nation that would practice Democracy must welcome criticism. In fact, criticism, no matter how crude and hurtful, must be anticipated and even welcomed by public officers in a democracy. What is a democratic nation, if public leaders cannot take feedback and criticism from the people they serve? What is a democratic nation, if laws are enacted to criminalize free speech? What is a democratic nation, if the people’s representatives, punish the people for speaking? 

We use this opportunity to shine light on a similar case; the case of Human Rights Activist, Gabriel Ogbonna who was arrested and detained over an alleged false publication (on Facebook) against the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and charged with conspiracy and Cyber Terrorism. This highly politically motivated arrest, subsequent detention and irrational charge reveals the endemic oppression that has plagued Law Enforcement and is being fueled by the Cybercrime Act against Nigerian citizens. 

It is known that as an Organization, we wholeheartedly condemn the criminalization of free speech by the government. And now, we condemn the action by the Nigerian Police Force in these instances, not only being used as a tool of oppression but also carrying our unlawful arrests and detentions in the process. 

Before our eyes, the ethos of integrity and respect for human beings is rapidly deteriorating in Nigeria; proxy arrests are being carried out and innocent people locked up just to lure a suspect to present himself. Furthermore, the law is turning a blind eye to these atrocities and our government has chosen only to serve the rich. Worse still, the country is creating an environment that frowns against dissent, criticism and free speech. 

Paradigm Initiative hereby condemns the unlawful actions of the Police with regard to arrests and detention in the Rotimi Jolayemi case and the Gabriel Ogbonna case and calls on those involved to recognize the danger of these actions to the collective wellbeing of the country and desist forthwith. We also condemn the use of state resources and institutions such as the DSS and the Police to settle personal grouse, massage bruised ego, and oppress vulnerable citizens. 

Digital Rights: How Francophone Africa is bracing for COVID-19’s impact?

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

The entire world has recorded more than 5.3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19; 2.12 million cases cured and 342 thousand deaths as of May 22, 2020. Francophone Africa countries are also affected in large numbers by the pandemic. In May 2020, this part of the continent experienced a growth in cases of infected people with an increase in the number of deaths, despite the preventive measures initiated by various countries. 

At the start of the pandemic in Africa, in February 2020, measures to fight against Covid-19 displayed a real indirect strategy of digital rights violations by certain governments. However, in certain countries, measures contributing to the desire to improve the conditions of use of digital, necessary for the respect of digital rights have been observed.

The context of digital rights in Francophone Africa is particular even in times of crisis. Cases of violation of digital rights during electoral periods or post-electoral crises are a reminder of the behavior of governments in the management of digital rights in crisis times. The Covid-19 period is therefore not clearly different. Several governments have displayed a face of non-respect of digital rights, but also of the desire to exploit the digital divide for socio-political purposes. Other countries having become aware of the consequences of non-compliance with digital rights, have expressed some progress, notably Gabon,Togo and the DRC, amongst others

In general, the appearance of Covid-19 has urged governments to take a series of  measures against the pandemic with human rights impacts in some cases. The standard of living in the region does not allow populations in confinement and is almost inactive to benefit from quality of digital services.

From Cameroon to Rwanda, or from Morocco to Burundi, certain governments with the assistance of mobile telephone operators have reduced the prices of Internet, and strengthened the stability and confidence of the network.

Cases of human rights violations on the Internet are reflected in some countries by cases of indirect arrests of people, mass control and surveillance of populations, fragmented management of personal data, instability of the Internet and the poor quality of the internet connection with some operators was recorded at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, notably in Cameroon, Algeria and Morocco amongst others

Mixed situation in Cameroon

At the start of the crisis, the mobile operators: Camtel, Orange and MTN have announced support measures during the confinement period. Camtel, a public telecommunications company, has made an attractive offer, but not free, for Internet connection prices for 150 GB at around 20 USD per month. Operators Mtn and Orange have meanwhile lowered the prices of mobile financial transactions.

On the other hand, the Covid-19 period was impacted by the rise of fake news on the Covid-19 and on the country’s political situation in social media, prompting the authorities to initiate actions against some internet users. In April 2020, a letter from the office of the President of the Republic gave instructions to the Director of the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC) in order to track all the accounts spreading false information and fake news on platforms like Facebook by using technological means

Also in the context of actions to fight against the pandemic, the opposition political party, Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) through its President, Maurice Kamto had initiated fundraising actions to support some needy Cameroonians affected by the crisis. The Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, had considered this action illegal by sending correspondence to the Directors General of MTN and Orange requesting the closure of the Mobile Money and Orange Money accounts intended for this fundraising effort. The organizers of this operation considered the disruption of their accounts as a manifest violation of their rights related to digital online payment services.

Covid-19 and management of personal data

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In February and March, especially in Cameroon and other countries in the region, passengers from foreign countries suspected of carrying the virus saw their data and identities on the internet, but also on social media. Several cases of deaths have been identified as carriers of Covid-19 before being sometimes denied by the family or relatives. During this period of crisis, the families and relatives of Covid-19 patients fear the disclosure of their status on social media, which can accentuate the stigma.

The use of personal data is considered by certain countries in the world as an effective means of combating Covid-19. This opportunity for Africa could cause more problems than solutions in a context where few countries have a law on the protection of personal data. Rasha Abdul Rahim, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, on this trend in the use of personal data says that ” Technology can play an important role in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this does not give for as much carte blanche to governments to extend digital surveillance. Recent history shows us that governments are reluctant to give up temporary surveillance powers, and we must not allow ourselves to be dragged into a state of permanent widespread surveillance . ”

Morocco: arrests for fake news

Third Case of Coronavirus in Egypt of an Egyptian Returning From ...

In early March 2020, the video of two Moroccans who were shooting hoaxes in the street by announcing to people that they had been contaminated abroad by Covid-19 “to see their reactions” were arrested in Marrakech. The police authorities had already announced in the same period the arrest of a resident of Tetouan (north) who had announced in a video on social media to “register dead people linked to the virus”. On Thursday March 19, a bill n° 22.20 relating to the use of social networks and similar channels in the country was adopted and presented by the Minister of Justice, and was not long in being applied in Morocco. The government in several press releases had reported that “All legal provisions will be taken (…) to identify the persons involved in the publication of these allegations and lies”.

Algeria: an example?

Kuwait's total coronavirus cases rise to 61 – Middle East Monitor

Algeria is considered to be one of the countries that provided a rapid and positive response during the Covid-19 period for the development of digital infrastructure in the country and the improvement of online confidence. During the Council of Ministers on March 22, 2020, Algeria made the decision to accelerate its digital transformation through the “Digital Transition Initiative”. Tunisian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the current situation is “also an opportunity for us to realize the vulnerability of our national economy, due to our neglect for decades to free it from oil rent”.

The Algerian Modernization Initiative applies on several levels: the protection of personal data based on Law No. 18-07 of June 10, 2018, the digitization of the central administration, documents and administrative forms, the generalization of databases based on the national identification number (NIN), the creation of a control panel for decision-making and monitoring of government projects. The Initiative also includes the modernization of the government’s Internet network to ensure liaison between the departments. The project also offers several practical measures, including a digital service platform for citizens.

Covid-19 and e-learning

Tablets Transform Lives of Young Refugees in Sub-Saharan Africa

According to UNESCO, the digital divide  is particularly marked in low-income countries: in sub-Saharan Africa, over 89% of learners do not have access to home computers and 82% do not have access to the Internet. About 56 million learners live in places not served by mobile networks, almost half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Online training for learners in confinement in the Francophone part of Africa is a constraint which presents the reality of the disparity in the development of telecommunications infrastructures and therefore of violation of the digital rights of various Africans, unable to benefit from the digital online training services. The lack of quality infrastructure during the Covid-19 era is one aspect that accentuates disparity, the digital divide and violations of digital rights. 

Countries like Rwanda, Egypt and many others who have invested seriously in digitalization over the years, today serve as examples in terms of the fruits they derive from digital in these hours of global health crisis. For the moment, the practices which contribute to the respect of digital rights from the particular case to the general is important. 

The author of this article, Rigobert Kenmogne is Paradigm Initiative Digital rights program officer  in Francophone Africa

Impact du Covid-19 sur les droits numériques en Afrique Francophone

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

Le monde d’entier a enregistré plus de 5,3 millions de cas confirmés du coronavirus (Covid-19) avec 2,12 millions de cas guéris et 342 000 décès au 24 mai 2020. Les pays d’Afrique sont aussi touchés par la pandémie sur le continent africain. Au mois de mai 2020, cette partie du continent a connu une croissance des cas de personnes contaminées avec une augmentation du nombre de morts, malgré les mesures barrières initiées par différents pays. La particularité de la crise sanitaire dans cette région du continent ayant enregistré diverses violations des droits l’homme en ligne ces dernières années est remarquable.

Au début de la pandémie en Afrique, en février 2020, des mesures de lutte contre le Covid-19 ont affiché une réelle stratégie indirecte de violation des droits numériques par certains gouvernements. Néanmoins dans certains pays, des mesures contribuant à la volonté d’améliorer les conditions d’utilisation du numérique, nécessaires pour le respect des droits numériques ont été observées.

Le contexte des droits numériques en Afrique francophone est particulier même en temps de crise. Les cas de violation des droits numériques lors des périodes électorales ou des crises post-électorales rappellent le comportement des gouvernants dans la gestion des droits numériques en période de crise. La période du Covid-19 n’est donc pas manifestement différente. Plusieurs gouvernements ont affiché un visage de non-respect des droits numériques, mais aussi de la volonté d’instrumentalisation de la fracture numérique à des fins socio-politiques. D’autres pays ayant pris conscience des conséquences du non-respect des droits numériques, ont exprimé quelques avancées, notamment le Gabon, l’Algérie, le Togo, la RDC…

De manière générale, l’apparition du Covid-19 a poussé les gouvernements à prendre un ensemble de mesures barrières contre la pandémie avec des impacts les droits humains dans certains cas. Le niveau de vie dans la région ne permet pas aux populations en confinement et presque inactives de bénéficier des services digitaux de qualité.

Du Cameroun au Rwanda, ou du Maroc au Burundi, certains gouvernements avec le concours des opérateurs de téléphonie mobile ont allégé la connexion du réseau Internet par la réduction des prix de connexion, en renforçant la stabilité et la confiance du réseau.

Des cas de figure de violations des droits humains sur Internet se traduisent dans certains pays par des cas d’arrestations indirectes des personnes, le contrôle de masse et la surveillance des populations, la gestion parcellaire des données personnelles, l’instabilité du réseau Internet et la mauvaise qualité de la connexion Internet chez certains opérateurs ont été enregistrées au début de la pandémie du Covid-19 notamment au Cameroun, en Algérie, au Maroc…

Situation mitigée au Cameroun

Face au Covid-19, le Nigeria reste l'un des pays les mieux ...Au début de la crise, les opérateurs de téléphonie mobile : Camtel, Orange et MTN ont annoncé des mesures d’accompagnement en période de confinement. La Camtel, entreprise publique de télécommunication, a fait une offre alléchante, mais pas gratuite pour les prix de connexion Internet pour 150 Go à environ 20 USD le mois. Les opérateurs Mtn et Orange ont quant à eux, ont baissé les prix des transactions financières mobiles.

De l’autre côté, la période du Covid-19 a été impactée par la montée des fake news sur le Covid-19 et sur la situation politique du pays dans les réseaux sociaux, poussant les autorités à initier des actions contre certains utilisateurs Internet. Au mois d’avril 2020, un courrier du cabinet du Président de la République donnait des instructions au Directeur de l’Agence Nationale des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (ANTIC) afin de traquer par des moyens technologiques tous les comptes qui diffusent les fausses informations et fake news sur les plateformes comme Facebook.

Aussi dans le cadre des actions de luttes contre la pandémie, le parti politique de l’opposition, Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun (MRC) à travers son président, Maurice Kamto avait initié des actions de collecte de fonds afin soutenir les nécessiteux en période de crise. Le ministre de l’Administration Territoriale, Paul Atanga Nji, avait considéré cette action comme illégale en adressant des correspondances aux Directeurs généraux de MTN et Orange demandant la fermeture des comptes Mobile Money et Orange Money destinés aux collectes des fonds. Les organisateurs de cette opération de collecte ont considéré la suspension de leurs comptes comme une violation manifeste de leurs droits liés aux services digitaux de paiement en ligne.

Covid-19 et gestion des données personnelles


Covid-19 : en Europe, les applications de traçage se développent ...

Au début de la crise sanitaire, et notamment au Cameroun et dans d’autres pays de la région, les passagers venus des pays étrangers et soupçonnés d’être porteurs du virus ont vu leurs données et identités sur Internet, mais aussi sur les réseaux sociaux. Plusieurs cas de morts ont été identifiés comme porteurs de Covid-19 avant d’être parfois démentis par la famille ou les proches. Durant cette période de crise, les familles et les proches des malades du Covid-19 craignent la divulgation de leur statut sur les réseaux sociaux, ce qui peut accentuer la stigmatisation.

L’utilisation des données personnelles est considérée par certains pays dans le monde comme un moyen efficace de lutter contre le Covid-19. Cette opportunité pour l’Afrique pourrait causer plus de problèmes que de solutions dans un contexte où peu de pays ont une loi sur la protection des données personnelles. Rasha Abdul Rahim, directrice adjointe d’Amnesty Tech, sur cette tendance de l’utilisation des données personnelles déclare que « la technologie peut jouer un rôle important dans le combat mondial contre la pandémie de Covid-19, cependant, cela ne donne pas pour autant carte blanche aux gouvernements pour étendre la surveillance numérique. L’histoire récente nous montre que les gouvernements sont réticents à renoncer aux pouvoirs de surveillance temporaires, et nous ne devons pas nous laisser entraîner sans réagir dans un état de surveillance généralisée permanent ».

Maroc : les arrestations pour fake news

Covid-19 : Augmentation du nombre des victimes au Maroc, en ...

En début du mois de mars 2020, deux Marocains qui tournaient des vidéos canulars dans la rue en annonçant à des passants avoir été contaminés à l’étranger par le Covid-19 « pour voir leurs réactions » ont été arrêtées à Marrakech. La direction de la police avait déjà annoncé dans la même période l’interpellation d’un habitant de Tetouan (nord) qui avait annoncé dans une vidéo avoir « enregistrer des personnes mortes liées au virus ». Le jeudi 19 mars, un projet de loi n° 22.20 relatif à l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux et canaux similaires dans le pays a été adopté et présenté par le ministre de la Justice, et n’a pas tardé pour être appliqué au Maroc. Le gouvernement dans plusieurs communiqués avait signalé que « toutes les dispositions légales seraient prises (…) en vue d’identifier les personnes impliquées dans la publication de ces allégations et mensonges ».

Algérie : un cas d’exemple ?

Adoption de la chloroquine en Algérie : Les explications du ...

L’Algérie est considérée comme l’un des pays ayant apporté une réponse rapide et positive en période du Covid-19 pour le développement des infrastructures du numérique dans le pays et l’amélioration de la confiance en ligne. Lors du Conseil des ministres du 22 mars 2020, l’Algérie a pris la décision, d’accélérer sa transformation numérique à travers « l’Initiative de transition numérique ». Le président tunisien, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a indiqué que la situation actuelle est « également une occasion pour nous de prendre conscience de la vulnérabilité de notre économie nationale, en raison de notre négligence pendant des décennies à la libérer de la rente pétrolière ».

L’Initiative de la modernisation algérienne s’applique à plusieurs niveaux : la protection des données à caractère personnel basée sur la loi n° 18-07 du 10 juin 2018, la numérisation de l’administration centrale, des documents et des formulaires administratifs, la généralisation des bases de données sur la base du numéro d’identification national (NIN), la création d’un tableau de commande pour la prise de décisions et le suivi des projets gouvernementaux. L’Initiative intègre aussi la modernisation du réseau Internet gouvernemental pour assurer la liaison entre les ministères. Le projet propose également plusieurs mesures pratiques, dont une plateforme de services numériques pour les citoyens.

Covid-19 et e-learning

Radio Learning for Kids Schools Closed COVID-19 - GlobalGiving

Selon l’UNESCO, les disparités sont particulièrement marquées dans les pays à faible revenu : en Afrique subsaharienne, plus 89 % des apprenants n’ont pas accès aux ordinateurs familiaux et 82 % n’ont pas accès à l’Internet. Environ 56 millions d’apprenants vivent en des lieux non desservis par les réseaux mobiles, dont près de la moitié en Afrique subsaharienne. Les formations en ligne pour les apprenants en confinement dans la partie francophone d’Afrique est une contrainte qui présente le visage de la disparité dans le développement des infrastructures de télécommunications et donc de violation des droits numériques de divers plusieurs Africains, incapables de bénéficier des services digitaux de formation en ligne. Le manque d’infrastructure de qualité en période de Covid-19 est un aspect qui accentue la disparité, la fracture numérique et les violations des droits numériques.

Des pays comme le Rwanda, l’Égypte et bien d’autres qui ont investi sérieusement dans la numérisation au fil des années, servent aujourd’hui d’exemples au regard des fruits qu’ils tirent du numérique en ces heures de crise sanitaire mondiale. Il reste pour le moment de s’accentuant les pratiques qui concourent au respect des droits numériques du cas particulier au général.

L’auteur de cet article, Rigobert Kenmogne est responsable droits numériques en Afrique Francophone pour Paradigm Initiative

 

 

Why We Have Not Given Up on Processes: Making FOI Requests in Nigeria

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

In the Civil Society space, it is almost trite to state that ‘Freedom of Information’ is an essential freedom. We advocate for the passage of laws that uphold this Freedom and after they are enacted we advocate for systems to ensure they are enforced. 

In Nigeria, the first phase of this advocacy journey was completed in 2011 when the President signed the Freedom of Information Bill into Law. It took years but we were grateful for its enactment.  We have also followed the journey of the Right to Information Bill in Ghana which was assented to by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on May 21 2019. 

While we celebrate the passage and assent of these laws, we are however expending time and resources focusing on putting the law to use. The thinking is that if a Freedom exists then we should be able to exercise it and if we can’t then we need to find out why. 

If you ever sent a Freedom of Information request to a public institution in Nigeria, the chances that you got a response to your request are dangerously low. Somehow it would seem that the freedom to access information exists only as a concept with no corresponding obligation on those who hold the information (to supply it). 

But indeed such obligation clearly exists in the very law that vests and affirms the right. As an Organization, we have sent a wide range of FOIs touching on our thematic focus and have had a range of experiences from multiple requests and from one Public Institution to another . However, despite disappointing realities such as the total ignoring of our requests sometimes, we still believe in the processes set down in the law and are always willing to  legally challenge such refusals. 

One of such scenarios presented itself in 2017 when we wrote a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Science and Technology regarding information on the building and launch of two of two new satellites by the National Administration of Space Research and Development Agency (NASDRA). We were interested in the intended use of the satellites and their specifications. 

It’s good to pause here to explain the rationale behind FOI Requests. We have found that many regard the request for information as a criticism of work or disagreement with policy, but that’s not necessarily true . At the heart of the FOI requests we send, is a genuine inquiry into facts. As we all know, fake news and the spread of false information have attempted to devalue the quality of public discourse and knowledge. So, when we ask public institutions clear questions, we are attempting to elicit the right information from the right sources. 

That said, our request to the Ministry of Science and Technology was not granted. As many Civil Society Organizations will attest to, this is not a strange ‘reaction’ from a public institution. For us however, the fact that this reaction was anticipated did not make it acceptable. 

Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act clearly provides that any applicant who has been denied access to information to apply to the Court for a review of the matter within 30 days after the public institution denies the application. So we took advantage of that provision and approached the court seeking for a declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to disclose or make available to the applicants the information amounts to a violation of the applicants’ right of access. We also sought for a Declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to disclose information amounts to wrongful denial of access to information and finally prayed the court for an order of mandamus compelling the respondent to disclose the specifications of the two new satellites and the details of their intended use.

We argued our case and so did the Ministry. Particularly, the Ministry argued that since the information was not under their supervision, it was impracticable for them to supply it. They also argued that the Agency (NASDRA) had no immediate plan to build and launch new satellites. This argument, though simple, revealed something profound to us. If the Ministry had simply responded to our FOI request with the information that the Agency had no immediate plans to build and launch new satellites, we doubt that we would have had to resort to the Courts. We wondered (and still wonder) if we could conclude that the Nigerian public institution would rather answer to the courts than to the citizens.  

The Court reviewed our arguments vis-a-vis applicable laws and reiterated that Section 7 of the Act gives us the right of access to the court to compel the release of the information. The court also pointed out that the law allows the original public institution to transfer the request for information to another agency which it believes has the information that is being requested from it. 

Finally, the court granted all our reliefs and ordered that the Respondents grant the request sought and where they are not in possession of the information requested, they should explain so in a letter and anchor their explanations under legally stipulated exemptions. We were also awarded the cost of N100,000 in our favour. 

This was yet another interesting reveal where we saw the balance of the scale of justice  leaning towards rights and affirming the responsibilities that have to be carried out  in order for those rights to be effectively exercised. 

Of course, we attempted to enforce this judgment but that has proven difficult in itself especially because the subject in focus is arguably moot. 

But we have gotten more from this case than a response to our letter might have given. We have tested the law and it worked, at least in this scenario. We have seen a court of competent jurisdiction hold a public institution accountable to the people it serves and we have strengthened our commitment to seeking, sharing and addressing public information from the proper sources.  This is why we have not given up on processes. 

The author of this article, Adeboro Odunlami is a Legal Officer at Paradigm Initiative

 

Vacancy: Human Resources Manager

By | DigitalJobs

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for underserved African youth. Our programs include digital inclusion programs – such as the Life Skills. ICT. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program and the Dufuna program – and a digital rights program. PIN’s operational headquarters is in Lagos, Nigeria, and maintains digital inclusion offices across Nigeria (Aba, Ajegunle, Kano) and digital rights offices in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.

The Human Resources Manager will provide executive-level leadership and guidance to the organization’s HR operations. The ideal candidate will be responsible for setting, enforcing and evaluating legally compliant human resources policies, procedures, and best practices; also identifying and implementing long-range strategic talent management goals. She (or he) will develop, implement and monitor HR strategies and initiatives aligned with Paradigm Initiative’s Best Place to Work initiative and Strategic Management Plan.

Responsibilities

  1. Recruitment/ Induction/ Exit Formalities:
  • Supervising complete recruitment life-cycle for sourcing the best talent from diverse sources after identification of (wo)manpower requirements
  • Shortlisting resumes, arranging technical training for the staff, verifying documents, and conducting employment screening (background verification) of potential employees
  • Formulating and implementing best HR practices, policies and initiatives aiming at employee welfare and retention, as part of PIN’s Best Place to Work initiative 
  • Conducting exit interviews and overseeing separation actions, including full final final settlements
  1. Performance Management
  • Identifying key performance indicators for the organization’s human resource and talent management functions; assessing the organization’s success and market competitiveness based on these metrics
  • Managing appraisal processes across the levels and establishing a framework for substantiating performance appraisal systems linked to reward management
  • Handling entire performance appraisal process across levels and establishing framework for substantiating performance appraisal system linked to reward management
  • Identifying training needs across levels through mapping of skills required for positions and analysis of the existing level of competencies.
  1. Talent Development
  • Identifying training and development needs within the organization through job analysis, appraisal schemes and regular consultation with Team Leads 
  • Designing and expanding training and development programs based on both the organization’s and the individual’s needs as well as developing effective induction programs
  1. Compensation and Benefits
  • Researching, developing and implementing competitive compensation, benefits, performance appraisal, and employee incentive programs
  • Preparing and submitting the Annual Budget for all personnel costs to the Finance and Asset Manager
  • Drafting and implementing the organization’s staffing budget, and the budget for the human resource department
  • Compiling all data needed for the annual salary review, and the annual performance appraisal analysis
  1. Employee Welfare and Engagement
  • Collaborating with executive leadership to define the organization’s long-term mission and goals; identifying ways to support this mission through talent management
  • Providing guidance and leadership to the human resource management team; assisting with resolution of human resource, compensation, and benefits questions, concerns, and issues
  • Undertaking employee engagement activities and policy driven processes for various celebrations of employees and giving awards to the best employees for their performances.
  1. General Administration
  • Handling all human resources administrative activities
  • Monitoring adherence to statutory regulations and compliance with various governmental agencies; monitoring disciplinary issues and legal matters.
  • Ensuring compliance with employment, benefits, insurance, safety, and other laws, regulations, and requirements
  • Maintaining knowledge of laws, regulations, and best practices in employment law, human resources, and talent management
  • Preparing reports on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis
  • Reviewing staff weekly reports to ensure compliance, work progress and follow-up, as necessary 
  • Participating in professional development and networking conferences and events
  • Performing other duties as assigned

Required Skills

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and conflict resolution skills
  • Excellent organizational skills, follow-through attitude and attention to detail
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong supervisory and leadership skills
  • Thorough knowledge of employment-related laws and regulations
  • Knowledge of, and experience with, various human resource information systems
  • Excellent mastery of diverse productivity software and cloud-based efficiency management tools
  • Working knowledge of French (in addition to English) desired

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Psychology, Business Administration, or related field required; Masters highly preferred
  • 8-10  years of human resource management experience required, with strategic, talent management, and/or business development experience highly preferred
  • Experience in multiple countries across Africa, especially in East Africa, Francophone Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa desired
  • Previous experience in the development sector is an advantage
  • SHRM, HRCI and other industry certifications strongly preferred

Key Result Areas

  • Overseeing the daily workflow process of the organisation’s units
  • Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training the staff of the organization
  • Developing overall HR strategies, systems, tactics and procedures across the organization
  • Overseeing and managing a performance appraisal system that drives high performance. Providing constructive and timely performance evaluations
  • Developing, implementing and monitoring HR strategies and initiatives aligned with Paradigm Initiative’s Best Place to Work initiative and Strategic Management Plan

Salaries and Benefits

Commensurate with experience, plus other benefits such as health insurance, pension contributions, communication allowance, sabbatical leave, paid leave, maternity/paternity leave, dependent relative allowance and 13th-month salary.

How To Apply

Apply via this form

Deadline:

29th May, 2020 (Do apply immediately, if you are interested in the role, as applications will be reviewed as received, and candidates may be shortlisted and interviewed before the closing date.)

Resumption: July 1st, 2020.

The CoronaVirus pandemic reminds us that Digital Rights are Human Rights

By | Digital Rights

On January 9, 2020, at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Annex building in Abuja, the Presidential Broadband Committee held another session to set an agenda for the provision of affordable and reliable broadband access for the over 190 million Nigerians. Together with input from the private sector, civil society and other professionals, their goal was to ensure that the gains of Nigeria’s Broadband Plan 2013 – 2018 were expanded upon in the new plan. Nigeria’s new Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 was published in March and set the agenda for the development of broadband infrastructure in Nigeria for the next five years.

Among the select organizations presenting evidence at the Broadband Committee’s session in January was Paradigm Initiative. A facet of our contribution focused on the need for accurate measurement of broadband access metrics in Nigeria. This is to ensure that reliable statistics on how many Nigerians really have access to broadband, and the quality of broadband quality of service, is captured. Our reasoning was that in Africa it is often the case that dodgy statistics are on display which paints far rosier pictures than the reality. Thankfully that was not the case with Nigeria.

Advocacy for affordable and quality broadband access is one of the major thrust of the work of Paradigm Initiative’s digital inclusion effort. Working out of digital inclusion training centres in Ajegunle Lagos, Aba, and Kano in Nigeria; and through research and policy advocacy in our Yaba Lagos and Abuja offices, we are always working to ensure that Nigerians reap the optimum benefits of connectivity to the digital. After all, that’s the mission of Paradigm Initiative, clearly stated on the organization’s website—‘’Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth“.

Yet many a time it is abundantly clear that even for those for whom advocacy organizations advocate for, the issues for which we tirelessly advocate for are unclear. Public interest advocacy can be a very lonely fight. For instance, during the course of Paradigm Initiative’s advocacy work, we have sometimes been termed ‘’busy-bodies“. Yet, as the world battles the COVID – 19 pandemic, the suffering and deprivation the global pandemic has foisted on the world perhaps presents in sharp relief why digital rights advocacy is so important. In fact, we need not look at the broad subject of digital rights in its entirety, we only need to examine broadband accessibility and affordability and its impact on education.

In Nigeria which already boasts over 10 million out-of-school children, the COVID – 19 pandemic has now ensured that even those who had access to schools have now been denied access to education because schools have been shut down to prevent the spread of the pandemic. And while children in the developed nations of the world might have the luxury of online connections to their classrooms because of well developed, standardized national broadband infrastructure which ensures that broadband is a commonplace utility which is readily available for low and middle-income households, in Nigeria only the financial elite can afford the data costs which guarantees that level of uninterrupted, seamless, quality access to classrooms in this pandemic. In the Nigerian context, we are not talking here of the capped data plans such as 1 Gigabyte, 2 Gigabytes or 5 Gigabytes of data. We’re probably talking about the unlimited data plans which allow unlimited streaming or at the very least the very large capped data plans (above 100Gigabytes) monthly.

I might go into details of Nigeria’s Gross National Income per Capita ($5710 at 2018), or extreme poverty rate (about 50%), here to buttress this. However, it could be enough to simply ask this question, ’’How many of you reading this article can conveniently fork out the approximately N20,000—N25,000 ($50—$62.50) per month to secure the unlimited data plans, or the higher capped data plans described above?”. In a country where many salaries hover around the N30,000 ($75) minimum wage, many will find such monthly data costs prohibitive. The reality is probably that millions of parents who have managed to put their children through school will personally homeschool them, with all the flaws and gaps that come with that. The children of the financial elite will come out of this pandemic several paces ahead.

So there it is. Digital rights advocacy, rather than being a very abstract thing, is laid very bare in our sights as it relates to the quality of educational experiences children will face during this lockdown. In the advocacy meetings, research, coalition building and other activities that organizations such as Paradigm Initiative does, this is the crux of the matter. Access, or the lack of it, to affordable and quality broadband will enhance or stunt human development and potential. We probably didn’t need a pandemic to tell us that.

The author, Babatunde Okunoye is Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative

 

 

Paradigm Initiative and Start up by A&E law develop Draft COVID-19 Regulations

By | Press Release

In a virtual policy sprint that lasted for 72 hours, Startup by A&E Law and Paradigm Initiative led the development of a draft Coronavirus Regulation which States in Nigeria can adopt to guide their response to the global pandemic. The Regulation which was drafted in line with the Quarantine Act (CAP Q2 LFN 2004) sets out a defined lockdown period during which a State Governor may impose such restrictions as may be necessary to help forestall the pandemic. The Draft also has provisions to ensure adherence to defined timeframes to ensure proportionality in its application. The Draft Regulation which has 12 clauses also sets out the declarations prescribed by the Quarantine Act on a dangerous infectious disease and the local area (State) to which it applies.

While speaking on the development, Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager, Digital Rights, Adeboye Adegoke says that “We have worked with Startup by A&E Law and other members of the Nigerian community online to produce a standard Regulation that reflects our shared commitment to combating this pandemic. As a digital right organisation, we ensured that the draft has digital rights provision to safeguard against potential abuse and to ensure that the measures being taken by States at this time are lawful, necessary, appropriate, periodic, and transparent.

Speaking on the Policy Sprint,  Naro Omo-Osagie of Start-up by A&E Law described it as a glimpse into law and policymaking in an increasingly digitized future. She added that they were inspired to Crowdsource a Draft Regulation for Nigerian States after the Covid19 Policy Hackathon organized by LawyersHub Kenya. She expressed her appreciation to all the individuals and organizations whose support and guidance contributed to the final document. She thanked Lawyers Hub Kenya, the Africa Law Tech Association and in particular, Paradigm Initiative whose collaboration and input made the sprint possible. On the Draft Regulations, she further stated that Startup by A&E Law is happy to connect with States seeking to adopt the Draft Regulations for their own use.

About the Organizers

Startup by A&E Law is a specialized division of A&E Law Partnership and the Convener of the Nigeria Tech Law Forum. They offer expertise in Startup Law, Tech Policy, and Business Development for early-stage companies. Through their online platforms, they connect entrepreneurs with practical tools and legal solutions to help grow their businesses. You can find them online at www.startupbyaandelaw.com  and on Instagram and Twitter @startupbyande..

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights. Its digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Accra, Ghana; Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa).

 

 

Paradigm Initiative concerned about ongoing plans to use MTN customer data to fight COVID-19 in Nigeria

By | Press Release

Abuja, April 9, 2020 – Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa, is deeply concerned about the Nigeria Governors’ Forum’s attempts to collaborate with telcos to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In these austere moments when the vulnerability of humans, and the community at large, is at its peak, Paradigm Initiative is still committed to protecting the digital rights of Africans from further vulnerabilities. 

A report that MTN & the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have entered into a data-sharing partnership, following a presentation by MTN, to mine and provide its users’ data “to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus” came to our attention. 

While efforts to mitigate and control the spread and sting of this novel coronavirus are appreciated, the existing and sacred fundamental rights of users MUST be protected at all times. 

First, it is important to iterate that, no other time than now presents MTN and other Mobile Network Operators with the opportunity to “be transparent with the public about the sharing of Mobile Operator Data with Governments or Agencies” and to “help counter misinformation and raise awareness of data sharing to help combat COVID-19”. This is further buttressed by the COVID-19 Privacy Guidelines released by the GSM Association (GSMA) on April 6.

However, in light of the report, Paradigm Initiative humbly asserts that it does not lie in the power of MTN to arbitrarily use, distribute or grant third-party access for the processing of users’ data. Information such as the travel history of MTN users, their current location, and other sensitive information are private data that should absolutely not be commodity in a partnership, irrespective of noble intentions. 

The reported sharing (or potential sharing) of users’ personal data by MTN to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) will constitute a sheer breach of users’ trust and would adversely hamper on the right to the privacy of data of its users especially if the data being shared is personally identifiable data. 

According to the GSMA COVID-19 Privacy Guidelines, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) should “take proactive steps to implement privacy best practices… and consider the ethical implications of lawful sharing of Mobile Operator Data for the purposes of helping Governments or Agencies to contain, delay or research the spread of the virus or to mitigate its impact on public health”. 

 We are all navigating through this time with no playbook – there is definitely a global need for innovation by the government, private companies and even citizens alike. Things are changing and thinking outside the box has become a survival skill but some things do not change. And one of such is that data subjects have the right to privacy of their data and such right may only be derogated from in constitutionally stipulated conditions and IMPORTANTLY, by legally stipulated processes. 

The GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines advise MNOs such as MTN to “engage with Governments or Agencies and, where appropriate courts, to seek clarity when the legal basis for a request is unclear or uncertain or where additional emergency powers may be required to support a request”. 

If the NGF believes that accessing and processing the location and travel history data of MTN users is the most innovative way to help public health in Nigeria, then Paradigm Initiative calls on the Forum to follow the legally stipulated process to transparently secure such data. Alternatively, MTN may share “insights or aggregated non-identifiable data… to the extent that they are truly anonymous” in accordance with the GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines. 

Even in the sharing of insights or aggregated non-identifiable data, both MTN and the NGF must engage in the process in a lawful and fair manner, taking all circumstances and potential impacts into account. According to the GSMA COVID-19 Guidelines: “To the extent the request is based on a specific law in the interests of public security that such laws are necessary and proportionate to achieve a specified and legitimate aim that is consistent with internationally recognised privacy standards, human rights and other relevant laws.”

Finally, it is important to iterate that fundamental rights are still fundamental even in a pandemic. Decisions made, and actions taken, during crises will be with us when the crisis ends so we should avoid creating a problem in the name of solving another problem.

For more comments or feedback on this press release, please contact Paradigm Initiative’s Legal Officer, Adeboro Odunlami, at adeboro.odunlami@paradigmhq.org.

Africa: Encroaching on Digital Rights Under the Pretext of Containing COVID-19?  

By | Digital Rights, Internet Freedom

Digital rights violations in Africa have become commonplace in the past decade, with Internet shutdowns, social media app disruptions, illegal surveillance, arrest of citizens (for comments made online) and data privacy violations, amongst others, becoming regular occurrences. At Paradigm Initiative, our constant monitoring of the digital rights scene on the continent feeds into our advocacy work, and into our annual Digital Rights in Africa Report, the 2019 edition which was published on Thursday.

In the past 5 years in particular, the severity of digital rights violations on the continent has sunken to new lows, details of which never ceases to shock. Despite this, the COVID-19 outbreak, which has dominated headlines around the world in the past few weeks, and has made inroads into the continent, reignites our shock at the speed with which some state actors in Africa can hide under any pretext to limit human rights and freedoms. Granted that in the midst of a pandemic, certain civil freedoms can be limited for public safety, the accounts of human rights violations in Africa in the past weeks have often lacked a sense of proportionality and legality in some government efforts to ostensibly stop the spread of the virus.

At Paradigm Initiative, we’ve been monitoring and documenting the concerning cases of human and digital rights violations since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our Africa-wide and global community convened through the NetRights Africa coalition mailing list, we have been collating incidents of violations during the pandemic, and also offering support to community members.

This blog gives an overview of the major violations which have occurred in Africa since the onset of the pandemic, and also highlights the sobering reality that many of these violations only caught on on the continent once they had become “legitimized” in Europe and elsewhere, for example with Germany, Austria and Belgium amongst the countries using mobile phone surveillance to track the spread of the pandemic. This is a reminder to our partners in digital rights advocacy in the global North that it is often the case that facilitators of human and digital rights violations get emboldened in their acts when they’ve observed hitherto defenders of these rights abuse them.

We learnt recently that a 13-year-old boy became the latest casualty of brutal police enforcement of COVID-19 lockdowns in Kenya after he was hit by a bullet while standing in the balcony of his parent’s home. However, journalists and citizens have been particularly affected by government restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak, with the arrest of Kaka Goni in Niger for a Twitter post about a suspected COVID-19 case in Niamey, the country’s capital; the arrest of Elijah Muthui Kitonyo for spreading what was termed fake news about the whereabouts of a COVID-19 patient in Kenya; and the implementation of more restrictions to the free movement of journalists in Nigeria following the announcement of lockdowns in the Nigerian states of Lagos and Ogun, and the federal capital, Abuja.

South Africa has in place, legislation which criminalizes the spreading of misinformation relating to COVID-19, while the country has also joined Kenya in implementing mobile phone tracking for COVID-19 surveillance. In Sierra Leone, the government has imposed a 12-month-long state of emergency, which gives security agencies emergency powers, apparently without approval of Parliament.

Throughout the duration of the pandemic, we will continuously monitor the situation in collaboration with our NetRights Africa community. Our monitoring and analysis will inform the nature of support we mobilize for this digital rights community. With their support, and the support of the broader international digital rights community, we are confident that digital rights in particular, and human rights in general, will be defended during this period; and that learnings from this period will inform our preparedness for future emergencies.

The author of this article, Babatunde Okunoye, is the Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative.

 

 

 

Vacancy: Community Manager

By | Uncategorized

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for underserved African youth. Our programs include digital inclusion programs – such as the Life Skills. ICT. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program and the Dufuna partnership – and a digital rights program. PIN’s operational headquarters is in Lagos, Nigeria, and maintains digital inclusion offices across Nigeria (Aba, Ajegunle, Kano) and digital rights offices in Yaounde, Cameroon; Accra, Ghana; Abuja, Nigeria; Arusha, Tanzania and Lusaka, Zambia.

Job Summary:

The Community Manager will oversee Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights and digital inclusion community engagement efforts, with a strong focus on resilience and consistency. 

Reporting To:

Chief Operations Officer

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Engage relevant national, regional and global institutions and stakeholders on issues around digital rights and inclusion in Africa
  • Plan, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of community mobilization activities
  • Analyse issues arising from community discussions and suggest appropriate measures to ensure timely implementation
  • Work with the PIN in-house team to deliver the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • In consultation with the PIN Leadership Team, set up an External Advisory Group for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Coordinate the development of budgets and lead fundraising for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Manage Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum processes
  • Improve and manage Paradigm Initiative’s digital rights and inclusion community, including the NetRights coalition, event participants, partners and other stakeholders
  • Oversee the Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL), in partnership with the Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion team leads
  • Work with both Digital Rights and Digital Inclusion teams to identify opportunities for community building
  • Provide community updates, including policy developments, legislative processes and other relevant updates, to relevant partners

Key Result Areas:

  • Build, grow and/or manage a resilient, consistent and effective Digital Right and Inclusion community for PIN
  • Mobilize funds for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum
  • Develop and implement policies that enhance the community’s effectiveness and  organization’s output and services
  • Undertake other tasks in accordance with job expectations
  • Work with Communications to commission and execute media campaigns for DRIF and DRILL
  • Deliver relevant and timely policy updates to identified partners

Education, skill and experience:

  • Proven work experience as a Community Manager or similar role
  • Experience planning and leading community initiatives, including large pan-African/bi-lingual events
  • Ability to identify and track relevant community KPIs
  • Project Management
  • Understanding of budgeting, financial planning and financial reports
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and presentations skills
  • Attention to detail, critical-thinker and problem-solver

Salaries and Benefits:

Commensurate with experience, plus other benefits such as health insurance, pension contributions, communication allowance, sabbatical leave, paid annual leave, maternity/paternity leave, dependent relative allowance and 13th-month salary.

Application Deadline: 

May 15th, 2020

Resumption Date:

July 1, 2020

Apply here >>>

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