Category

ICTs

Namibian Activists Convert Online Outrage into Street Action

By | DRIMF, ICTs

The year 2020 has seen a rise in digital activism in Namibia, mainly spearheaded by young people. In October 2020, the body of 21-year-old Shannon Wasserfall was discovered in a shallow grave in the dunes six months after she was reported missing near her hometown, Walvis Bay. On Twitter, anger brewed from social media to the streets and nation-wide protests followed with young people calling for a total shutdown of all activities in Namibia until the Government tackles sexual and gender-based violence. The anti-femicide protestors used #ShutItAllDownNamibia to reach a wider audience. According to Simon Kemp’s 2021 DataReportal, Namibia, with a population of around 2,5 million people, has over 1,30 million internet users with over 800 000 social media users. Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe, a gender activist who was instrumental in the #ShutItAllDownNamibia movement, said the importance of online activism speaks to a broader conversation and the collective power it yields, “you captivate a wider audience and you sensitise them with your ideas for reform further,” said Nthengwe. She started using Twitter to advocate for minority rights, in both a personal and professional capacity, however her level of activity has increased over the years. The #ShutItAllDownNamibia protests saw unprecedented numbers of mainly young people in various towns in Namibia taking to the streets in October 2020. Omar van Reenen started using Twitter as an advocacy tool at university where he studied Political Science and Gender & Sexuality Studies. “I organised the largest civil rights protest in my college town for the Black Lives Matter movement, where we reformed the Municipality of Oswego’s police department in New York, USA to divert more funding into community resources,” added the young activist. Van Reenen co-founded the Namibia Equal Rights Movement, an advocacy group seeking to advocate for LGBT+ rights. Recently, van Reenen led another protest in Windhoek when a same-sex couple’s twins, born through surrogacy in South Africa, were denied entry and citizenship in Namibia. Namibia inherited a Roman-Dutch colonial sodomy law, though the law is not strictly enforced in the country, activists are calling for its removal. In 2016, Ombudsman John Walters was reported by The Namibian newspaper saying that no prosecutions took place in Namibia under the law, however, Walters and activists say the old sodomy law is past its sell-by date. For van Reeden activism (either off or online) has to be intersectional. Van Reeden echoed that movements before him were not as inclusive, thus intersectionality is something he aims to encompass. Intersectional activism aims to bring (in)visible bodies into view, embodying aspects of gender, sexuality, race, and disability. “Movements that are not intersectional bear the risk of continuing the very oppressive system we are challenging,” said van Reeden. Linda Baumann, who has worked with various LGBT+ advocacy groups for years, welcomes such digital advocacy. “Young people have learned that their voices with no restriction come through the social media handles and what they have done is to utilise the space to mobilise each other and radically engage how the state restrictions impact them,” said Baumann. Additionally, Baumann is hopeful with this form of advocacy as it speaks for minority groups who have been sidelined in society. For Baumann, the internet sphere is populated with young people who have the information and understanding of sexuality and gender diversity. Something that according to her is needed in transforming policies in Namibia. For young people such as Van Reenen, contentious political engagements online speaks of a new era.

 

By Emsie Erastus |Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellow 2021

Open Letter Calling For President Edgar Lungu to Defer Signing of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill 2021

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, ICTs, Internet Freedom

Dear President Edgar Lungu,

Following the passing of the third reading of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill 2021 on the floor of Parliament on 9th March 2021. Paradigm Initiative calls on you to defer the signing of the Zambia Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 as it has the potential to severely infringe upon fundamental human rights of citizens, such as the right to access information, the right to freedom of expression, right to privacy, and the right to associate and assemble online.

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. Our 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); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Our digital rights advocacy efforts include media campaigns, coalition building, capacity building, research, report writing, hosting the annual bi-lingual pan-African Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum, and promotion of Digital Rights and Freedom legislation.

While we note the progressive provisions and the need for a law that protects citizens against cybercrime and fosters cybersecurity, we also wish to remind the Zambian government of its constitutional, regional and international obligations to protect the civil liberties of Zambians.

Specifically, we wish to remind the government of its constitutional obligations to safeguard;

  • Freedom of Expression and Access to information under Article 20 which provides for the sharing and receiving of information without interference, whether public or private
  • Freedom of Assembly and Association under Article 21 which provides for freedom of assembly and association without hindrance
  • Privacy under Article 17 guarantees the protection of privacy of home and property and no  person shall be subjected to the search of their person, property, or the entry by others on their premises unless by the subject’s consent

We wish to also remind the government of its international obligations to safeguard and promote;

  • Freedom of Expression under Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  The   UN   Human   Rights   Committee states that “any restrictions on the operation of websites, blogs, or any other internet-based electronic or other such information dissemination systems” must comply with Article 19”.
  • Privacy under Article 17 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected  to  arbitrary  or  unlawful  interference  with  his  privacy,  family,  home  or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.”

Further, Zambia’s regional obligations to the following regional instruments on freedom of expression and access to information; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Windhoek Declaration, African Platform on Access to Information, and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.

The Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 in its current form is anti-freedom of expression, anti-freedom of assembly, anti-freedom of association, and anti-privacy and presents several problematic clauses that infringe on digital rights and may provide avenues for abuse and in the long run will be detrimental to the work of human rights defenders, civil society, bloggers, journalist and ordinary citizens who provide the necessary checks and balances.

For instance;

  • Section 54 prohibits the publication of false information, criminalizing “false” news or “false” content will stifle independent media, especially those with critical voices, create a climate of censorship and undermined public debate thereby weakening democracy, and limit legitimate information sharing by those who use the internet for civic work and to expand democracy. Moreover, a similar provision in the Penal Code was declared unconstitutional by the High Court in 2014.
  • Sections 9 and 11 provide excessive powers to cyber inspectors who are mandated to monitor, inspect, search and seize with a warrant, however, there are no limits as to the nature, scope, or duration of warrants.
  • Sections  6, 7, 8, 13, and 14 of the bill create two new bodies to address cybersecurity and cybercrimes, give the ‘Authority’ power to appoint “cyber inspectors, the ‘Director-General’ of the ‘Authority’ to appoint ‘cybersecurity technical experts, as well as provide vast powers for the ‘Authority’ and ‘Minister’ who are put in charge of the new bodies that have the power to control virtually all internet activity in Zambia without appropriate safeguards to oversee such actions.  
  • Section 7 of the bill establishes the National Cybersecurity Advisory and Coordinating Council constituted of part-time experts in cybersecurity and cybercrime. The provision however does not state the qualifications nor the criteria for selecting these part-time experts. This gives way for the Council to be made up of partial people who may use it as a tool for surveillance.
  • Section 29 grants law enforcement officers to verbally request service providers to intercept communications of citizens without a warrant if they have a reasonable belief that there is the possibility of cybercrime. This gives room for interception of the private communications of citizens on very vague grounds that have no relation to cybersecurity.
  • Section 65 seeks to criminalise hate speech with broad provisions that state that any statement directed at a particular group that is interpreted as hostile may amount to hate speech and interpretation of this is left to law enforcement officers.

Overall the bill grants excess powers to law enforcement officers and provides inadequate judicial oversight for surveillance activities, and this threatens the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and other digital rights.

Furthermore, we note that Cabinet approved ratification of the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection 2014 (Malabo Convention), therefore we urge the government to consider deferring the bill until such a time when the Malabo Convention is fully ratified in Zambia as a commitment to the protocols set out in the Convention to protect critical ICT infrastructure, personal data and to encourage the free flow of information and contribute to a developed and credible digital space in Africa. In addition, to consider aligning the bill to global best practice standards including but not limited to the provisions of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrimes of 2001.

While we commend the efforts made to foster stakeholder consultation, we, however, wish to register our displeasure at the ‘last-minute’ manner in which stakeholders were engaged and informed of internal legislative review meetings and the rushed manner in which the bill was read on the floor of Parliament through a motion to suspend Standing Order 100 of the National Assembly of Zambia’s Standing Orders 2016. These measures did not give the public and Members of Parliament ample time to propose objections or amendments to the pieces of legislation.

In closing, we strongly urge you-  President Lungu, to withhold signing the Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Bill of 2021 until after the August 2021 general elections to allow for more consultations with stakeholders and subsequent amendment of the worrisome clauses.

For more information about contact: media[at]paradigmhq[.]org

 

Owosekun Olatubosun: Knowing ICT has connected me to a lot of opportunities.

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

Before the LIFE Program, Olatubosun was afraid of being a failure in life, he saw many limitations to his success, one of which was gaining admission to study the course of his choice in the university. This thought weighs him down a lot he said. Olatubosun wants to be a Business Manager, this desire was stirred in him while managing his mum’s poultry farm, this keeps him engaged while waiting to gain admission.

Getting to know about the LIFE program from his neighbor in 2018 was a blessing in disguise because he had always wanted to get knowledge in ICT. “The training opportunity brought a paradigm shift to my life and it brings joy to me whenever I remember the experience. I was inspired during the program that I can be successful. I have gained so much courage to take some bold steps in my life..”


The most amazing thing about the program is knowing that there are people who volunteer to uplift Nigerian youths without looking at their background, tribe, or money. Also seeing under 25’s owning successful businesses was amazing, he said.

Through the LIFE program, Olatubosun got an internship opportunity with Gina Consulting, a UK-based firm. He worked to manage the Dress For Success project – a project that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life.
In 2019, Olatubosun gained admission to study Business Management at the University of Nigeria, Enugu. He is also taking fashion design training.

“Knowing ICT has been helpful; academically, I can do online research in getting resources for my assignment and my research work. Business-wise, ICT has helped me connect to the world of fashion which I plan to embark on; I now know more information about fashion as a business. I also plan on starting an online agricultural store to stimulate the sale of agro produce in Nigeria.

Call for Applications: Research Assistants

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, ICTs

Paradigm Initiative and Olumide Babalola LP are looking for three (3) Research Assistants to support a 3-month project that will undertake a critical evaluation of issues surrounding the establishment, independence, impartiality, and efficiency of Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) in the last two decades of their existence in Africa.

Project Description

The first data protection legislation in Africa was enacted by Cape Verde in 2001 and as of July 2020, about thirty-three (33) other African countries had either passed laws or issued regulations on the subject. This number represents over 60% of the 55 countries on the continent and such progression was meant to, expectedly, boost regulatory activities and more visible enforcement of data protection rights by the gatekeepers. There exists no comprehensive report on the nature, modus operandi, and efficiency of DPAs in Africa. The knowledge gap in this area is palpable and whether by commission or omission, African DPAs’ activities and role-playing have remained in the background. The research project aims to focus on African DPAs’ situation report since the pioneering Cape Verdean Act in 2001 and the proposed case study research method will involve the assertive collection of statistics and verifiable data on the role-playing of the DPAs with a juxtaposition of their legislative and/or socio-political limitations over the years.

Qualifications

To support this research project, we are calling for applications from qualified enthusiasts to support research in Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone African countries. Researchers must be residents in the African region they wish to support research activities for and be fluent in the relevant official language(s). While research skills are absolutely essential, we are eager to work with team members who are organized, follow through on all tasks, and can coordinate work with remote teams.

Application and additional details

Qualified and interested applicants should fill out this form before March 25, 2021. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews and that the expected start date is the first week of April 2021. The role is part-time, may require up to approximately sixty (60) 2-hour days over the project period, and will be compensated at a rate of up to the equivalent of $15 per hour.

THE ADVANCING WOMEN’S RIGHTS ONLINE WORKSHOP

By | Digital Rights, ICTs

In a digital age, sexual and gender-based violence transcends our traditional understanding of it to more unconventional methods. Recognizing what these methods of violence are will help society curb it and give women and girls better access and opportunity. United Nations Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological, or economic harm to women.

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is already a problem of pandemic proportion; research shows that one in three women will experience some form of violence in her lifetime and online violence stands to increase that number.
Online violence against women as defined by the Associative Press for Progressive Communications (APC) are acts of gender-based violence committed, abetted, or aggravated in part or fully by the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) such as mobile phones, the internet, social media platforms, and email.

Many do not recognize this menacing form of violence and its staggering effects and It is for this reason that on the 24th of February 2021 Paradigm Initiative in collaboration with TechHer, powered by the Web foundation organized a closed-door policy maker workshop to bring the issues forward and address the ways forward.

Paradigm Initiative and TechHer targeted Government ministries, government agencies, and civil society organizations making a difference in the spaces affecting women. We hoped to bring to their attention through our “ADVANCING WOMEN’S RIGHTS ONLINE WORKSHOP”

The workshop had a 3 part agenda; To break down and contextualize online violence and its effects, a look into the legal framework surrounding online violence as it is in Nigeria, and a peak into solutions using technology using UNSUB as a case study.

Soibomari Seddon, a first responder to Sexual gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and former programs officer at Stand to end rape brilliantly led the session on “Online Violence Against Women: A Break Down”.

There were many gems from this engaging session such as how most types of violence that can be perpetrated offline can be done just as well online. She highlighted that the first step to addressing online violence against women is to recognize that it is a legitimate and harmful manifestation of gender-based violence. Online violence presents itself in many forms including sexual harassment online, slut-shaming, cyberstalking, trolling, targeted hate speech, identity theft, doing, and threats of corrective rape.

Online violence she noted is often downplayed, ignored, and underreported. In a country like Nigeria with a broken down analog system of justice, the police hardly take offline violence seriously, so reporting online violence will most likely be an exercise in futility.
Soibomari narrated Nigerian Twitter’s recent trends of people spamming the pages of women speaking up against oppression with football commentary.

“Men threaten women with corrective rape for opening differently on gender issues. A popular Kannywood actress is often trolled and at the mercy of violent mobs such that she had to produce a teary apology video for simply showing her back. A young woman breaks up with her abusive boyfriend and in days private information that could endanger her is published online.
A young mother attends a concert and has to lock her account to be free of trolls whereas there are sympathy and understanding for a father who abandoned his wife at a hospital with a stillbirth, we all grieve differently. A group of women who strategized and mobilized the country’s most successful nationwide protests is always the subject of endless scrutiny and criticism but a proven male saboteur is still being given the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes online violence can present in more subtle ways like attacking women for shared views with men but the men often get zero vitriol. Women are always trying to get accounts that have stolen their identities suspended. Some women have already been marked as vocal and no matter what they say, are often at the receiving end of trolling.”

Many women in these cases have had to delete social media entirely, taking away their access to information and communication. For many women these situations have real-life consequences, causing them to fear for their lives and ultimately affect their jobs, interactions, and communication with society.
With most of these cases going unreported, the actions go mostly without consequences as Soibomari called, that as a community we cease perpetrators to thrive and make a statement of zero tolerance.
After laying the brutal foundation and giving context, Judith Takon then went ahead to present the policy brief she authored for Paradigm Initiative titled
“ONLINE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC”.

The outbreak of COVID19 came with global economic downturns, restrictions in movement, and government-imposed lockdowns which had profound effects on the safety of women and girls globally especially in developing countries like Nigeria. United Nations Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological, or economic harm to women.

Even before COVID-19 existed, domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations. This violence increased alarmingly during COVID-19 with its impending lockdown and restrictions. Women and girls who were previously shielded from abuse by existing structures of school and work were now trapped with their abusers at home for hours and days on end. Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is reported to have significantly increased since the lockdown began on 30 March 2020 in the three most affected areas (Lagos State, Federal Capital Territory [FCT] and Ogun State) ”

Compelled to stay at home due to the pandemic, more people have turned to technology as a substitute for physical interactions. The internet is the decisive technology of the information age and despite the vast inequality in access and usage due to economic, social, and cultural impediments, it continues to transform billions of lives daily.
The vast inequality in access and usage of digital technology is shown to be ascribable to economic, social, and especially cultural obstacles.

The policy brief cited the legislative landscape of Online violence, some of which are:
The 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria
Criminal Code/Penal Code
Cybercrime Act 2015
Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 (Vapp Act)
Convention On Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw)

The Policy Brief went ahead to cite recommendations to make the online space more accommodating for women.

RECOMMENDATIONS
ENACTING APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION ON ONLINE VIOLENCE
GRASSROOT REORIENTATION/SENSITIZATION ON THE DANGERS OF ONLINE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Internet Intermediaries playing their part in mitigating the risks of online violence against women. According to a report by the Broadband Commission Working Group, tech companies need to explicitly recognize cyber violence against women and girls as unlawful behavior and demonstrate increased and expedited cooperation in providing relief to victims/survivors within the capacities that companies have.
It has been established that digital inclusion and access is a right, not a privilege and that the digital world contains several benefits to women.

Read the rest on the policy brief here:https://bit.ly/3shLuVU

Finally, Khadijah Awwal, the project lead of UNSUB, an app available on AppStore told the attentive audience how she and her team created an app that connects first responders and allows people to report sexual offenses, report them anonymously and report them on behalf of someone else. They connect victims to hospitals, mental care, and law enforcement.

Khadijah showed us that with commitment and innovation we could make a world of difference.
After Which many of those in attendance contributed beautifully to the way forward. One of which was Dorothy Njamanze of the Dorothy Njamanze foundation saying that advocacy goes beyond the English language and should be translated and interpreted through grassroots mobilization for a wider reach.

Having been widely attended by about 43 different organizations in government and CSOs, Paradigm Initiative is proud to have initiated a conversation among them that will shape the future to come as we set out to host another workshop on the 19th of March, 2021.

Written By,

Khadijah El-Usman

Simon Faith: I have all it takes to rule my world.

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

“Confident and polished” were the words Faith used in describing herself, seeing the impact the LIFE program had had on her.

In 2019, Faith had just graduated from secondary school, she really wanted to get the right job that would keep her engaged but she had no skill that could place her on the path.
Faith knew about the LIFE program from her sister, whose life was proof of the transformative power of the program. With this, she was convinced that the knowledge of ICT is the right tool for her journey of being employable.

“Getting into the LIFE program was the easiest part, staying focused and committed are the attitudes required if anyone wants to get the best of the 10 weeks program. Also, coming from Ajegunle where most people have to do some sort of manual labour to survive, I was happy to know that I have a shot at living a life where my intellectual strength would be needed”, said Faith.


After the program, she had a stint with Gina Consulting, where she was placed on the “Dress For Success Program” in order to improve her skills for the workplace. Presently, Faith works as a receptionist in one of the reputable Hotels in Lagos where she uses ICT skills from the training to carry out her daily tasks. She also has a dream of becoming a fashion stylist.

“I am proud to say that I am a much more confident young lady with a positive outlook for the future. Having being able to overcome the challenge of Digital Illiteracy, I have all it takes to rule my world” – Faith Simon

OBIAKOR PECULIAR CHUKWUEBUKA: “The knowledge of ICT has made and is making a difference in my life and around me” 

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

Life was a bit different from what I used to think it would be after Secondary School because I had this belief that one would go straight to University. It didn’t happen that way to me, while waiting for things to work out, I was introduced to Paradigm Initiative by Kelechi Obioma who shared with me how I could learn more about computers with just N500, not to compare to the amount paid to acquire this knowledge from other ICT centers. Going through the flyer I saw graphic design which has been an aspect I love too well in computers, not just that, also other enticing packages that I have never seen added to any computer training were included. There must be something different I said to myself, which I told my parents and filled the form. On returning it, I couldn’t believe that such a beautiful learning center was located in Aba talk more of Ngwa Rd. Such center being in this place is like asking “can anything good come out of Nazareth” the environment was too beautiful to be free! On completing the process before the interview when we shared it with our Pastor he was delighted and said we would be chosen.

Quitting was never on my mind despite the difficulties, I had to trek from home to the center a few times and back home too. My thoughts on technology/Internet were old-fashioned. I didn’t even know much about it, if, at all I did, it would be the much I learned from basic and computer science class during my secondary school and some from the computer training I previously had in 2015. Just as my thought was on technology/internet so was it on business before joining Paradigm Initiative. I never knew one could do business without the business dying off, the idea of having a problem to solve or a solution to people’s needs or wants before venturing into any business got stuck to me. The mindset of business as a way just to escape hunger was silenced.

It wasn’t difficult to learn, just that there were new things to learn and more advancement to the ones I knew from the Life skill to the ICT class. Entrepreneurship may be one big word I didn’t understand before joining the AbaLIFE program. I thought it was for some people, somehow like a title you don’t just attain or that easy to get. It was easy to learn that just solving problems or rendering solutions is one simple way to know one.

In all ramifications, I will say that the knowledge of ICT has made and is making a difference in my life and around me. Learning is much easier and better now as I can easily Google out what I want, do online courses and even get YouTube tutorials on any topic I desire especially on graphic design. Not waiting until I get to the four walls of the university or paying someone to help me start up my career. These skills are helping me broaden my horizon, helping me in branding and packaging of my work, and writing good business plans. It has also helped in educating my family on the use of ICT and even rebranding my Aunty’s catering services.

In 2017, I successfully worked with the Glorious Life Gospel Teens in hosting two major events for young people, MAD (Making a Difference) and SoCinema (Stand Out Cinema) the events had young people gathered in a venue where they were imparted. We achieved that by applying the skills we acquired at AbaLIFE these included; writing, branding, and packaging of proposals, social media, and networking that helped us pull great minds to these events without anything including sponsorship.

Currently, I am building a dancing team in our teenage church with the help of YouTube tutorials and the little skills we know. I have been able to seek out opportunities for scholarships and doing online free courses. I also volunteer at AbaLIFE in my spare time.

Not only that, but I won’t fail to add this. Not just the completion of the training got me this far and going I shared only but a few things. Staying close to AbaLIFE center even after my completion of the program has helped me achieve most of the things I shared. I got to meet another designer Chima David who is also an alumnus after my completion and others too with who I have synergy.

The privilege of having gone through this training has helped me a lot in standing strong and bold before congregations and in passing my message at ease. I have grown to become a creative thinker and my communication skills have been improved to help me function better as a youth executive and also at evangelism.
After the training, I wanted more, and I still do now. I will love to improve my graphic design skills.

 

Fatima Ahmed Sehure: With the Support and Motivation from the LIFE program, I am not Where I Used to be and I am Most Grateful for That.

By | AjegunleLIFE, Digital Rights, Echoes From Life, ICT Policy, ICTs, L.I.F.E.

I Am Fatima Ahmed Sekure, from Badawa layout, Kano. My brother told me about Paradigm Initiative’s Training after my NYSC in 2019. Since he is an alumnus, he told me how they support youths to achieve their goals, learn ICT skills, and become entrepreneurs, so I asked him to let me know when it was time to enroll.

What I heard about the program made me more interested in being a part of it. I heard it helped youths learn how to be self-reliant, it taught entrepreneurs how to boost an existing business, and that through the program young people are educated to become better individuals in society.

After the training, I enrolled in a tailoring school and Alhamdulillah the progress has been massive. I can now make simple gowns, facemasks, and bags.

I am growing in the business of bag making, as customers are trooping in especially those getting married. With the support and motivation from the LIFE Program and the trainers, I am not where I used to be, I am most grateful for that.

Media and Digital Information Literacy

By | Digital Rights, ICTs, L.I.F.E., Techtiary

How well do you understand the use of technology?
Do you know the limitations of technology?
Do you understand the dangers and precautions that the use of technology requires?

We all know that traditional literacy is the ability to read and write but in today’s digital world, being literate isn’t enough anymore as people need to be digitally literate as well. Digital literacy means having the technical skills to work and communicate in a society where there is the proliferation of information through digital technologies like internet platforms, social media, and mobile devices.

With the advancement of technology over the years, we now live in a global world. The domination of technology in our everyday lives has proven the importance of digital literacy not just for adults but for children. A very important topic within digital literacy is Internet Safety.

The Digital world has created extreme benefits and advantages for everyone. Without proper use and understanding of these technologies, the digital world can be overwhelming and even dangerous.

Digital literacy can be either simple or complex. It can be as simple as the ability to use social media or send an email. However, digital literacy also refers to a deeper understanding of technology around us which can be practical software skills such as creating a website or an app.

Digital literacy is not just knowing how to check our social media handles. Internet safety or online safety is the act of maximizing a person’s awareness and personal safety to private information and property associated with using the internet.

Generally, the internet does not harm us until we choose to react to suspicious content and websites. The first reason for internet harm is when you don’t know what you are doing. The second is when other forces entice you to react or click on links such as attractive ads, infected software downloads, and fraudulent messages.

Safety tips for online safety

• First, remember never to share your personal information example home address, school name, or telephone number in a chat room with unknown people.

• Never continue a chat with someone who makes you uncomfortable (always trust your instincts).

• Create a complex, unique, and strong password. Use upper, lower, and special characters (you can also have a password in your local dialect).

• Be a selective sharer.

• Always check website reliability.

• Always use two-factor authentication where available.

• Beware of free Wi-Fi and downloads.

• Most importantly remember to NEVER share your password(s) with anyone because that is your digital identity.

 

By Amina Ibrahim Idris

CLOSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE GAP IN AFRICA’S UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES

By | Digital Rights, ICT Policy, ICTs, Internet Freedom

The world we live in is changing in ways we would not have imagined some years back and this change is being driven by Information and communication technology-enabled innovations. This has led to a race of who will blaze the trail in the digital economy of the world, as whoever wins the race will have major control over important dynamics that drive our world today.

While we see developed countries striving to increase their quest towards digital dominance, what we see in most African countries especially as it has to do with her underserved population is a continent that either has lost touch with what is happening around her or one that doesn’t care about the wellbeing of its underserved population, as we cant see the much that is being done towards closing the digital divide gap compare to other developed economies when it comes to her citizens who live below the poverty line.

To help us better understand this problem, Jakob Nielsen wrote an article in 2016 that analyzed the digital divide and classified it into three stages: the economic divide stage, the usability divide stage, and the empowerment divide stage.

In Africa, you will find most countries at the economic divide stage. The majority of the citizens do not have access to the infrastructure, devices, and tools that will enable their participation in the global digital economy. This can mostly be attributed to poverty, as a greater percentage of her population do not have what it takes to acquire even the world’s cheapest digital devices. The second reason here being, the inability of the government of these countries, to provide the infrastructure that will support access to the digital economy.

On the problem of the usability divide, we see where people have moved beyond the first stage to having access to digital tools and devices but not knowing how to use them. Here you see citizens acquiring computers just for recreational reasons (playing games and watching movies) or getting high-end smartphones for the sole purpose of making and receiving calls. The above is usually because they lack the skills and knowledge that can enable them to take full advantage of the capability of these digital resources.

At the third stage, which is the empowerment divide, the problem we see here in most African countries is that most people who have passed the first two stages by having access to digital tools and devices and the skills of using them most times don’t know how to convert that into opportunities that can empower them and their communities. The above situation is further exacerbated by repressive policies of most governments of the countries which have prevented most of its citizens especially those from underserved communities from taking advantage of their digital skills in empowering themselves. A typical example is a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria by her Apex financial institution the Central Bank of Nigeria which has led to many cryptocurrency exchanges doing business in Nigeria moving their businesses outside the shores of the country leading to the loss of opportunities for her teeming youthful population.

Having looked at the problem of the widened digital divide in Africa from the lens of these three stages, one will not help but ask what we can do to amend this situation so that Africa and its youthful population will not be left behind in the race for control in the emerging global digital economy. To close this widening gap in the digital divide among African countries, the following must be done:

There is the need for a homegrown solution to the problem of access to and affordability of digital tools and devices, as this will help reduce the cost and make them cheap enough that a greater number of citizens can get and use them.
African governments should take advantage of Public and Private partnerships to drive the acquisition of relevant digital skills that will help their people to be players in the emerging global digital economy.
Repressive government policies should be abolished, while good ones should be enacted to create the enabling environment for creative young people on the continent to be able to harness their digital skills towards creating opportunities for the continent and its people.

In conclusion, it is very important for policymakers in all African countries to understand the stages they are among these three stages of the digital divide as that will help them to know the appropriate policies to put in place to get their people to where they are supposed to be in the globalized digital economy.

By Ihueze Nwobilor

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