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Press Release

Press Release: Announcing a digital rights partnership between Paradigm Initiative and the Centre for Human Rights.

By | Press Release

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria are pleased to announce a partnership offering an academic course to 30 select participants of PIN’s programs and the Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship (DRIMF).

DRIMF is a four-month fellowship with two intakes from 1 March to 30 June and from 1 August to 30 November each year. PIN also holds a 9-month Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab from 1 March to 30 November every year. Through various learning methods, fellows are introduced to the international and regional digital rights ecosystem. The objectives of the fellowship are to expose participants to the digital rights landscape and enhance their knowledge and skills in digital rights in Africa. 

In this partnership, the Centre for Human Rights’ Expression, Information, and Digital Rights unit will administer a digital rights course as part of the fellowship. The course will be delivered by renowned digital rights experts from the continent covering themes such as freedom of expression, access to information, elections in the digital age, artificial intelligence, privacy and data protection, and marginalized groups in the digital age. The course will also nurture advocacy skills that will be relevant in fostering strategic partnerships with major stakeholders.

About the partners

PIN is a social enterprise that builds an ICT-enabled support system and advocates for digital rights in order to improve livelihoods for under-served youth. PIN hosts 2 fellowship cohorts every year. PIN hosts innovative learning around digital rights and inclusion in Africa, and provides a space for enhanced capacity, practice, and reflection within the digital rights ecosystem. 

The Centre for Human Rights is both an academic institution and a non-governmental organisation focusing on human rights in Africa. The Expression, Information, and Digital Rights unit is one of the Centre’s units with the objective of advancing freedom of expression, access to information, and digital rights in Africa.

PRESS RELEASE: A CALL TO END THE CLAMPDOWN ON PRESS FREEDOM IN NIGERIA

By | Press Release

On the 27th of January 2021, Peoples Gazette released a calling on the government to restore the news platform for public access. Peoples Gazette noted the coordinated disruption of their service on all telecommunications networks in Nigeria. They claim this is a directive from the Nigerian government, specifically the Nigerian Communications Commission, to blacklist their web address alongside other domain names which is unacceptable.

Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of democracy, one that we must fiercely protect. Any attempt at shutting down the press is outrightly illegal and a violation of the freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without inference, protected by section 39 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(As amended). It further dampens the fundamental objectives contained in Section 22 of the Constitution that gives the press, and other agencies of the mass media the duty to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government.

This administration, has in many ways proven to be against press freedom and internet freedom carrying out moves interpreted as a clampdown on democracy, in a democratic system.

Paradigm initiative in its consistent commitment to protect and defend digital rights condemns in the strongest terms these acts by the Nigerian government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). We have engaged the NCC in the past on the same subject and we will continue to do so.

We must continue to actively engage the system to preserve all the elements that make us a democracy. Our tool as a people remains the law and must engage the law for our country to work for us.

Notably, the clamp down on the media in Nigeria continues because of the skepticism of citizens, institutions, and the victims of these violations to engage the judicial system to seek redress. All hands need to be on deck to push back on what has now become the government’s playbook in shutting down opposing voices. Paradigm Initiative and many other concerned organizations are willing to support platforms that are victims of government censorship to get judicial redress. We call on all meaningful Nigerians to support these efforts at curtailing the excesses of the government and its attack on the freedom of the press and the Internet.

We equally urge the Nigerian authorities to respect and enforce their citizens’ right to access to information, the rights of freedom of expression and opinion as assured and protected by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution(as amended).

Valery Njiaba | Communications Officer | media@paradigmhq.org

Press Release: The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub partners with Dufuna for its Design School Program. 

By | Press Release

The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, an initiative of the UK Government Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport has launched its Design School program aimed at equipping30 aspiring designers with world-class product design skills required in the 21st century to enable them to become employable or kick-start their career in Tech.

The pilot phase of this program is a 2-months program that will kick-start on the 1st of February, 2021 and to adhere to COVID-19 health guidelines, the program will run virtually.

This is a wonderful opportunity to build up and encourage designers, further empowering them with the necessary skillset required to upskill and compete, home and abroad. 

Honey Ogundeyi, the Country Director of UK-Nigeria Tech Hub stated that the Hub remains committed to developing the tech-ecosystem in Nigeria by promoting and enabling interventions that will promote digital skills and invariably create job opportunities. 

Olatokunbo Fagbamigbe, CEO and founder of Dufuna stated that Dufuna is excited to work with UK-Nigeria Tech Hub to train a new generation of world-class product designers for the Nigerian tech ecosystem. The Product Design course adds to our portfolio of courses and moves us closer to fulfilling our mission of empowering 1,000,000 Africans with digital vocational skills.

 

About the UK- Nigeria Tech Hub

The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub has been established as part of the UK’s Digital Access Program (DAP), a UK Government Prosperity Fund initiative. The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub aims to develop a stronger Nigerian digital ecosystem through the development of skills, entrepreneurship, and business partnerships.

 

About Dufuna

Dufuna is a social impact enterprise designed to train ambitious and disciplined Africans with digital skills to become highly-employable technology professionals.

 

Contact:

UK-Nigeria Tech Hub

Instagram : @ ukngtechhub

Twitter: @ ukngtechhub

LinkedIn: @ UK-Nigeria Tech Hub

Email: UK.Nigeria.Techhub@fco.gov.uk

 

Dufuna

Instagram: @Dufuna

Twitter: @DufunaTech

LinkedIn: @Dufuna

Facebook: @dufuna

Email: info@dufuna.org

 

Learn more about Dufuna’s programs here

 

Press Release: Paradigm Initiative Calls for Digital Inclusion for Marginalised Communities on International Day of Education!

By | Press Release

As the world celebrates the International Day of Education themed ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) calls for digital inclusion of marginalized communities in Africa. This day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of the importance of education as well as the need to ensure everyone has equitable quality education at all levels and access to lifelong learning opportunities that help them to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to access opportunities, participate fully in and contribute meaningfully to the sustainable development of society.

In the  United Nations Policy Brief: Education during COVID-19 and beyond, the United Nations highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, having already had a near-universal impact on learners and teachers around the world, from pre-primary to secondary schools, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, universities, adult learning, and skills development establishments. Closures of schools and other educational institutions are hampering the provision of essential services to children and communities. The Policy Brief also states that distance learning in high-income countries covers about 80–85 percent, and drops to less than 50 percent in low-income countries which shortfall can largely be attributed to the digital divide, with the disadvantaged having limited access to basic household services such as electricity; a lack of technology infrastructure; and low levels of digital literacy among students, parents, and teachers. 

 UNESCO highlighted that many parts of the world have resorted to distance learning and leveraging the use of information and communications technologies. The answer to resolving the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education includes access to the internet and technology. During this time, PIN calls for the African States to adhere to Principle 37 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa by adopting laws, policies, and other measures to promote affordable access to the internet for children that equip them with digital literacy skills for online education and safety. PIN further urges States to enhance access to education by removing technological barriers and investing in digital infrastructure.

PIN reminds all African States that education is a fundamental right that enables the enjoyment of other rights such as human dignity, health, and labour. As such, ensuring access to education for all is most pertinent. As PIN commemorates this day, it continues to bridge the digital divide through its Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program for underserved youths.

 

Valery Njiaba – Communications Officer |  Paradigm Initiative  |  media@paradigmhq.org

Press Release: Paradigm Initiative Opens DRIF21 Registration.

By | Press Release

Paradigm Initiative is thrilled to announce the opening of registration for the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum, 2021 starting on Monday, January 18th to Thursday, February 18th, 2021. DRIF21 will run from April 12th to 30th, 2021 with a series of virtual and in-person country interactions in 12 African Countries. DRIF is an important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped, policy directions debated and partnerships forged for action. It hosts diverse skills and capacities for enhancing digital rights and inclusion within the African continent and beyond.  

“In this 8th edition, PIN looks forward to co-hosting 12 in-person DRIF21 sessions with 13 partners in the following countries; Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Chad, Nigeria, Namibia, Cameroon, Zambia, and the Central African Republic”, says PIN Community Manager, Thobekile Matimbe. “This will be an extraordinary platform so timely in these COVID-19 times when deliberations on digital rights and inclusion have become most urgent”, she added. 

DRIF21 will commence with a Virtual Open Day on April, 12th 2021, followed by a series of in-person sessions, and end with virtual closing sessions on April 28th, 29th, and 30th, 2021. This will be a distributed multi-country festival!

Paradigm Initiative is pleased to announce its partnership with the following organisations hosting in-person sessions for DRIF21; 

Digital Shelter in Somalia, Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organisations in Ethiopia, Digital Human Rights Lab in Uganda, Koneta Initiative in South Sudan, Zaina Foundation in Tanzania, Internet Society Chad Chapter, Conseil des Panafricanistes du Tchad in Chad, Namibia Digital Foundation in Namibia, Internet pour tous en Centrafrique in Central African Republic, TechHerNigeria, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, A&E Law Partnership and Edunovative Concept, and Consultancy in Nigeria. In-person sessions will only be attended by a limited number of participants within the specific countries in line with COVID-19 in-country guidelines and live-streamed on social media platforms. In extending the DRIF21 conversations globally, PIN is also excited to partner with a diverse range of virtual session hosts including Media Defence, the Global Network Initiative, AIRA, CIPESA, and the University of Connecticut Human Rights Institute. 

PIN invites diverse businesses, civil society, the technical community, academia, government, and private sector to register to attend these enriching engagements on the following platform https://drif.paradigmhq.org/registration/. 

For inquiries on attending in-person country sessions, please email drif@paradigmhq.org

 

Press Release: Paradigm Initiative Condemns Uganda Internet Shutdown.

By | Press Release

Paradigm Initiative condemns, in the strongest terms possible, the directive by the Uganda Communications Commission ordering a temporary “Suspension of the Operation of Internet Gateways” allegedly in the exercise of its functions, under Sections 5(1) and 56 of the Uganda Communications Act of 2013. As a result of this directive, major internet service providers such as MTN and Airtel Uganda have issued communications to the effect that they have complied as ordered. 

As is now characteristic of African governments during elections and specifically on election day, it is unfortunate but not surprising that the Government of the Republic of Uganda elected to shut down the internet connectivity just a day before the general elections scheduled for the 14th of January 2021. 

This action to block internet access in Uganda is a blatant violation of regional and international standards on freedom of expression and access to information. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it glaring that internet access is an enabler for accessing health care and education. An attack on internet access is clearly a violation of human rights. Article 9 (1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights provides for access to information as the right to receive information and is echoed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 19(2). The government of Uganda must promote access to information and freedom of expression through unhindered access to the internet. 

 In terms of Principle 37 of the Declaration of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa States must facilitate the rights to freedom of expression and access to information online and the means necessary to exercise these rights and must recognise that universal, equitable, affordable and meaningful access to the internet is necessary for the realisation of freedom of expression, access to information and the exercise of other human rights. Furthermore, PIN calls on the government of Uganda to adhere to the objective of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance under Article 2(10) to promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs. An open internet will ensure this compliance as well as the promotion of human rights under article 4 of the same. 

We urge the Ugandan authorities to respect their citizens’ right to, among others, access to information as guaranteed by the relevant Ugandan laws as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. 

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

By | Advocacy, Digital Rights, Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

By | Press Release

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

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

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

Paradigm Initiative Applauds MTN Group Limited for Releasing First Transparency Report

By | Press Release

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

By | Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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