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Paradigm Initiative Releases Digital Rights in Africa Report 2019 

Accra, March 23, 2020 – Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa, has released the 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report.

Building on previous reports published since 2016, the Digital Rights in Africa Report 2019 gives an in-depth analysis of the state of digital rights in Africa, and examines violations such as Internet disruptions, illegal surveillance, arrest of bloggers and the passage of hurtful legislation, amongst others.

According to Babatunde Okunoye, Research Officer at Paradigm Initiative, “the 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report, titled, ‘Violations Reloaded: Government Overreach Persists Despite Increased Civil Society Advocacy’ takes a critical look at the state of digital rights in 13 African countries – Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Speaking about the findings of the  report, Emmanuel Vitus, Communications Officer at  Paradigm Initiative said, “African countries are now adopting repressive models of Informational controls borrowed from authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China — a worrying signal which forebodes ill for the future of open and inclusive societies in Africa.” He continued: “This happens through a motley of targeted shutdowns, surveillance, arbitrary legislation to silence digital users. African nations are  becoming adept at controlling information both inside and outside their borders”.

“In addition to the publication of the 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report, we are currently working with a media company to convert the report into a short movie. This will be followed by regional media briefings that will discuss our findings from the report, across Paradigm Initiative’s offices in Accra, Abuja, Arusha, Lagos, Lusaka  and Yaoundé, later in the year. The report is available for download, via Paradigm Initiative’s website, in English and French,” said Adeboye Adegoke, Digital Rights Program Manager at  Paradigm Initiative.

Bulanda Nkhowani, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Officer for Southern Africa, and a report contributor, stated, “Digital rights have become increasingly contested in Africa, with rights-limiting legislation, Internet shutdowns and other violations regularly headlining international media reporting. The 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report investigates and documents these violations, serving as a body of evidence for advocacy for greater digital rights. In the fight against digital rights violations in Africa, civil society must persevere and use all the tools at their disposal, including research, to ensure that digital rights become respected and upheld.’’

Paradigm Initiative wishes to express a profound appreciation to the Netherlands Embassy, Ford Foundation and OSIWA for their support in producing this report. Their continued support for digital rights programs in Nigeria, and the rest of Africa, has been pivotal to ensuring that human rights in the digital age remains a priority. 

For more comments or feedback on this press release, please contact Paradigm Initiative’s Communications Officer, Emmanuel Vitus, at

Download the Report Here

Social Media Posts 

  • In Africa today, drawing from Chinese and Russian models of Information Controls, the information space is now perceived as a legitimate theatre of conflict – much the same way as land, air and the sea are established theatres of conflict. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Inspired by the Russian and Chinese models, many more countries are openly violating digital rights, under the guise of the rule of law in many instances. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Africa’s digital rights organizations, collaborators in legacy human rights institutions and other civil society actors must join ranks to advance digital rights in the face of grave threats on the continent. #NetAfrica19   @ParadigmHQ 
  • CSO’s vigorous advocacy is forcing digital rights from the fringe to the mainstream of public consciousness. More Africans have become sensitized to the harms of digital rights violations. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ 
  • Benin is among the first African countries to have a national legal instrument that protects digital rights, However, the repressive nature of some provisions of this law raises fears in terms of violation of fundamental freedoms online. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Civil society actors in Cameroon are working to draft a specific law governing social media and the Internet. In the meantime, the law No. 2010/012 of 21st December 2010 on cybersecurity and cybercrime is used to regulate cyberspace. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Digital rights in Egypt, in the past 4 years, has been shaped by the brutal repression by the Sisi regime, and the prospects for the future of digital rights under the regime is not exactly bright. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Despite great progress made since Prime Minister Abiy became Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in 2018 there is still a long way to go for realization of rights, including digital rights. These rights are often seen as an avenue for citizens to hold governments accountable.  #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • In Morocco, NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has enabled the regime of King Mohammed VI  to suppress citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly since 2017.    #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Reversing some of the gains of 2018, Nigeria’s President, @MBuhari declined assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill (HB 490) in 2019. The Bill was drafted to protect the rights of Nigerians online.  #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Rwanda’s Media Law is oppressive as it states penalties for crimes committed through the press such as vague language and any publication that is considered to be in “contempt to the Head of State” or “endangers public decency.” #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • In Sudan, Cyber cafe owners are required by law to download filtering apps. The government, through its Internet service control unit, has been blocking content. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • Under the regime of President Magufuli, the international perception of #Tanzania has shifted from being well regarded to international umbrage due to the rapid shutdown of its online space.  #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • In Zambia, in the absence of Data Protection laws, institutions continue to collect citizen’s personal data for various purposes, including SIM card registration conducted by network providers. #NetAfrica19@ ParadigmHQ
  • 2019 saw a heightened interest by the government of Zimbabwe to patrol cyberspace, especially in the wake of the purchase of Cloud Walk facial recognition software that was acquired from China in 2018. #NetAfrica19 @ParadigmHQ
  • @ParadigmHQ wishes to express a profound appreciation to the Netherlands Embassy (@NLinNigeria), @FordFoundation and @OSIWA1 for their support in producing this report. Their support has been pivotal to ensuring that human rights remains a priority. #NetAfrica19

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