Paradigm Initiative on December 19 2017 launched its second Digital Rights in Africa Report at the 12th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland. The IGF, organized by the United Nations, is a multi-stakeholder annual gathering of international stakeholders on Internet Governance and was a perfect platform to launch the comprehensive report on digital rights issues in Africa
The 2017 Digital Rights in Africa Report, titled Good for Business: Why Private Sector must work with Citizens, Civil Society for Digital Rights, builds on the 2016 Digital Rights in Africa Report titled, ‘Chocking the Pipe: How Governments hurts Internet Freedom on a Continent that needs more access’ launched at the 11th Internet Governance Forum in Mexico.
The Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan, noted that “Paradigm Initiative will continue to use our Digital Rights in Africa Report to record incidents of digital rights abuses, policies and laws which infringe Digital Rights, and monitor the Telecommunications market across the continent to ensure that the human rights online for Africans are respected”
The report provides commentary on digital rights violations, policies and other related development in Africa. The report also features in-depth analysis of the state of digital rights in some 21 African countries. The report says inter alia, “across Africa, a shift was also seen in how citizens responded to violations of their digital rights. In addition to direct recourse and appeal to international agencies, African citizens are exploring alternative options. Citizens across the continent have taken recourse to in-country or regional legal action to defend their digital rights.”
The 2017 report launch featured a panel which included Tolu Ogunlesi, Head of Presidential Office for Digital Engagement, The Presidency, Nigeria, Titi Akinsanmi, Government Relations and Public Policy lead at Google; Juliet Maina, Associate in Telecommunications, Media and Technology law at TripleOKLaw Kenya; and ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative.
Tolu Ogunlesi said, “Internet Freedom and Digital Rights are best achieved within a multistakeholder model, and this includes respect for the input and ideas of government. Political office holders cannot be ignored in successful Internet Freedom forums”.
Also speaking at the launch, Titi Akinsanmi reflected that “Regulation will never catch up with Innovation. The cause of development is best served when governments policies and law do not restrict freedom of expression and innovation, rather are skillfully and thoughtfully drafted to stimulate development”.
Julie Maina, Associate in Telecommunications, Media and Technology law added, “Taking a Pan-African view of Internet Freedom and Digital Rights helps us to spot trends and work for the best outcome for all Africans”.
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