Lusaka, Zambia, Wednesday March 29th, 2023:
The summit, which is being co-hosted by Zambia and the United States of America (USA) under the theme, “Free, Fair and Transparent Elections as a Foundation for Democratic Governance,” will be attended by representatives from 21 African countries. This is the second summit for democracy for the African region, and it will be held in a hybrid format.
Today’s meeting will take place virtually and will be attended by Heads of States and Government while tomorrow’s meeting (March 30th) will be a ministerial in-person one that will officially be opened by Zambia President, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
‘Gbenga who is also a member of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) High-Level Leadership Panel by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres will be a panelist at the Freedom of Expression: The role of the media and civil society in promoting transparent and credible elections session to be held on March 30th. He will be joined at the high-level panel by Ms. Laura Miti, Executive Director, Alliance for Community Action, Zambia, Mr. David Omwoyo, Chief Executive Officer, Media Council of Kenya and Ms. Pansy Tlakula, Chair, South Africa Information Regulator, South Africa. The session will be moderated by Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Chair, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Sierra Leone.
Other sessions which will be held on the same day are; Ensuring Electoral Integrity on the African Continent, Inclusive Participation of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities in Electoral Processes, Transparency in Political Party Financing and The Independence of Electoral Management Bodies and Their Importance in Free, Fair and Credible Elections.
The summit is being attended by judges, civil society representatives, electoral experts, lawyers and university dons, among others.
At the same time, ‘Gbenga was on Monday, March 27th one of the three opening speakers at the Global Digital Compact deep dive session focusing on digital inclusion and connectivity hosted by the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Technology. Other opening speakers were Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Mr. Karim Antonio Lesina, Executive Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer, Millicom (Tigo).
‘Gbenga, while speaking on digital inclusion progress, called on nations to not only amplify successful models but also admit and learn from failures. “We must move from a mindset that assigns success to individual actors to one of joint ownership of wins based on diverse contributions!”
He stressed the need to audit and mandate action for Universal Service (Provision) Funds across various countries while also making digital exclusion expensive by punishing countries that deliberately cut off citizens from digital opportunities.
“Multi-lingual digital inclusion focused on youth has a multiplier effect and helps to erase long-held literacy-means-understanding-English assumptions. Programs must be designed with those who are living through exclusion, not in comfortable strategy rooms,” he further stated.
Paradigm Initiative (PIN) works to connect underserved young Africans with digital opportunities, and ensures protection of their rights. The organisation has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organisational culture that positions it as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent.
Across our regional offices in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and beyond, PIN works to connect under-served African youth with improved livelihoods through our digital inclusion and digital rights programs. The organization’s programs include Life Skills. ICT. Financial Readiness. Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program, Dufuna, a digital readiness workshop for girls and life at school club program.
PIN has also built online platforms that educate and serve as safe spaces for the reporting of digital rights violations. These mediums, in the form of reports, short films, and educational online platforms, include Ayeta, Londa and Ripoti.
Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013.