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Policy Brief: Contextualizing the use of mobile data for COVID-19 surveillance in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria. – [June 17, 2020] – Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise that advocates for digital rights and inclusion in Africa has released a Policy brief on Policy responses to the covid-19 Pandemic. 

The Policy brief titled, ‘’Contextualizing the use of mobile data for COVID-19 surveillance in Nigeria through the lens of legality, necessity and proportionality’’ analyzes the reported plans by the Nigerian government in cooperation with MTN the country’s largest telecommunications company to use mobile subscribers data in the aid of contact tracing for the coronavirus disease spread. 

Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager Digital Rights at Paradigm Initiative, ‘’In light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus around the world, many governments adopted mobile technology enabled contact tracing in a bid to stem the disease spread. In the rush to implement these measures to stem the spread of the virus, human rights considerations were not uppermost in the mind of policy makers across the world’’.

Adeboro Odunlami, Legal Officer Paradigm Initiative added, ‘’The international human rights principles of legality, proportionality and legality are benchmarks with which we can assess whether certain steps taken by entities meet minimum human rights standards and are based on human rights considerations. Having assessed Nigeria’s proposed mobile contact tracing plans based on these principles, we clearly see that these plans were hatched without properly weighing these international human rights standards.

According to Bulanda Nkhowani, Program Officer Digital Rights, Southern Africa Paradigm Initiative, ‘’Indeed, this rush to implement mobile contact tracing without a conscious and deliberate effort to safeguard human rights is not unique to Nigeria. We see this trend replicated across Africa. This period presents a unique opportunity for organizations working on digital rights to remind the world that digital rights are indeed human rights. Policies and actions of government which have the capacity to limit human rights must be accessed according to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and must also have the requisite oversight at the appropriate levels of government to forestall abuse’’.

<<<Download the Policy Brief here>>> 

 About Paradigm Initiative

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. The organization’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls. The 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); Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. 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. 

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