Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, May 3rd, 2022 – Paradigm Initiative (PIN) welcomes the Declaration for the Future of the Internet (the Declaration) proposed by the United States, and other partners including the European Union, on 28 April 2022 in support of a future for the Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure. The Declaration reinforces that rights offline must be enjoyed online by calling for States to proactively ensure a future for the Internet which is free, safe, and accessible for all.
The use of digital technologies as presented in the declaration must strengthen and not weaken democracy as seen in many countries where Internet freedom is stifled and the online space unsafe for the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. The Declaration advances multistakeholder Internet governance and is anchored on fundamental rights and freedoms as entrenched in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For countries with a bad Internet freedom record, PIN considers the Declaration a call for critical reforms to promote and protect the Internet.
PIN applauds the over 60 signatories embracing the Declaration and notably Cabo Verde, Niger, and Senegal. The African States which have led the way in support of this Declaration do so against the backdrop of concerning violations of Internet freedom in Africa and it is hoped that such ratification of the Declaration will help in improving their performance. Niger has a bad record of Internet shutdowns and violating media freedoms online. A case in point is a journalist, Samira Sabou, who faced arrest over Facebook posts in Niger in 2020. In addition, Cabo Verde and Senegal also have a lot of work to do in order to be compliant with the Declaration they have now endorsed.
Londa 2021, a Paradigm Initiative annual report on the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa, will show upon publication on 20 May 2022 that among other countries, Kenya has a long way to go in ensuring Internet access for marginalized communities, especially in North-Eastern and North-Western regions. PIN’s 2021 report highlights how Ethiopia and Zambia shut down the Internet and how digital content producers are not safe in Rwanda to post content online. The 4 June 2021 Twitter ban in Nigeria also features in the findings of the report, a clear indication of how far States need to go to safeguard the future of the Internet.
The relevance of the Declaration to the African context is therefore timely. As such, we call for all signatories to take adequate measures to ensure adherence to the vision and principles outlined in the Declaration. We also call on all other African States to respect their commitment to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa which aligns with The Declaration for the Future of the Internet as both declarations call for the same rights that people have offline to be protected online.
ABOUT PARADIGM INITIATIVE:
Paradigm Initiative works to ensure digital empowerment and promote a positive rights
environment, supporting public policy towards Internet Freedom in Africa through a diverse
team of 29, working out of sub-regional offices in Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia
For further information, please contact:
Valery Njiaba | Communications Officer | Paradigm Initiative, Yaba, Lagos