Edition 2: February - March 2019 
Marking 30 Years of the Web
This year marks 30 years of the World Wide Web but millions remain offline, particularly in Africa. Further, the rate at which new users are coming online has reportedly slowed dramatically in recent years. And then, there are growing threats to democracy and human rights in the digital sphere. CIPESA is part of a core group of stakeholders led by the Web Foundation, which includes AnchorFreeGoogleThe New Now,, and the governments of France and Germany, working to build the Contract for the Web as a road map for a web that works for everyone, everywhere - where we can collectively define our responsibilities towards ensuring a free, open and fair web.

Latest Report Explores Despots and Network Disruptions in Africa
The first month of the year saw network disruptions in at least five African countries. In our latest report, Despots and Disruptions: Five Dimensions of Internet Shutdowns in Africa (English| French), we sketch a link between the level of authoritarianism in a country and how long a president has been in power, and the likelihood of experiencing a network shutdown. It indicates that countries whose leaders have been in power for several years are more likely to order internet shutdowns. As of January 2019, of the 14 African leaders who had been in power for 13 years or more, 79% had ordered shutdowns, mostly during election periods and public protests against government policies as depicted in the image below.

Social Media Shutdown in Chad: Special Rapporteurs of Freedom of Expression Petitioned
March 28, 2019 will mark a year without access to social media platforms for citizens in Chad. The current disruption, which has left internet users in Chad unable to utilise platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter was initiated after an initial complete internet shutdown in January 2018, which lasted 48 hours. Alongside 78 organisations from across the world, CIPESA and our OpenNet Africa initiative joined in petitioning freedom of expression Special Rapporteurs Lawrence Mute of the African Commission and David Kaye of the United Nations, urging them to help restore social media access in Chad.

Documentary: Citizens Offline-The state, the companies & internet shutdowns

We are pleased to have contributed to this short form documentary which was recently screened at the Amakula International Film Festival 2019 in Uganda. The documentary, which was also nominated for a Golden Impala Award, examines the recurring phenomenon of internet shutdowns in Africa and was produced by  Tina Freyburg, Veronique Wavre, and Lisa Garbe with support from the Swiss National Fund for International Studies and the Basic Research fund (GFF) from the University of St. Gallen.

Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria
We supported the online campaign  calling for the signing into law of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill which is Africa’s first proposed law dedicated to protecting digital rights and online freedom. However, on March 20, President Muhammadu Buhari declined to assent to the bill, much to the dismay of the African digital rights community.

Improving Access to Tech for Persons With Disabilities
Last year, Uganda’s communications regulator commissioned a study to establish the status of access and usage of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). CIPESA made submissions to the commission, which could help various government agencies to devise strategies that meaningfully improve usage of digital technologies by PWDs. Find more on our submission here.

In Uganda, we joined Unwanted Witness and Article 19 in a workshop on Internet Access and Telecommunications, the Right to Expression, Access to Information, and the Right to Privacy which emphasized the need for cross-sectoral collaboration in digital rights advocacy in the region.  This was followed by a regional strategic meeting of the Women At Web initiative which is focused on interventions to raise public awareness about cyber violence against women and protect women online more effectively. The meeting included representation from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda - for which CIPESA is leading the efforts. As part of the commemoration of International Women’s Day we participated in the global online campaign for equality, linking it to other online campaigns including the celebration of 30 years of the web (#Web30) and the contract for the web (#ForTheWeb). We also featured in the #WomenInHumanRightsUg campaign.

In Zambia, we continue to liaise with stakeholders on recent media freedom developments and avenues for advocacy following a December 2018 dialogue and capacity building engagement with media, law enforcement, legal fraternity and technologists, among others.

In partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), we co-hosted the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms coalition strategy retreat held on  February 18-20 in Entebbe, Uganda. The meeting aimed to kick-start the process of developing a strategic plan to  sharpen the coalition’s advocacy and impact. Lessons from this discussion also contributed to content we shared in a March 22  training workshop for journalists and advocates hosted by the Legal Aid Service Provider Network (LASPNET) in Kampala, Uganda on freedom of expression and access to information.

In partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) towards the end of February, we co-hosted a  workshop themed “Digital Space and the Protection of Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly in Africa” which was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop also served as a consultative meeting with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Clement Voule.

As a member of the Digital Security Alliance (DSA), some online insights were shared as part of the online campaign of the Human Rights Defenders Forum which took place in Kampala, Uganda.  The Meeting was hosted by the Human Rights Centre and serves to highlight the highlighted environment in which human rights defenders operate in Uganda. Alliance partner, the Defenders Protection Initiative led a digital security clinic at the Forum..

Promoting Access To Information through ICT
As part of our work on promoting access to information in various countries, we assessed the performance of the Ask Your Government ( online portal which enables citizens to make information requests directly to any Ministry, Department or Agency in the government of Uganda. Four years since the portal’s launch, it is evident that whereas the number of information requests and registered entities has increased, responsiveness by public officials is low. See more insights here.

On The Calendar
We will be contributing to the learning and policy activities of the Global Network Initiative (GNI) in London at the end of March, as well as on the Internet of Things (IoT), Security, Privacy and Digital Identity at a two day workshop organised by the Omidyar Network, Internet Society and the Africa Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in early April. In March, we will also be in Nairobi, Kenya to contribute to engagements on the Facebook  announcement of the creation of an external oversight board while towards the end of April we will attend the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum 2019 (#DRIF19)  hosted by Paradigm Initiative in Lagos, Nigeria.
We will be at the Consumers International Summit 2019 which will bring together diverse perspectives on both the digital world and consumer needs with the goal of putting consumers at the heart of digital innovation. The summit will be the first time, on a truly global scale, that those who create digital products and services and representatives of those who use and regulate them will come together with the goal of catalysing change. The Summit also aims to create breakthroughs and innovations which will benefit consumers, digital businesses and society as a whole.

Would you like to meet at the Summit? Drop an email to

In The Media

Collaboration for International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
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