Here is the latest on the annual Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica)
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
The seventh edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) kicked off on a high with the first day commemorating the International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) on which it coincided. Several sessions recognised access to information as one of the pillars for an inclusive digital society including as an enabler for political engagement, empowerment, transparency and accountability. Data privacy, strategic litigation, elections, consumer protection, content regulation, network disruptions and countering misinformation and tech innovation in times of Covid-19 were among the topics featured in sessions in addition to skills building in data literacy and digital security.
Day two of FIFAfrica20 will be just as exciting and packed with an amazing lineup of sessions! These include a conversation with writer and political analyst, Nanjala Nyabola, academic, social justice activist and aspiring politician, alongside Dr. Stella Nyanzi who will engage on a range of issues including civic space, politics and democracy through to researching feminism in Africa.
CIPESA will launch its annual State of Internet Freedom in Africa report themed Resetting Digital Rights Amidst the Covid-19 Fall Out. Another launch will be that of the #RestoreDataRights Declaration which sets out guiding principles for data use during Covid-19 and a Call to Action for civil society, academics, and allies; governments; the African Union, United Nations, and international development partners. The Declaration is an initiative of the Open Institute and Data Ready.
The Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) will host a dialogue on Encryption and the Africa Region which will introduce the Coalition to the FIFAfrica20 community. It will also scope out the landscape of threats to encryption in order to enhance understanding of the issues as it pertains to the different contexts on the continent and identify possible areas for cooperation.
Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF) grantee, iWatch Africa will host a session on Countering Online Abuse and Harassment of Journalists and Rights Activists in Africa. Often, journalists who report on contested social and political issues increasingly find themselves the target of abuse through social media, online comment fora and other online means, in some cases including violent threats of death and rape. According to the 2018 International Press Institute (IPI) report, 31 percent of journalists tone down coverage of certain stories after being abused and harassed online, while 15 percent drop their stories altogether. Among the issues that iWatch’s session will address include the role of journalists, governments, law enforcement and civil society in dealing with online abuse and harassment in the Ghana context.
With the burgeoning digital economy in recent months, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) will host the Building Inclusive Digital Economies Across Africa session which will examine successful efforts that support small businesses and entrepreneurs across Africa in transitioning operations online. It will also explore the topics of digital commerce, inclusivity and resilience as well as strategize ways to advance multi-stakeholder policy discussions that shape an enabling environment for a competitive digital economy across Africa.
Meanwhile, Ford Foundation will host an Ask the Donor’s session which will explore best practices from the field on how organizations can re-establish norms and relationships with funders and donors in the age of Covid-19. Representatives from the Omidyar Network, Open Technology Fund (OTF), and the Internet Society Foundation, will provide perspectives about where they see things headed in the future and how organizations can best position themselves for support post-pandemic.
At the FIFAfrica20 hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Zaina Foundation will convene a workshop to deliberate on digital rights in Tanzania with reference to the shrinking environment for advocacy work in the run up to the October 2020 general elections. At another FIFAfrica20 hub in Dakar, Senegal, stakeholders (state, private sector and civil society) will engage on misinformation and its impact on freedom of expression online during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Continuing from day one will be the Data Skills Foundation Course, with guest speaker Nelson Kwaje of #DefyHateNow South Sudan who will share his experience on data-driven projects on misinformation, hate speech and freedom of expression online. Furthermore, the Digital Security Hub, featuring multilingual (English, French and Arabic) tech security experts from across the continent, on hand to provide personal and organisation digital security support.
An Ever Evolving Forum
FIFAfrica was first held in Kampala, Uganda between 2014 and 2016. Since then, its expanding footprint saw it being hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in 2017, and in Accra, Ghana in partnership with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in 2018. In 2019, FIFAfrica was hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, alongside the Ethiopia Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT). See more from the Scene at #FIFAfrica20!