A Partnership to Advance Digital Rights and Internet Development in Africa
By Israel Nyoh |
The Internet Society and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) recently signed an agreement to work together for an open, secure, and trustworthy Internet for Africa.
A digital revolution is transforming markets and societies across Africa. Digitalization is helping governments to generate more income, while enabling e-commerce, e-health, and automation, which is strengthening African economies. But, as is often the case, with each technological promise there is also a threat. Because many African countries grapple with digital literacy and security challenges, digital technologies are being used to foster cyber criminality and cyber surveillance, while governments sometimes deny citizens their digital rights.
The agreement commits the Internet Society and CIPESA to advancing progressive Internet policy, advocating for the Internet way of networking, encryption, and measuring the health of digital infrastructure in the region.
Actions that promote a “trustworthy Internet to every African are of critical importance for the digital transformation plans that many African countries are implementing,” says Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President for Africa, Internet Society.
The two organizations have further committed to:
- Share knowledge, ideas, and lessons learned in Internet policy, encryption, and the Internet way of networking in Africa.
- Pool efforts and expertise in responding to Internet policy issues in Africa.
- Undertake joint research and stakeholder engagements, and lead advocacy on critical Internet policy and Internet development issues in the region.
CIPESA has a history of advocating for digital rights and building capacity on digital security in Africa, mostly through research, stakeholder engagements, and knowledge sharing. This agreement with the Internet Society will strengthen CIPESA’s efforts while enabling it to also reach new constituencies in Africa.
Wairagala Wakabi, Executive Director of CIPESA, says, “The key to meaningfully promoting digital rights and Internet development in Africa lies in multi-sector partnerships that leverage varied expertise, address the critical and emerging issues, and steadily reach wider constituencies of multiple stakeholders.”
HISTORY OF COLLABORATION
The Internet Society and CIPESA have been working together for close to a decade to advance digital rights in Africa.
Their work has focused on strengthening the development of personal data protection guidelines for Africa, fighting against Internet shutdown and restrictions, and growing the community of people advancing digital rights and Internet development in Africa, through the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica).
This article was first published by the Internet Society on August 19, 2021.