African Internets Stakeholders Canvas Freedom Online

Dr. Wakabi Wairagala, Executive Director, CEPESA
Dr. Wakabi Wairagala, Executive Director, CIPESA

Internet stakeholders have called on governments across Africa to ensure open internet to checkmate the rising incidents of Internet shut downs in Africa. The call was made at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) organized by Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) in collaboration with Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), heldon September 26–28, 2018 in Accra, Ghana.

 The forum that started with a welcome and opening remarks by Mr. Sulemana Braimah , Executive Director of MFWA and Dr. Wairagala Wakabi, Executive Director of CIPESA.

 The keynote address titled “Many African Governments Hate the Free Internet – And That Is A Very Good Thing” was delivered by Charles Onyango-Obbo from Africapedia. Charles noted that the African leaders understand the internet more than the good guys adding the Internet has finally ceased from being the state narrative to an instrument of power.

 The Forum is a landmark event that convenes various stakeholders from the internet governance and online rights arenas across Africa while issues relating access to information, free expression, non-discrimination and the free flow of information online on the continent were discussed.

 FIFAfrica is organized to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). Engagements at the Forum aim to reflect current trends and concerns in access and usage of the internet and related technologies on the continent. It brought together various multi-stakeholder groups such as lawyers, media practitioners, civil society, public service, etc. to discuss the issue of digital rights and internet freedom on the continent.

 The event started in 2014 in Uganda and had the 2015 and 2016 editions hosted in same country, while the 2017 edition was hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international network and non-profit organisation that works towards a free and open internet.

The forum also provided opportunity for internet actors, NGOs and individual to meet Internet Freedom Donors at FIFAfrica 2018 where representatives from Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, Open Technology Fund; US Bureau of Democracy, Human rights and Labor; and Internews discussed their available funding programmes and how civil society can access these funds. They further discussed the time frame their various organisations take to finalise the process of giving out a grant.