A 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report has revealed shocking details of how African countries are now adopting repressive models of Informational controls borrowed from authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China.
The report, which was released by Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa, described as a worrying signal, which forebodes ill for the future of open and inclusive societies in Africa.
According to Emmanuel Vitus, Communications Officer at Paradigm Initiative, the adopted model is happening through a motley of targeted shutdowns, surveillance, arbitrary legislation to silence digital users.
“African nations are becoming adept at controlling information both inside and outside their borders,” he said in a press release to announce the finding of the report titled, ‘Violations Reloaded: Government Overreach Persists despite Increased Civil Society Advocacy’.
The 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report builds on previous reports published since 2016, which gave an in-depth analysis of the state of digital rights in Africa and examines violations such as Internet disruptions, illegal surveillance, the arrest of bloggers and the passage of hurtful legislation, amongst others.
The report takes a critical look at the state of digital rights in 13 African countries – Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Speaking further, Vitus noted that in addition to the publication of the 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report, Paradigm Initiative currently working with a media company to convert the report into a short movie. This will be followed by regional media briefings that will discuss our findings from the report, across Paradigm Initiative’s offices in Accra, Abuja, Arusha, Lagos, Lusaka and Yaoundé, later in the year. The report is available for download, via Paradigm Initiative’s website, in English and French.
Meanwhile, Paradigm Initiative’s Digital Rights Program Officer for Southern Africa, Bulanda Nkhowani, has stated digital rights have become increasingly contested in Africa, with rights-limiting legislation, Internet shutdowns and other violations regularly headlining international media reporting.
She said the 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report investigates and documents these violations, serving as a body of evidence for advocacy for greater digital rights. “In the fight against digital rights violations in Africa, civil society must persevere and use all the tools at their disposal, including research, to ensure that digital rights become respected and upheld,’’ he added