In September, the sixth Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) was hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Malcolm Kijirah and Jackie Akello from CYRILLA partner, the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT), were in attendance to discuss and share views on digital rights and internet freedom in Africa, and to build contacts and advocate for the CYRILLA Collaborative.
FIFAfrica is a landmark event that convenes various stakeholders from the internet governance and digital rights communities in Africa and beyond. Attendees deliberate on gaps, concerns and opportunities regarding key internet issues faced by the continent, such as advancing privacy, access to information, free expression, and non-discrimination. FIFAfrica also provides a platform for responding to rising challenges to the enjoyment of internet freedom in various countries, including arrests and intimidation of online users, internet disruptions, and a proliferation of laws and regulations that undermine the potential of digital technology to drive socio-economic and political development on the continent.
At FIFA, CIPIT hosted a CYRILLA exhibition stand, which was visited by legal practitioners, activists, organizations in the tech space, private individuals, human rights organizations, and research institutions. The team provided information to attendees on the databases being developed, as well as emphasized the significance of the project to the digital rights space. CIPIT also used the platform to build contacts from different jurisdictions, particularly Lusophone, Francophone, West and Central Africa, where it had experienced the challenge of accessing digital rights-related legal data. The exhibition was a success, with CIPIT engaging a number of people interested in learning further information about CYRILLA.
As a member of the Africa Internet Rights Alliance (AIRA), CIPIT also participated in private briefings, during which they made submissions on the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, discussed digital ID systems as a pressing issue on the continent, and attended workshops on effective organizational advocacy. Malcolm found these workshops particularly beneficial, as CIPIT is gearing up for the launch of their Africa ICT Policy Database within the next few months: “Among other things, we were taught how to properly identify what our goal is, lay down the campaign strategy, and take record of the milestones covered. The overall objective of the Collaborative is fostering digital rights literacy across the globe, and we clearly see how these strategies can help us promote the use of our database, and engage in advocacy around its contents.”
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