Paradig­mini­tia­tive Moves To Se­cure Pri­vacy, Free Ex­pres­sion Of Nige­ri­ans On­line

• Ex­perts As­sess State of In­ter­net Free­dom in Africa At IFF2018

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - DIGITAL WORLD | YOUR MONEY -

FOR three days, dig­i­tal rights ex­perts and stake­hold­ers as­sessed the state of In­ter­net free­dom in Africa. This was at the re­cently con­cluded 6th In­ter­net Free­dom Fo­rum or­gan­ised by Par­a­digm Ini­tia­tive at NAF Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, Abuja, be­tween April 24 and 26, 2018.

The ex­perts, who came from coun­tries across Africa and the world, gath­ered in Abuja to help shape the fu­ture of pol­icy on the In­ter­net in Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to Tope Ogundipe, the Di­rec­tor of Pro­grams at Par­a­digm Ini­tia­tive: “The In­ter­net is rapidly chang­ing every as­pect of life in Africa - in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, work, busi­ness, en­ter­tain­ment, gov­er­nance and health, amongst oth­ers. Its grow­ing im­por­tance has made it a con­tention ground for in­ter­ests in gov­ern­ment, the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety. The Fo­rum, there­fore, serves as a plat­form to ac­tively and proac­tively en­gage with poli­cies that af­fect free­dom and rights on­line.”

Speak­ing at the event, Titi Akin­sanmi, Head Pub­lic Pol­icy and Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions at Google stated: “The In­ter­net has be­come an in­dis­pens­able tool for de­vel­op­ment in all sec­tors of life. All hands must be on deck to en­able more ac­cess to the In­ter­net, and to elim­i­nate abuses such as pri­vacy vi­o­la­tions.”

Also speak­ing at the event, Akua Gyekye, Pub­lic Pol­icy Man­ager

West Africa for Face­book, re­marked: “As Nige­ria ap­proaches the 2019 elec­tions, the In­ter­net is a use­ful ve­hi­cle for civic ed­u­ca­tion for cit­i­zens on the best prac­tices for po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion. Face­book will work with stake­hold­ers in Nige­ria to en­sure that our plat­form is not abused to im­pact neg­a­tively on the elec­tions.” Nnenna Wakama, Se­nior Man­ager, Africa, for the World Wide Web foun­da­tion, high­lighted the chal­lenge of the ris­ing cost of In­ter­net data across the con­ti­nent say­ing, “The con­ver­sa­tion on In­ter­net free- dom must be­gin at look­ing at the pro­hib­i­tive cost of data bun­dles which pre­vents mil­lions of peo­ple from ac­cess­ing the In­ter­net in Africa.”

On the side ses­sion on Nige­ria’s Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Pro­vi­sion Fund (USPF), Mr Da­men Ilevbaoje, Pro­gram Man­ager at Budgit

Nige­ria, stated that, “trans­par­ent and ef­fec­tive use of the Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Pro­vi­sion Fund is a pri­or­ity if In­ter­net ac­cess is to reach un­der­served ar­eas in Nige­ria’s ru­ral ar­eas”

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Par­a­digm Ini­tia­tive, ‘Gbenga Se­san, also noted: “The In­ter­net is with­out doubt one of the most im­por­tant tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions of the 20th cen­tury, and has rad­i­cally trans­formed every as­pect of our mod­ern so­ci­ety.

IFF 2018 is con­tin­u­a­tion of the con­ver­sa­tion we must con­tinue to have with all stake­hold­ers as we seek to build a healthy and free In­ter­net space for Africa, and the world”. He fur­ther said: “In con­tin­u­a­tion of this im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tion and to cater for an ex­panded au­di­ence, from 2019 the In­ter­net Free­dom Fo­rum will now be known as the “Dig­i­tal Rights and In­clu­sion Fo­rum.” Par­a­digm Ini­tia­tive also an­nounced the cre­ation of a Dig­i­tal Rights and In­clu­sion Me­dia Fel­low­ship, which is de­signed to give “me­dia pro­fes­sion­als, who are im­por­tant stake­hold­ers in this con­ver­sa­tion, an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with pro­fes­sion­als work­ing on dig­i­tal rights and in­clu­sion across the con­ti­nent.”

The In­ter­net Free­dom Fo­rum wel­comed over 200 del­e­gates from some 30 coun­tries in Africa and be­yond and re­ceived sup­port from or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft, Ford Foun­da­tion, The­guardian, Mozilla, Google, Face­book, Pre­mium Times and Civi­cus. For­mor­e­in­for­ma­tion­pleasec­on­tact­sodiqal­abi,par­a­digm Ini­tia­tive’scom­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer,vi­a­[email protected]

Par­tic­pants at the fo­rum

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