Internet Freedom in Africa: Navigating the challenges

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Internet Freedom in Africa: Navigating the challenges
Presenter(s) Lillian Nalwoga; Sekoetlane Phamodi; Gbenga Sesan; Grace Mbomu, Sylvia Musalagani
Title(s) Programme Manager; Africa Policy/Regional Coordinator; Executive Director; Associate; Programme Officer
Organization(s) CIPESA; Association for Progressive Communications; Paradigm Initiative Nigeria; Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet); HIVOS East Africa
Project(s) OpenNet Africa
Country(ies) Uganda
Social media @opennetafrica, @cipesaUg
2017 theme Regions & Groups

2017 theme Regions & Groups

This session seeks to spark a conversation on current Internet Freedom challenges in Africa while providing possible solutions. Internet use in Africa is increasing with the growth of the mobile industry which, offers many Africans easy access to a wide range of social and economic services. However, as more users get online, so have been abuses and attacks on their digital rights. This is further fueled by a proliferation of laws negating internet freedom including legal and extra-legal affronts and limited judicial oversight over surveillance and interception of communications. The 2016 Freedom on The Net report highlights an overall decline in Internet freedom and with increased attacks on social media users. For the African countries covered, major declines were registered for Uganda and Gambia while only Kenya and South Africa feature as “free” in the Freedom House report. This year has also seen an increase in internet and social media shutdowns in various African countries such Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia and Chad among others. Such actions undermine free flow of information and impact negatively on citizen digital rights.

The session will thus explore the impact of these issues on citizens' right to information, privacy and free speech online in Africa. The session seeks to draw from CIPESA’s experience and lessons learnt from researching and advocating for internet freedom in Africa thus providing participants an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of key internet freedom issues in Africa. Since 2012, CIPESA’s OpenNet Africa initiative ( has researched and documented internet freedoms violations, conducted awareness raising and digital security skills trainings, and maintained a one-stop resource portal on internet freedoms on the continent

The session will explore two questions i.e. 1. What is the current status of internet freedom in Africa? 2. How can we ensure a sustainable approach in addressing Internet Freedom challenges in Africa?

Format Conversation
Target Groups CSO, Policy makers, Techies, academia
Length 1 hr
Skill Level Novice - Introductory, no previous knowledge required
Language English

Session Outputs

Session report, blog post

Next Steps

Additional Notes

Relevant Resources

State of Internet Freedom in Africa, 2016,; State of Internet Freedom in Africa 2015,