The Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), an arena where tough topical global issues around Internet rights, especially in Africa, are discussed between civil society, technology companies, government, academia and other stakeholders saw its 7th edition last month in Lagos.
For the first time after its new direction and name change, the Forum focused considerable time and energy on digital inclusion, after organising six editions that focused heavily on digital rights.
DRIF 19 saw delegates from over 30 countries with speakers who knew what they were about in the bridge for Internet’s health.The event which spanned over three days, held in Lagos, Nigeria, from April 23-25 presented a unique platform for discussions and engagement around current trends and emerging issues affecting Internet Freedom in Africa with specific examples sighting Nigeria as a hub for growth in digital expansion in West Africa.
While delegates expressed concern at the spate of violation of human rights online on the African continent, many were of the view that calling for a renewed action to protect the digital space from rights violations was a necessity. The challenges facing the digital rights space on the continent includes internet shutdown, harassment of internet users and online journalists and this has also led to the lack of data protection laws in many countries. This issue has also ignited a group with a power-movement where many civil societies including the Global Repository for Internet Studies (GRIS) believes that the Internet has to be protected and remain open for the flow and access to information for many minority groups on the continent.
Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Benin and DR Congo are some of the popular countries who have either shut down the internet or restricted access to services in 2019 and this adds to Africa being hail as the leader with the highest number of countries shutting down the internet or restricting service.The just ended Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum explored several topics including exploring the state of data protection and privacy laws on the continent, moving policy makers into action to advance digital inclusion, community networks and alternative models for internet access provision, financing digital rights programs among many others which Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative used the opportunity to urge delegates to continue contributing to working towards making the Internet safe and open for all.
DRIF19 was organised by Paradigm Initiative and supported by Google, Ford Foundation, and Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
A Ghanaian media practitioner, digital marketer, and influencer marketing specialist with a major focus on tourism, emerging technologies, and e-commerce.