On 22 and 23 May 2023, a Regional Stakeholder Convening on Digital Rights and Inclusive Internet Governance in Southern Africa was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event was organised by the Namibia Media Trust (NMT) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) with support from OSF. It was facilitated by Anriette Esterhuysen.
With the project titled: ‘The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms: Fostering a human rights-centered approach to privacy, data protection and access to the internet in Southern Africa’ nearing closure, the partners needed to convene to critically unpack and review the experiences of the last two years, as well as look ahead to how the work implemented by national partners can be carried forward sustainably. A project review meeting with the project team took place alongside the consultation, to review the project implementation experience and outcomes and to strategize around sustaining partner activities in-country, as well as regional collaboration among the partners.
In essence the convening brought together a combined total of 21 participants, 6 males and 15 females from six Southern African countries to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to digital rights in the region. Over the course of two days, representatives from project partners in Eswatini, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe shared their experiences and concerns regarding digital rights violations. They were joined by resource persons from South Africa.
The presentations emphasized the need for improved legislation, increased awareness, collaboration among civil society organizations (CSOs), and engagement with policymakers and regulatory bodies. The discussions revolved around issues such as access to affordable internet, surveillance, freedom of expression, data protection, and the impact of emerging technologies.
This report aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the discussions and outline recommendations for addressing the identified challenges.