Activists from around the world joined a session at the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, Spain, to discuss advocacy and global solidarity on internet rights in African countries. Two current initiatives were introduced to the participants: the African Declaration on Internet Rights and FAST Africa. Following these presentations, the participants shared examples of their own projects and advocacy work. I joined an African Internet Rights meeting at the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) in Valencia, Spain with the commitment to listen to the needs, concerns and priorities of the African participants. The session, “Strengthening advocacy for Internet Freedoms in Africa” took place on 4 March 2016 and revolved around how to advocate for human rights by working for a freer, better and more affordable internet on the African continent. A presentation of two initiatives helped frame the discussions: the FAST Africa grassroots campaign led by Web Foundation for full-speed internet for all, and the African Declaration on Internet Rights, a resource to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in Internet policy formulation and implementation in African countries. Led by journalist and women's rights defender Françoise Mukuku, Sheetal Kumar of Global Partners Digital and Renata Avila, human rights lawyer and Global Campaign Manager of the Web We Want initiative of the World Wide Web Foundation, the session was joined by 15 other participants. All discussions emerged from one key idea: the importance of using, sharing and showcasing strategies and tools “made in Africa” which are adjusted to the context and needs of African countries.
Despite the continent's huge diversity, some of the main challenges and obstacles are common across countries and were a strong focus of discussion, namely: lack of physical infrastructure, lack of affordability, quality and speed, low literacy and ICT skills, and the digital and gender divides. Here are the most memorable points from the discussion:
The session moved from the frameworks, challenges and opportunities to specific action, with examples of how the participants are organising to help make Africa lead the way in the fight for internet rights advocacy. Stay tuned, get involved, and follow #AfricanInternetRights on Twitter for live news and updates. Are you attending an African Internet Rights event? Share your thoughts and reflections following these guidelines and by emailing us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org