From April 24 to April 26, 2018, the city of Abuja will play host to the annual Internet Freedom Forum organized by Paradigm Initiative. The forum comes at an important time when many Africans fear for their freedom online. According to Paradigm Initiative, the Lagos-based organizers of the Forum, “the Forum helps bring attention to important issues confronting digital rights such as data privacy, internet shutdown, access to the internet, among others”
The Forum, over the years, has gained the reputation as the platform where experts deliberate on issues relating to digital rights and inclusion. The Forum, now in its the sixth edition, will welcome delegates from some thirty countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Cameroon, Togo, United Kingdom and the United States. The Forum will also be live-streamed to the whole world to encourage virtual participation.
Speakers at the Forum will include Ayisha Osori, the author of Love Does not Win Elections, Tolu Ogunlesi, Nigerian President’s Special Assistant on Digital Media, and Titi Akinsanmi, Head, Government Relations and Public Policy at Google. Others are Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher of Premium Times, Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager, and Afef Abrougui of Ranking Digital Rights.
According to Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs of Paradigm Initiative, “IFF2018 provides an important platform to discuss issues that bother many Africans. The sessions and side-sessions at IFF 2018 cover some of the most pertinent themes relating to digital rights and inclusion in Africa. These include, “How to Ruin Elections in Africa”, “Cybercrime Laws and Freedom of Expression”, “Bridging Gender Knowledge Gap in Wikipedia”.”
“The forum will also discuss the state of internet in various African countries with a report from scores of, “Gender, Open Data, and AI: Intersecting for Digital Equality”, “Empowering Human Rights Defenders in Digital Era In Africa” and “Building a Healthy Internet in Africa.”
The Forum, which holds at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, is supported by organizations including Microsoft, Ford Foundation, Google, Facebook, Premium Times, The Guardian and Civicus. Session organizers at the Forum include Amnesty International, Web Foundation, BudgIT, and Mozilla.
“The range and depth of the discussions which have taken place at previous editions of the IFF have positioned the IFF as one of the premier platforms for shaping the conversations and policy outcomes on the Internet in Africa. The diversity of conversations also caters for the diverse range of participants within the continent and beyond, and across civil society, the private sector, academia, government and other stakeholders,” Ogundipe concluded.