A digital rights expert, Tope Ogundipe has urged citizens of various African countries to use their power in the defence of digital rights and other human rights on the continent. Ogundipe, who serves as the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative, was speaking recently at a digital rights workshop organised by Paradigm Initiative and held in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Ogundipe, who facilitated several sessions at the workshop, said “Citizens cannot afford not to get involved in the advocacy in defence of digital rights. Digital rights are as important as other human rights, as the digital space has become a most important centre for economic activities, access to emergency services and platform for exercising freedom of speech and free press”
“Citizens’ rights to express themselves online and offline, gather and disseminate information and ideas are important to the fate of democracy in Africa. Not only that, absence of data privacy and protection, illegal and blanket surveillance, internet shutdowns, and other rights violation all impact negatively on democracy and the economic development of a country. It is the centrality of digital rights that makes them the business of all citizens,” Ogundipe said.
Many African countries have recorded several cases of digital rights violations in the last few years. These include the 2017 internet shutdown in Cameroon, arrest and persecution of bloggers and journalists in countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia. The absence of data privacy and protection law in the majority of the countries also make them an easy target of data breach and abuse.
The digital rights workshop is an initiative of Internews and Paradigm Initiative and received support from Cameroon-based Afro Leadership and Centre for Youth Education and Economic Development. The two inaugural workshops were held over a 4-day period between May 2 and May 6, 2018, and welcomed sixty participants from different regions of Cameroon. Resource persons at the workshop include Rigobert Kenmogne, Google Policy Fellow with Paradigm Initiative, Sodiq Alabi, the Communications Officer of Paradigm Initiative, Charlie Ngouno, the Founder of Afro Leadership, and ‘Gbenga Sesan, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative.