The COVID-19 pandemic has situated the internet and other digital technologies as an integral part of everyday life. This is evidenced by the significant shift of daily communication, education, work, trade, transacting and access to basic services from face-to-face interaction to online. As a result, the key challenges faced by the digital rights community prior to the pandemic, which were identified by the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition (AfDec Coalition) in a position paper, have come into sharp focus.
For Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, challenges related to affordable access to the internet, privacy and data protection continue to hinder democracy and development in the digital environment.
This initiative has the overall purpose of increasing advocacy for an open and democratic digital environment in Southern Africa that promotes and protects access to the internet and privacy rights online, in order to, first, increase the capacity of civil society actors, human rights defenders and media rights activists to engage with online rights to privacy, access and affordability of the internet across target countries in Southern Africa; second, promote and protect online rights by national oversight mechanisms through training and engagement of relevant institutions; and third, collaborate with civil society actors, human rights defenders and media groups in Southern Africa to influence regional and global internet-related policy processes to help ensure that they respect human rights online.
Some of the activities implemented by this project are:
Compiling and contributing to the editions of the Southern Africa Digital Rights digest.
Convening face-to-face or online engagements with either civil society organisations and human rights defenders or policy makers and office/duty bearers in each of the respective countries.
Participating in local, regional or international internet governance processes.
The project "Fostering a human rights-centred approach to privacy, data protection and access to the internet in Southern Africa" is coordinated by the AfDec Coalition through its Secretariat, which is composed of the Association for Progressive Communications, Media Rights Agenda and the Media Foundation for West Africa, along with the Namibia Media Trust, with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.
Read the Southern Africa Digital Rights issues:
Do you want to learn more about the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms? Visit the website here.
Image: Cover of Southern Africa Digital Rights issue number 1.