African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms launched

African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms launched - Digital

Camilita Ajiambo Siata types on a computer keyboard. She works for a Nairobi internet provider as a website designer, having gained professional training at Nairobits, a non-profit organisation which educates and trains youth from the poorer areas of the city. Camilita earns to support her whole family.

ARTICLE 19 and over 20 other organisations working on internet governance in Africa today celebrated the launch of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms at the 18th annual Highway Africa Conference at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. This follows a soft launch at the global Internet Governance Forum held in Istanbul, Turkey last week.

The Declaration is an initiative of African civil society to define and strengthen internet principles, standards and responsibilities in Africa. It aims to advance a movement in support of an internet which is accessible, locally relevant, and a tool for successful development. ARTICLE 19 is a member of the group which developed the text of the Declaration via a consultative process which sought both individual and organisational input.

Internet rights and freedoms tend to be under-prioritized on the rights agenda in Africa. The internet needs to be properly understood and harnessed as an essential tool for development where a significant impact on livelihoods, vocational skills and citizen participation can be had,” said Stephanie Muchai of Article 19 East Africa during the Highway Africa 2014 conference.

The African Declaration recognises continent specific elements such as Africa’s linguistic and cultural diversity with a call for the protection, respect and promotion of African languages on the internet. It has received support and been lauded as a flagship initiative for the internet in Africa.

ARTICLE 19 calls for broad multi stakeholder endorsement of the Declaration noting that the internet is not the preserve of the technology sector. It also calls upon African governments to initiate public consultations towards mutli-stakeholder driven policies and practices related to internet governance in their countries.

Significant investment in ICT infrastructure at all levels of development is vital to achieving broad participation in decision making, enhancing access to information and removing barriers to public service. This will serve to advance equitable economic growth and sustainable development.

Endorse the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms here –