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Saturday, June 10, 2023

    Paradigm Initiative Makes Digital Inclusion Call

    Paradigm Initiative has called on African governments to remove barriers to internet and mobile services access in order to ensure universal access.

    Development Diaries reports that the nonprofit made this known in its 2022 Londa – Digital Rights and Inclusion in Africa report.

    The organisation also called on governments to uphold constitutional and international obligations and refrain from digital authoritarianism characterised by aggressive and sophisticated measures that curtail internet freedoms.

    The report cited the persistent internet connectivity gaps that exist across the continent as a common problem.

    According to the report, despite the efforts by African governments to bridge the digital divide and build digital economies, the perennial gaps in access persist in the continent.

    ‘People with disabilities and under-served communities face significant barriers, including a lack of accessible infrastructure, digital literacy skills, and affordability of assistive devices’, the report read.

    ‘Access to digital opportunities by women and girls, including ICT education, still needs
    improvement. Despite progress in bridging this divide, men continue to outrank women
    in various indices, from the adoption and use of ICT tools to employment opportunities.

    ‘The introduction of prohibitive levies and taxes, which emerged as a common theme in the
    period under review, further impeded general access, as seen in Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda, amongst others’.

    The report, which covered 24 African countries, focused on cross-cutting issues affecting
    digital rights and internet freedom in 2022.

    It revealed that Ghana was reported by the Media Foundation for West Africa
    (MFWA) to be the most repressive West African country in the first quarter of 2022, with 11
    violations of press freedom.

    It also said Nigeria had five violations for blocking online content and social media platforms, directing media groups to stop using Twitter and threatening legal action against Nigerians who accessed the service via circumvention techniques.

    It further disclosed that Angola had challenges with internet freedom as internet access remained expensive.

    ‘Network challenges made it difficult for users to access the internet without interruptions, especially in rural areas – a common refrain across the continent’, the report read.

    Paradigm Initiative urged African civil society organisations (CSOs) to create national reference guides on digital rights strategies and collaborate with governments to promote more meaningful deliberations on digital rights-related resolutions.

    The nonprofit also urged CSOs to encourage activism and citizenship movements using social media networks, particularly in rural areas, and take action to report violations of digital rights.

    Photo source: The Brussels Times

    Chinomso Momoh
    Chinomso Momohhttp://www.impacthouse.org.ng
    Chinomso Thelma Momoh is a Journalist with nine (9) years of experience in journalism, media and communication.

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