African government’s shutdowns stifling Internet expansion

African government’s shutdowns stifling Internet expansion
African government’s shutdowns stifling Internet expansion

A Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) Report has blamed the slow pace of Internet growth in Africa on some activities embarked upon by the various governments.

The report, with focus on digital rights in Africa, titled: “Choking The Pipe: How Governments Hurt Internet Freedom On A Continent That Needs More Access,” identified among others, some policy inconsistencies that had impacted on Internet growth in the region.

It builds on PIN’s earlier work that profiled each year over the last two years, the status of digital rights in Nigeria, and features information about the status of digital rights in 30 African countries.

These included five countries in Central Africa (Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Gabon); seven East African countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda).

Others were four countries in North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia); nine West African countries (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone); and five countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

Executive Director, PIN, Gbenga Sesan, said: “We create awareness on the threat to Internet freedom and provide information on what can be done to improve digital rights across African countries. PIN leads advocacy efforts for digital rights of citizens and other stakeholders; complete digital rights training for media, advocates and civil society organisations; host the annual Internet Freedom Forum where various stakeholders discuss prevailing issues. We also produce this annual report that highlights incidents and discusses digital rights challenges and opportunities across the continent.”

Sesan believed that active citizens and civil society constrain the tendency of those who abuse positions of authority to perpetuate digital rights violations.

“With at least 10 countries imposing Internet or Internet application shutdowns, unfortunately, Africa was the hotbed for violations to digital rights. Africa is already behind on many development indices but the Internet presents perhaps a chance to bridge many of those gaps through the access it grants to life-changing information, communications, education, opportunities and its role in the development of the political space,” Sesan said.

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