Accra to host the biggest Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) event

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

Ghana’s vibrant capital city Accra will be hosting this year’s biggest Internet Freedom Forum from September 26 to 28, 2018.

The forum, which will be held under the theme Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica), is expected to bring together key stakeholders in the Internet governance and online/digital rights environment from the continent and beyond.

It will also be the first time the FIFAfrica event is being held in West Africa. Last year’s event was held in South Africa while the maiden event in 2014 and subsequent editions were held in Uganda.

Ghana’s Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will be hosting the forum jointly with the Uganda-based organization, Collaboration for International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

According to official statement available, the forum is convened annually by CIPESA to deliberate on developments, challenges, opportunities and ways of improving the Internet ecosystem in Africa. It said participants also adopt strategies aimed at enhancing citizens’ digital or internet rights on the continent.

The statement however noted among other thing how the internet has become a vital tool for enhancing freedom of expression, access to information and citizens’ participation in national discourse and governance, at the same time, becoming the target of hostile policies and practices by some governments. “It is thus important for all stakeholders to dialogue on how to preserve the internet for development,” it said.

The Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah said his outfit is delighted to co-host this important continental forum on Internet freedom. “There couldn’t have been a better time to host this event in West Africa as the region is currently witnessing significant developments and challenges in the internet environment,” he stated

“Online freedom of expression has come under attack in recent years in Africa. Over the past one year, countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have passed laws to restrict internet freedom.  There have also been network disruptions and shutdowns in about seven African countries over the same period. Besides, there have been increasing incidents of arrest and detentions of citizens, bloggers and journalists for their social media activities,” the statement added.

The FIFAfrica event will also coincide with the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI), which is observed on September 28 each year. The day has been set aside by the UNESCO to mark the importance of universal public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The FIFAfrica event is scheduled to take place at the La-Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, and is expected to host about 300 participants from dozens of countries in Africa and around the world.

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