Facebook Rallies Partners to Unite for Safer, Better Internet
By Dipo Olowookere
Facebook and Today is Safer Internet Day (SID) have launched a series of initiatives to help make the internet a safer and better place for people across Africa, especially children and the youth.
Facebook is partnering with public sector agencies and non-governmental organisations from across Africa under the rallying call “Be the change: unite for a better Internet”.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use Facebook. Every day people come to Facebook to connect with people and issues they care about, and they should be able to do so in a safe, secure environment,” says Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager Facebook, Africa.
Facebook builds products that empower the community to stay in control, support each other during crises and stay safe online. Every Facebook product has privacy and security built into it to protect your information.
Over 100 countries are participating in an effort to start conversations and help people think about the small steps they can take to stay safe online. The initiative is coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe and beyond.
In Africa, Facebook is working with partners such as: Watoto Watch in Kenya, the International Center for Leadership Development and the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre in Nigeria, South Africa’s Film and Publication Board, JOXAfrica Association in Senegal, Tech Women Zimbabwe as well as J Initiative and Ghana Internet Safety Foundation from Ghana to ensure the safety and education of their communities and address the needs of vulnerable people.
Facebook is providing financial and marketing support for them to use to raise awareness about online safety. Facebook is also hosting an event in Johannesburg, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya to promote the importance of online safety to students, teachers, parents and policymakers.
Everyone has a part to play
Gyekye says: “This is an opportunity to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community. We are proud to work with young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, and policymakers to create a better Internet.”
Facebook has redesigned its Safety Center, an engaging resource to help people get the information they need about controlling their information and staying safe. It walks you through the tools Facebook offers to control your experience as well as numerous tips and resources for safe and secure sharing. It is available in over 50 languages, is mobile friendly and includes step-by-step videos.
“As more Zimbabwean women and girls go online to take advantage of the immense opportunities the internet offers, they empower themselves with knowledge, education and connections with others,” says Techwomen Zimbabwe’s Founder, Aretha Mare. “We are determined to break down barriers to the Internet for women and girls so they can maximise the benefits of the Internet – and that includes tackling challenges such as online harassment and bullying.”
Watoto Watch Network: Kenya
“The Internet brings offers great opportunities for Kenya’s youth and children. This year’s Safer Internet Day gives young people the opportunity to voice their views on how to make the internet better,” says Lillian Kariuki, executive director at Watoto Watch Network.
JI Initiative from Ghana
“We are passionate advocates for a safe Internet for young people and children, so we are pleased that Facebook embraces its responsibility to keep people safe on its platform,” says Awo Aidam Amenyah, Executive Director at JI Initiative. “We are pleased to work with Facebook to promote positive online experiences for everyone.”
Ghana Internet Safety Foundation
“The massive support we’ve seen for this year’s Safer Internet Day is truly inspiring,” says Emmanuel Adinkrah, Co-Founder and CEO of Ghana Internet Safety Foundation. “It is heartening to hear about the ways young people are using technology to take positive action online to empower each other and spread kindness. We want to encourage them to keep building a better internet for all.”
Film and Production Board: South Africa
“It is important to have conversations early and often about how inappropriate content on the Internet may affect children,” says Janine Raftopoulos, Manager Communications and Public Education South Africa’s Film & Publications Board (FPB). “Parents, educators, guardians and industry all have a part to play in ensuring that children understand how to stay safe online.”
“We’re pleased with our partnership with Facebook for Safer Internet day to raise awareness and have conversations about staying safe online,” says Felix Bidemi Iziomoh, Executive Director at ICLDING. “We are proud to play a role in uniting our community for a better internet.”
Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC)
“The 2017 theme for the Safer Internet Day ‘Be the change: unite for a better internet’ resonates strongly with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s campaign, ‘The change begins with me’,” says Adeyemi Odutola, Communications Officer at Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC). “We are excited to partner with Facebook to host a day of workshops and fun activities for secondary students, where they will learn how to navigate the Internet confidently and safely.”
Senegal (JOXAfrica Association)
“Protecting children on the Internet is a priority for us as we rally with governments NGOs and private companies for a better online community,” says JOXAfrica Senegal’s Assane Diouf. “Together with Facebook, as the world’s biggest online social network, we can create higher awareness of how we can keep children safe online.”
Africa’s Rise in Technology is Unstoppable—Sanwo-Olu
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has declared that Africa’s rise in technology is unstoppable, noting that his state will continue to play a prominent role in the ecosystem.
The Lagos Governor made this declaration at the GITEX Africa Digital Summit in Morocco, where the state government sponsored 25 startups in partnership with the Dubai World Trade Centre to demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
GITEX Africa Morocco is Africa’s largest and most influential tech and startup event, renowned for showcasing technological advancements, innovations, and digital transformation.
The event provided a platform for Nigerian startups to pitch their ideas, connect with investors, and network with industry leaders on a global scale.
The small firms sponsored by the state government included Pocket Food, Access Tech, Printivo, Startup Lagos, Eko Institute of Technology, Kirgawa, Qore, Imperial EdTech, Bunce, Etaps, and Innovia Labs.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, who also attended the summit with the delegation, highlighted the remarkable growth of Africa’s tech start-up sector and emphasised that Nigerian tech start-ups surpassed the $4 billion mark in 2022, with Lagos playing a leading role in the continent’s digital transformation.
He said that from Nairobi to Cape Town and Rwanda to Morocco, the continent was emerging as a global tech hub, attracting local and international investments.
He then called for continued collaboration between the public and private sectors to harness Africa’s limitless potential.
GITEX Africa Morocco brings together the brightest minds, entrepreneurs, and investors worldwide to explore Africa’s rapidly advancing tech landscape.
With a focus on AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Cloud Computing, and Connectivity, the event offers invaluable insights and opportunities to shape inclusive digital societies and drive technological advancements across various sectors.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos, Tunbosun Alake; the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm; and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs Ibilola Kasunmu, were among the delegation.
The Lagos team and startups were also supported by the Eko Innovation Centre, an innovation hub focused on driving the growth of startups and promoting digital transformation in Nigeria.
Stakeholders Anticipate Emurgo Africa’s State of Web 3.0 in Africa Report
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
All is now set for unveiling the State of Web 3.0 in Africa report by a dynamic blockchain technology company, Emurgo Africa.
The study, the first on the continent, aims to fill a knowledge gap by examining the potential of these technologies to advance social and economic development in Africa.
It presents a detailed view of the current landscape and prospects of Web 3.0 technologies in the region, featuring real-world use cases, possibilities and obstacles connected with their adoption.
It was gathered that work explored various aspects of Web 3.0, such as decentralized finance (DeFi), blockchain technology, digital identity, smart contracts, and data privacy.
It also looked into the regulatory environment, infrastructure, and access to technology in the target nations, identifying areas for development that will facilitate the growth and adoption of Web 3.0 technologies.
The chief executive of Emurgo Africa, Mr Ahmed M. Amer, while commenting on the reports, which would be released on June 23, 2023, at a media conference in Nairobi, Kenya, said, “The future of Web 3.0 technologies in Africa is bright, with the potential to drive unprecedented social, financial and economic development across the continent.
“This report emphasizes the critical importance of collaboration between stakeholders, policymakers, and regulators in fully realizing the transformative power of Web 3.0 technologies in Africa.”
Expected at the unveiling are industry leaders, policymakers and the press, as well as key figures from prominent blockchain investors, developers and ecosystem players, including NODO, CVVC, GreenHouse Capital, PwC and Cardano.
Web 3.0 technologies are gradually becoming popular in Africa, and this report by Emurgo Africa will highlight the rapidly-evolving landscape, providing an in-depth analysis of their impact, opportunities, and challenges and offering recommendations for fostering growth and measurable impact.
The system can potentially bring transformative change to industries such as trade and industry, financial services and lending, supply chain management and logistics and healthcare provision and accessibility.
Factors such as regulatory clarity, infrastructure development, and collaboration between stakeholders will play a significant role in these technologies’ widespread use and successful implementation.
Key findings from the report include the immense opportunities for the African continent through the adoption of Web 3.0 technologies, a staggering 1,668 per cent increase in investment in blockchain technology in Africa between 2021 and 2022, and the crucial importance of collaboration between industry stakeholders, policymakers, and regulators in fostering an environment conducive to the growth of Web 3.0 technologies.
Nigeria, Others Break Pledge Not to Impose Internet Restrictions
By Adedapo Adesanya
A new study showed that Nigeria was among those that pledged to uphold free Internet according to a 2021 United Nations resolution but yet imposed restrictions.
The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to protect and promote human rights online, but some supporting countries have broken their word, according to a study by Cybersecurity company Surfshark, analysing UN countries’ stances in the 2021 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution on the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet.
It was conducted by comparing countries’ stances with data from Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker, Surfshark was able to identify 5 African countries that claimed to support the resolution but “broke their word” by imposing internet restrictions.
On Nigeria’s end, it had one ongoing restriction at the time of the resolution’s adoption but has had no new restrictions since then.
Nigeria had banned Twitter a month before the adoption, and the restriction lasted until January 2022.
The federal government suspended Twitter on June 4, 2021, after it removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists.
The FG told the nation’s telecommunication companies to block access to users in Nigeria, leading users to fall to the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). It was not until January 13, 2022, that the suspension was lifted.
Other African countries that supported the 2021 UN resolution but “broke their word” were Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Somalia.
The report noted that Sudan has “broken its word” the most in Africa, with nine internet disruptions that took place after the country supported the 2021 resolution, the first one happening amid the 2021 military coup.
Burkina Faso comes in second, with four restrictions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021. The country’s 2022 restriction on Facebook is still in place today. Mauritania and Somalia both had one internet restriction since supporting the resolution. Mauritania restricted mobile internet amid a prison riot, and Somalia had an internet blackout after the parliament voted to remove the prime minister.
Speaking on this, Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark spokeswoman, said, “In today’s world, internet shutdowns have become a major concern. Authoritarian governments frequently employ them as a means to manipulate the public and stifle free speech. The UN resolution on human rights on the internet aims to make countries openly condemn these shutdowns and other ways of restricting online speech.”
“However, it’s concerning that even though 5 African countries publicly supported the resolution, they still imposed internet restrictions. It’s important to promote an open and accessible internet and pressure countries to uphold their commitments regarding human rights online,” she said.
Nine countries from other continents also “broke their word”: India, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Armenia, Indonesia, and Ukraine.
Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker reveals that there were a total of 58 internet disruptions in these 14 countries during or after the adoption of the resolution.
India stands out as the country that has “broken its word” the most, with 19 internet disruptions since the resolution’s adoption in 2021, adding that if it included the Jammu and Kashmir region, this number would be even higher.
The Human Rights Council convenes at least three regular sessions annually. The upcoming 53rd session is scheduled for the summer of 2023.
“While the agenda of the specific resolution is currently unknown, Surfshark will keep an eye out for any updates regarding upcoming UN resolutions on human rights on the internet,” the firm noted.
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