Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organisations (CEHRO), Conseil des Panafricanistes du Tchad, Digital Foundation of Namibia, Digital Human Rights Lab, Digital Shelter, Internet pour tous en Centrafrique/SPJ Labs, Internet Society Chad Chapter, Koneta Initiative and Zaina Foundation welcome over 400 delegates from 42 countries — including 32 African countries — to an amazing Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF21).
This is a particularly important forum which comes at a time when most countries are finding their digital momentum while working towards a world beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
DRIF has been hosted annually since 2013 but in 2020, COVID-19 disrupted the plan to host an in-person event.
PIN adjusted from practice, endured the reality of the COVID-19 operating environment and announced cancellation of DRIF20.
“We experienced new ways of meeting as the African continent woke up to a new dawn which placed the importance of digital rights and digital inclusion at the center stage. Education went online, health surveillance became a practice and work became remote.
“Marginalised communities in Africa have become more alienated from the world. Those who migrated online for basic amenities of life such as online learning and health consultations were virtually connected. Many have been left behind at a time when digital rights are clearly an enabler for the fulfilment of human rights. We need to deliberate on bridging the digital divide in our African countries and share insights on protecting the digital space,” said PIN’s Community Manager, Thobekile Matimbe.
Executive Director of PIN, ‘Gbenga Sesan, stated that “in many African countries, 2020 saw the introduction of new laws and practices that did not consider the digital rights of citizens.”
He continued: “To make sure that our new normal does not encourage a climate of clampdowns in the name of public safety, it is important for civil society organisations to collaborate across issue areas and countries, and this is why we are excited to work with country hosts from 12 African countries and multiple virtual event hosts to deliver the 2021 edition of the forum.”
“We are grateful to the DRIF21 sponsors, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Ford Foundation; Kingdom of the Netherlands; Omidyar Network; and the Open Society Initiative for Western Africa, for working with us to deliver our most ambitious Forum yet and are pleased to welcome all delegates, and everyone else who will watch the live broadcast of sessions, to an exciting DRIF21 experience,” said Nnenna Paul-Ugochukwu, PIN’s Chief Operating Officer.
Hosted as a hybrid event with physical events in twelve African countries and many virtual sessions, from April 12 through 30, 2021, DRIF21 brings together diverse experts to shape conversations around digital policy, digital inclusion, freedom of expression, access to information, privacy, internet access and many other thematic areas.