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Body tasks African govts on Internet right, freedom


imgTHE African Internet Rights Campaign, the body focusing on ensuring Internet rights through ubiquitous access on the Continent has tasked African governments, pan-African organizations and regional bodies on the need to guarantee Internet rights and freedom for their citizens.

Already, the Internet World Stat, the body that compile global Internet statistics said Africa as at 2014 was home to 1, 125, 721, 038 population with 297, 885, 898 having access to the Internet.

As such, the African Internet Rights Campaign wants governments in the various African countries to endorse and implement the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms by applying the principles outlined in the declaration in their policy and legislative processes relating to the Internet as well as by bringing their existing laws and policies into conformity with these principles.

The meeting, which resolved to launch the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms during the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) scheduled to take place before the end of the year in order to raise further awareness about the declaration with a view to ensuring its implementation throughout the continent, expressed concern about lingering challenges impeding the full enjoyment of Internet rights and freedoms in Ghana and other African countries, including the problems of inadequate access to the Internet for citizens, particularly women and other marginalized groups; the high cost of access, inadequate security and protection for Internet users online; and the absence of a legal framework for access to information by citizens.

The meeting had in attendance representatives of civil society organizations from Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda as well as international partners in the United Kingdom.

The meeting appreciated the government and people of Ghana under the leadership of President John Dramani Mahama, for the warm reception accorded the participants and, in particular, thanked the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, for accepting to receive the participants on a courtesy call, on behalf of the President of Ghana; and the Deputy Minister of Communications of Ghana, Ato Sarpong, for attending and declaring the meeting open.

The body commended the government of Ghana for the progress so far made in promoting and protecting Internet rights and freedoms as well as its commitment to global efforts to advance and defend these rights, expressed through its membership of the Freedom Online Coalition, a partnership of 25 governments working to advance Internet freedom through diplomatic efforts as well as by engaging with civil society and the private sector to support freedoms of expression, association, assembly and privacy online throughout the world.

The body urged other African governments to emulate the government of Ghana and take urgent steps to address issues in Internet governance, rights and freedoms within a multi-stakeholder framework.

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