The African Digital Rights Network brings together activists, researchers, journalists, and policymakers working on digital rights in Africa.
Network members share a commitment to opening online democratic space and to enabling citizens to freely exercise their digital rights including the rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and speech.
Together network members produce evidence, raise awareness, and build capacity to enable African citizens to better monitor, analyse, and overcome the tools and tactics being used to close civic space and diminish digital rights in their countries.
Our initial country reports identified a wide range of citizen use of digital technologies to open up new civic space online in order to exercise their rights to opinion and expression. The reports also identified an even larger range of tech tools and tactics being deployed by governments and corporations to close down online civic space. These digital openings and closing are illustrated below.
Reading across the ten Digital Rights Country Reports one pattern that emerges is that every new generation of technology used by activists to enable freedom of expression is met by multipe government tactics to deny citizens their digital rights. This happened with SMS activism, blogging, social media and even with privacy and anonymisation tools. The dynamic resembles one where repressive governments play whack-a-mole with citizens digital rights.
Citizen-led campaigns like #RhodesMustFall in South Africa, #ENDSARS in Nigeria, and #FreeBobiWine in Uganda opened online space and put neglected issues on the national and international agendas. Repressive governments have invested heavily in digital surveillance, disinformation and internet disruption technologies to deter dissent and dampen online democracy. This contestation of digital space is unequal. For every new technology used by citizens to open democratic space online there seem to be three or four new repressive tools or tactics deployed by the state or other powerful groups.
The African Digital Rights network has published ten Digital Rights Landscape Reports by authors from
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Sudan,
South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia,
Egypt, and Cameroon.
For more information on membership, research collaborations, or media enquiries contact us.
the African Digital Rights Network gratefully acknowledges financial support from