African countries may miss out on the Fourth Industrial Revolution if their governments continue to violate digital rights and fail to take advantage of opportunities brought by online spaces, a new report shows.
The conclusion was reached during the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum 2022, which was organized by Paradigm Initiative and a host of country partners across 17 African countries from April 12th to May 20th. The forum concluded in Kenya with the launch of PIN’s 2021 Annual Digital Rights and Inclusion Report – Londa.
Londa 2021 expands on last year’s report with findings from 22 countries, examining themes of privacy, freedom of expression, access to information, segmentation and exclusion, digital transformation, affordability, gender, and others within existing legislative frameworks, and against the backdrop of a widening digital divide. This year’s edition captured the gaps and proffers recommendations to achieve a digitally inclusive and rights-respecting Africa.
Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative’s Executive Director highlighted the importance of Londa in Africa and need for groundbreaking rights-respecting frameworks saying “Africa needs to make an urgent choice between focusing on clampdowns and maximising digital opportunities so we don’t miss out on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). As Paradigm Initiative’s 2021 Londa report shows, yet again, many of the 22 African countries featured in the report are too busy violating digital rights to focus on the digital opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on their relevance. The report is timely as it assesses the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa, and also provides recommendations on what each country must do to move towards realising the huge gains that rights-respecting and inclusive digital policies and practices bring.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.
The Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum brought together over 800 delegates and participants for 39 days to dissect the state of digital rights and inclusion in Africa in 18 virtual sessions and 16 in-person sessions and was attended by experts, stakeholders, and advocates within the digital rights ecosystem in Africa to deconstruct and demystify digital rights and inclusion, sharing recommendations for a proper digital rights implementation within Africa.