The study on Civil society in the digital age in Africa: identifying threats and mounting pushbacks was undertaken by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretroia and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) to explore the extent of state-sponsored digital challenges that the civil society in Africa is faced with. It illustrates the challenges faced by civil society organisations and the importance of digital security measures.
Considering the digital threats contributing to the shrinking civic space on the continent, the study highlights the international and regional framework governing the activities of civil society. It further maps the national legislative and policy threats against civil society in selected African countries: Egypt, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia. The study shows how these digital threats not only limit the operations and existence of civic society but also impede the enjoyment of human rights such as the freedoms of association, assembly and the right to freedom of expression.
Based on the findings of the study, it is argued that civil society organisations are significant players in the democratic development and protection and promotion of human rights and thus, their operations and rights should be safeguarded. The study, therefore, calls on African governments to respect their obligations under international human rights law and adopt measures that enable civil society to perform their mandate in promoting good governance, accountability and respect of human rights on the continent, especially in the context of the digital age. The study also recommends the civil society to devise methods of countering digital threats. This could be done through the development and implementation of human rights-sensitive organisational data protection, digital security policies and enhanced organisational understanding of how they can harness digital technologies for digital security purposes. Further, the study encourages the private sector and funders to support and complement the efforts by the civil society in advancing digital rights and opening up the civic space.
Civil society in the digital age in Africa: identifying threats and mounting pushbacks