November 23 2023, Africa Meetup
The Africa Regional Meetups are bimonthly video calling gatherings that bring together folks from the African region to share, connect, seek help, and release stress by celebrating each other. In addition, it is a time for us to find ways to support each other, and help us understand what is happening in our part of the world. If you cannot attend the monthly meetups, we are taking notes of each gathering and linking to them below.
Date: Thursday, 23 November, 2023
Time: 5pm SAST / 6pm EAT / 10am EDT / 3pm UTC (What time is it in my city?)
Who: Facilitated by Mardiya & Tawanda
Where: Link will be shared in the Regional Africa channel on the TCU Mattermost one or two hours before the start of the meeting.
- Don't have an account to the TCU Mattermost? you can request one following the directions here.
Collectives Notes: Please put notes here: https://pad.riseup.net/p/africa-meetup
Community Check In
1. Excited to connect with the community after so long of not having meetups
2. Looking forward to completing the year, because its very busy with so many ongoing work
3. This year has been quite fulfilling despite not being able to do everything they hope for but was still good.
4. Looking forward to working more on open source tools and software.
5. More collaborations over the next year on amplifying digital rights work in Tanzania and building collaborations outside of Tanzania. Looking forward to attending the 2024 global gathering and being more involved in community engagement and partnerships
Check out :
7. Jokko is working on an App for OGBV protection, there are opportunities for collaboration between Zaina foundation and Digial Dada.
8. Honingskills/ amplify Ubunteam's work in french speaking counties with main objective to anticipate on some digital rights abuse in the west African countries. Ubunteam is largely opened to collaboration too in order to share experience and create more impact.
Conversation: 2024 is an election year for many African countries which means there might be increased digital rights/ security needs and support
1. Digital divide in Tanzania looks like online gender-based violence and high internet rates and prices which affects womens access to the internet because of varied income level.
2. Internet shutdown in Tanzania, historically, the first time was in 2020 where they predicted the shutdown and it actually happened.
3. They have a local government election in 2024, and they are also trying to predict potential shutdowns. Zaina foundation has been documenting instances of shutdowns and digital rights violations. Which was also one of the inspiration for CIPESA to host FIFAfrica to advance digital rights advocacy in Tanzania.
4. At FIFAfrica, conversations of circumvention tools happened, advicing and recommending against network disruptions. A month After the Tanzania Regulation Information Telecommunication Authority released a non-negotiable public notice banning VPNS.
5. VPNs thus far has helps digital rights defenders circumvent censorship, and the ban threatens their work when such bans happen.
6. The government is trying to find out what vpns are popular, and have asked people to register their vpn and IP addresses, to know which ones to specifically target. The government is to create a database of the VPN software people are using.
7. Other circumvention technologies havent been targetted yet so they remain hopeful for digital rights defenders to be able to bypass censorship.
8. Zaina foundation trying to anticipate a potential shutdown by conducting research, trainings and advocacy that document, train and activily conduct litagation. This is possible through various digital rights collaborations and support. Zaina foundation has a couple of initiatves such as:
- Internet shutdown fellowship: training 20 fellows on basic scenarios of internet shutdowns and helping people to by pass the scenarios. One which includes blocking social media
- Translating and localizing open source tools to Swahili, they are working with TOR team and Localization lab to translate alot of their tools to their local language given that english is a 3rd language.
- Conducting digital security trainings for journalists, where they train them to use circumvention tools but also using network measurement tools like OONI to have accurate data for litigation and advocacy.
- Multi-level advocacy: At the local level, they are working with digital coalition Tanzania to disseminate skills at the grassroot. At the regional level, net-right : working with Paradigm initiative to increase their internal capacity.
- International level: working with access now and other organizations to monitor shutdowns in Tanzania and holding ISPs accountable.
- They are trying to build partnerships with the private sector which is the most difficult, becuase they dont participate yet have more power to influence government decisions.
10. Zaina foudnation is also trying to work with the government to ammend policies that censor internet content like ones for LGBTQ communities.
11. Theres an attempt to reduce civic engagement through many ways such as increasing the number of restricted content, increasing internet subscription rates. Theres active effort to limit information flow especially during democratic decision making.
12. While using softwares to access restricted content is banned in Tanzania, digital rights workers in Tanzania are actively advocating to ammend that law by arging that using VPNs increases privacy and privacy is a right.
13. Given that the governments action specifically trying to find popular VPNs like psiphon VPN, Tanzanian digital rights defenders will need to build strong coalitions and collaborations with other open source technologists and folks in security and circumenvention to provide access to VPNs so that when Psiphon is eventually targetted, there are other resources to rely on.
14. Learning from other contexts in Africa like Liberia where they studied the capacity of the regulatory authority, and navigated the loopholes to their benefit.
15. Zaina foundation is open to collaboration with other digital rigths orgs and individuals to improve their work and preparation for next year.