Francophone Africa falls behind on digital freedom
Digital authoritarianism is rising in Francophone African countries, stifling freedom of expression and access to information online, a new study reveals.
The study on Digital Freedoms in French-speaking African Countries produced by Agence Française de Développement, say several countries have implemented repressive practices restricting freedom of expression and access to information.
The report takes stock of digital freedoms in 26 French-speaking African countries, and proposes concrete actions to improve citizen participation and democracy.
It says several countries are faltering in promoting digital freedoms as stipulated by a 216 UN Human Rights Council resolution which considers internet access a fundamental global right.
Such rights include the freedom to inform and communicate online without being monitored or censored, the right to privacy and the liberty to control the software on electronic devices.
From the 26 Francophone African countries, seven countries, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, and Rwanda were rated non-free, with scores less than 30 points on 100.
The report implies digital freedoms in these countries are lacking.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Congo and Togo were rated partially non-free, with scores ranging between 31 and 55 points.
Francophone African countries with pass marks above 56 points include Benin, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles and Tunisia.
Also, the study says internet shutdowns during elections, demonstrations, the absence of organisations defending digital freedoms and the systematic deployment of mass or targeted surveillance solutions such as the use of Pegasus spyware in Rwanda, Togo, Morocco and Djibouti, were some of the tactics used by governments to infringe on freedoms.