Technologies of Freedom Enabling Democracy in Africa

In response to internet censorship by governments across the continent, Africans have turned to technologies of freedom to access blocked content online.

Over the past two decades, authoritarian governments in Africa, with more than a little help and inspiration from Chinese and Russian information control models, have tightened their grip on their national cyberspace by imposing internet censorship. The consequences of these efforts were recently exemplified this June when the Ethiopian government shut down the internet nationwide in response to massive protests following the shooting of Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a popular musician.

This is but one incident in the long list of internet disruptions and social media messaging app blockages that have occurred in Africa, usually around political events. After Asia, Africa has experienced the largest number of internet disruptions in the world. Nonetheless, my research of government internet censorship in four African countries—Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe—has uncovered that widely available technologies, creative methods of sharing technologies that circumvent censorship, and community mobilization often allow for the flow of information despite government controls.

To read this article in the Council on Foreign Relations, go to:

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