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Event wrap - 2020 Freedom Online Conference in Accra, Ghana

annual freedom online conf

The annual Freedom Online Conference, the flagship event of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), took place in Accra, Ghana, from 6 to 7 February. The event brought together stakeholders from around the world to discuss issues relating to human rights-based internet. The Freedom Online Conference provided participants, including those from AFRINIC, the opportunity to meet with government officials and discuss issues of common interest. Especially important was the utilisation of the Internet and AFRINIC's role in the advancement of human rights in Africa.

We met with dignitaries from various governments and discussed their participation in future AFRINIC Government Working Group (AfGWG) meetings.
The event was graced by Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), the Minister for Communications of Ghana. She talked about the current situation of cybersecurity in Ghana. Ghana is one of the five African countries which has ratified the Malabo Convention.


freedom online

Brice Abba, the Community Development Manager at AFRINIC, with Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, the Ghana National Cybersecurity Advisor

Below are some of the panels and discussions of interest to AFRINIC.

Topic: Regional Trends - Spotlight on digital inclusion


  • Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako
  • Anri Van Der Spuy
  • Gbenga Sesan
  • Andrew Puddephatt

According to the ICT Development Index (IDI), nearly all countries in the world saw improvements in their ICT technologies. However, there are huge gaps between the the most and least development countries. This is especially worrying because ISPs and other internet providers are unwilling to invest in rural areas with low returns. Accordingly, government have to invest in such areas to ensure equality in terms of access to the Internet. Corruption was also cited as one of the major barriers to Internet access across Africa.


Topic: Internet Shutdown: "A think and Do" discussion on multistakeholder responses


  • Berhan Taye
  • Lisa Vermeer
  • Chanan Weissman

The panellists shared statistics from countries where Internet shutdown had happened. They also shared knowledge on tools or mechanism that can be used to measure Internet shutdown. They discussed reasons behind Internet shutdowns, focusing majorly on national security argument. They, however, noted that national security is often misused to shutdown the Internet. The panellists cited political reasons as being behind Internet shutdowns.


Topic: Social Media, conflict and offline violence


  • Befekadu Haile Techane
  • Rodriguez Katsuva

The impact of fake news on everyday life experiences was discussed. The panellists also discussed how the Internet can be used to perpetuate hate speech and violence

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