I have been researching African Internet policy since 2014. Combining legal and international relations approaches, my goal is to try to bring increased Western attention to African perspectives on Internet issues, not just how such laws affect Western interests. As part of this research, I attended the 2015 African Internet Governance Forum (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and the 2016 Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (Kampala, Uganda).
See below for:
- Information about my forthcoming book
- Blog posts on African cyber politics
- African colleagues to contact
I am working on a forthcoming book about African cyber politics, titled Weapons of the Weak: Cyber Politics and Africa’s Quest for Autonomy. This book tracks the development of the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Data Protection, and analyzes emerging African Internet laws in the context of global politics.
This book’s title is inspired by James Scott’s Malaysian Cold War study, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. His work grew out of frustration that Malaysian resistance was only recognized if it conformed to means of resistance recognized by the powerful: revolutions and rebellions. Instead, he argued that actions falling below this threshold—disobedience, false compliance, sabotage—“are often the most significant and the most effective over the long run.” The book similarly uses the term weak to reclaim and elevate the strategies deployed by weak states in international relations to a place of deserved consideration, analysis, and recognition as strategic statecraft.
Disinformation Colonialism and African Internet Policy
Russia’s recent disinformation campaign in African countries highlights the challenges that African states face in crafting internet policy that is responsive to both external threats and internal political dynamics. African countries will likely not push back against Russian disinformation campaigns, but rather will try to exploit the campaigns for their own international and domestic political goals.
African Union Bugged by China: Cyber Espionage as Evidence of Strategic Shifts
A number of African leaders have turned to Chinese investment as a viable alternative to Western development aid. The recent allegations of Chinese cyberespionage of the African Union’s headquarters might prompt them to reconsider.
South Africa Introduces Revised Cybercrime Legislation, Acknowledging Criticism
South Africa’s legislation models a “third way” of approaching cybercrime. South Africa’s government recognizes the importance of legal harmonization, making important adjustments to domestic cybercrime law, while still formally avoiding multilateral institutions that could impinge on its sovereignty.
Africans Want Cross-Border Data Access Reform, But They Might Get Left Out
Countries left out of the MLAT reform movement will have few viable options for accessing data and may turn to damaging alternatives.
Cyber Diplomacy with Africa: Lessons From the African Cybersecurity Convention
Despite currently limited uptake, the Convention, and how the AU produced it, signals that African states value political autonomy and independence when developing cyber policy.
The African Internet Governance Forum: Continued Discomfort with Multistakeholderism
The 2015 African IGF saw increased participation by high-level African government officials. But the government representatives were still hesitant to support the IGF’s guiding concept, multistakeholder governance.
The African Union Cybersecurity Convention: A Missed Human Rights Opportunity
with Fadzai Madzingira
Serious concerns remain about the Convention’s human rights implications, particularly about provisions that might support discrimination and expand government power.
The following colleagues are experts on African Internet policy and have given permission to be listed here as points of contact. Thank you to them!
Babatunde (Tunde) Okunoye, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria
(babatunde [dot] okunoye [at] paradigmhq [dot] org)