Digital dictatorship versus digital democracy in Africa

Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine (C) is joined by activists in Kampala on 11 July 2018 to protest a controversial tax on the use of social media. Image: Getty, Isaac Kasamani/AFP

Just how did digital technologies go from empowering citizens and toppling dictators to being used as tools of oppression and discord?

Summary:

  • The intersection of technology, politics and governance is reshaping the nature of political engagement both globally and in Africa.
  • Internet shutdowns have been employed with increasing frequency by African governments in the face of political threats and protest.
  • Draconian legislative measures have also been used in countries such as Tanzania to close the political space for expression and suppress dissent.
  • The impact of such actions extends beyond the political domain and has far reaching societal consequences.
  • A co-ordinated, multi-stakeholder approach is needed to stifle these anti-democratic trends, which threaten to adversely affect citizen engagement, political participation and the quality of governance on the continent if left unchecked.
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