LONDON — Today, the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and digital rights group NetBlocks are announcing plans for the Africa launch of the Cost of Shutdown Tool – COST, at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) 2018, set to take place 26 – 28 September, 2018, in Accra, Ghana.
The tool, developed by NetBlocks in collaboration with the Internet Society and first unveiled at RightsCon Toronto in May 2018, is aimed at automating the task of economic estimation of the impact of internet shutdowns, mobile data blackouts and social media restrictions. It draws inspiration from the new model for calculating the economic impact of shutdowns in sub-Saharan Africa launched by CIPESA last September as well as earlier research by the Brookings Institution.
“Launching the COST tool at FIFAfrica is vital to support the advocacy and documentation efforts against shutdowns on the continent,” Ashnah Kalemera, Programme Manager, CIPESA, said.
“We hope that the economic loss proven by the tool will support litigation efforts as well strengthen pushbacks which will include the private sector”, she added.
CIPESA and NetBlocks will move forward as official partners. Both organisations are part of the #KeepItOn coalition against internet shutdowns, and support fast, reliable and open access to the Internet and knowledge online as a tenet of democracy, freedom of speech and economic prosperity.
“We are ecstatic to be partnering with CIPESA, one of the leading research and policy think-tanks in the region. Their expertise will ensure our work on Africa is accurate and up-to-date”, Hannah Machlin, Global Advocacy Manager, NetBlocks said.
Their collaboration will provide access to new network measurement techniques that can detect telecommunications blackouts and emerging threats to internet freedom in real-time, aiding the development of sustainable rights-based ICT policies.
CIPESA was established in 2004 under the Catalysing Access to Information and Communications Technology in Africa (CATIA) initiative, which was mainly funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). CIPESA works to enable policy makers in the region to understand ICT policy issues, and for various stakeholders to use ICT to improve governance and livelihoods. They currently approach their work through four different but interrelated thematic areas, namely promoting online freedom, ICT for democracy and civic participation, the right to information, and contributing to internet governance debate at national, regional and global level.
The NetBlocks Group is a civil society initiative building new techniques for network measurement that support freedom of expression and digital transparency, defending access to free and open technology and working on the security and privacy of core internet standards at groups including the Internet Engineering Task Force.