SLAJ President Calls for Holistic Approach to Digital Democracy in Nairobi

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By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The recently concluded conference, “Digital Threats to Democracy: Forging a Path to Responsible Digital Development,” held in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 21-22, 2024, brought together key stakeholders from Sub-Saharan Africa to address pressing digital issues. The event was organized by USAID and its partners.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), emphasized the crucial role of Governments in the discussions. “Democracy is not only about the people, civil society and the media. It is, most importantly, about Governments who are in the driving seat,” Ahmed Sahid Nasralla stated. He underscored the necessity of Government participation in conversations about digital threats to democracy.

The SLAJ President continued, “We cannot have a conversation as important as this without Government in the room. Just as the Head of Paradigm Initiative suggested that the funding models to civil society and the media to hold Governments accountable and protect and promote democracy in the continent need to change, donors must stop putting civil society and the media into the boxing ring with the Government. Democratically elected Governments have legitimacy and they will go to any length to protect it.”

Acknowledging the varied political contexts across African nations, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla noted, “One thing is common with African Governments: they have enormous powers, and they are not afraid to use that against their people if they feel their legitimacy is threatened.”

The two-day conference highlighted the digital threats to democracy, drawing from experiences across Africa and advocating for a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral approach to address these challenges. Key issues discussed included Cybersecurity Laws, Data Protection and Privacy Laws, Digital Hygiene, Digital Media Literacy, Artificial Intelligence, and the Need for Greater Transparency and Responsibility from Digital Platforms like Meta.

Within the broader framework of upholding fundamental Freedoms of Expression and the Press, the conference stressed the importance of protecting civic space and promoting democratic good governance in Africa.



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