Past Event

Defending online civic spaces – lessons from Africa

1 March 2022 14:00–15:00

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New digital technologies have enabled the opening and closing of online civic spaces – places that people can organise and demand accountability and action.

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Social movements such as #EndSARS, #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter have shown the power that new digital tools and social media can have in opening online spaces for mobilising citizen action. But tactics such as internet shutdowns and surveillance have proven that new digital technologies are equally being used to close down online civic spaces and silence dissent.

Join our panel of speakers to hear about closing online civic space from research and experience across several countries in Africa, and to discuss the outlook for online civic spaces in the wider current political and technological contexts.


Natalie Donback, Associate Editor and Reporter at Devex, which hosts the Generation Why? series on youth, rights and responsibilities in the digital age


  • Tony Roberts, Research Fellow in the Digital and Technology cluster, Institute of Development Studies.
  • Atnaf Brhane, Lead for the Centre for the Advancement of Rights and Development (CARD Ethiopia)
  • Abrar Mohamed Ali, Advocate for digital rights and opening civic space
  • Grace Githaiga, Convenor of the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Tony, Atnaf and Abrar are all members of the African Digital Rights Network (ADRN) – a network of 32 researchers, journalists, activists and lawyers who conduct research on digital surveillance and digital disinformation in a number of African countries.

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