2nd Freedom Online Coalition Conference to be held in Kenya

Kenya has finalised on plans to host the 2nd Freedom Online Coalition Conference scheduled for September 6 and 7 at the United Nations Complex in the capital Nairobi.

Speaking ahead of the event, Kenya’s Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said: “Kenya is a leader in ICT development in the region and across Africa. Embracing an open and free Internet has been a key condition in developing our ICT sector. It is also an important basis for realising the ambitions of Kenya in terms of ICT leadership in the context of the Kenya Vision 2030.”

Commenting on the same, the Netherlands Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Joost Reintjes said: “Technology can be a double-edged sword; some governments unfortunately abuse it to censor and monitor their citizens.”

This will be the first time the event is held in Africa. The inaugural event was held in Hague, Netherlands late last year.

The event will provide a platform for over 300 delegates from across the globe to discuss among other things, the freedom of expression and entrepreneurship, as well as an excellent opportunity to further the agenda of the coalition, which seeks to see freedom of expression over the Internet and privacy of user information online guaranteed, through formulation of policies.

Only two countries in Africa, Kenya and Ghana, are members of the coalition, and it is a great opportunity for Kenya to offer leadership in Africa on related policy debates.

The coalition, which draws its membership from countries that subscribe to the ideology that keeping the internet open and free is a worldwide endeavor, which requires worldwide efforts, currently has 17 member countries interested in advancing the cause for Internet freedom to enable the exercise of human rights as a critical foreign policy agenda to further development.

One of the main goals for this year’s event will be to debate on how countries in the world can develop relevant legal frameworks and policies including standards of freedom of expression online, something that many African nations are either still starting to develop interest in, or are yet to get involved.

This comes a few months after the Kenyan government announced that it will monitor Internet activities for its citizens, in a bid to curb abuse of the Internet ahead of the country’s general elections set for March 2013.

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