Sunday Jerome Salami, Nigerian blogger and researcher, is the winner of the first prize in the #D4Dblogging competition, which was organised by the AU-EU Digital for Development (D4D) Hub project.
The purpose of the activity was to foster debate and to gather original views on how Africa and Europe can jointly tackle online disinformation through human rights-based actions. A total of 89 entries from 27 countries were received through an open call for submissions. 60 per cent of participants were under 30 years old.
Salami is a Master’s student at the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He is currently on an exchange semester at the Central European University in Vienna.
The 26-year-old student runs a personal blog where he regularly writes at the intersection of his passion areas, including poverty alleviation, good governance, quality education, and sustainable development. His writings have also been published in Nigerian outlets The Metric and The Mail and Guardian.
His winning blog “How can Africa and Europe work together to tackle disinformation and protect human rights in the digital age?” makes a comparison of both African and European approaches to tackling this issue, finding potential convergence points that protect digital rights. For example, he proposes including online media literacy in the school curricula and empowering grassroots organisations.
The second place goes to South Sudanese journalist Garang Abraham Malak
The second finalist of the competition was South Sudanese multimedia journalist, blogger, media trainer, and fact-checker Garang Abraham Malak.
Malak, whose writings have appeared on South Sudanese and international outlets such as Eye Radio, Nation Media Group, and the BBC, is a regular blogger about politics, human rights and governance, justice, conflict, security, and the environment.
His blog “To win the war on disinformation, Africa and Europe need long-term strategic partnerships” builds on his own experience tackling disinformation as a researcher and media professional. The 28-year-old blogger is the co-author of a best practice manual called “Hate Speech and Misinformation Guide for the Media” which provides South Sudanese media with practical guidance on how to deal with hate speech, misinformation, and online incitement to violence.
He provides many concrete recommendations on how to advance Africa-Europe cooperation in this field. For instance, he proposes creating a joint awareness-raising campaign with committed influencers, building the capacity of alternative media and fact-checking organisations, and creating bridges between civil society organisations on both continents.
Kenyan lawyer Lilian Olivia Orero wins third place
Finally, 27-year-old international human rights lawyer and researcher Lilian Olivia Orero was recognised in the third place. Native from Kenya, Orero has a strong interest in data governance, gender equality, and digital rights – issues about which she regularly writes.
Her entry “Balancing the protection of fundamental rights in the fight against disinformation” brings a human rights perspective on how legislation to tackle disinformation could curtail people’s freedom of speech, open internet, and digital rights. According to Orero, the key to striking the right balance is to promote collaborations between civil society organisations and the media.
Fostering an open debate on disinformation
“Digitalisation offers enormous opportunities to promote sustainable development in our societies, but it also poses new challenges such as the spread of online disinformation, which threatens our democracies and puts people at risk,” said Carla Montesi, Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA), during the announcement of the competition results.
“This is why through the AU-EU D4D Hub, we are supporting a much-needed conversation with our African partners on how we can work together to tackle this issue, while at the same time avoiding measures that violate human rights – such as Internet shutdowns, online censorship, or increased surveillance. We were delighted to receive so many concrete ideas through this blogging competition, and we look forward to continuing the debate,” she added.
The three blogs will be published by the AU-EU D4D Hub in the lead-up to the Town Hall session “Jointly tackling disinformation and promoting human rights”, which will be held on 2 December at the Internet Governance Forum 2022 (hybrid event).