The Experience of Internet Freedom Among African Users

Valentina Bau, Enrico Calandro


This article examines African Internet users’ experience of online freedom to assess levels of trust and mistrust of the Internet in Africa. Internet users’ perception of the protection or denial of their rights online—such as freedom of expression, privacy, and safety and security—in selected African countries is examined here as an outcome of constraining or enabling Internet policy and regulatory frameworks. Demand-side survey data collected via nationally representative ICT access and use surveys in 2017 is analyzed within the context of the Internet ecosystem as it plays out at the national level in three sub-Saharan African countries: Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa. Findings are contextualized within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing the role that the Internet plays in contributing to the growth of a country when relevant policies are formulated in a way that addresses users’ needs while safeguarding their rights.


information and communication technologies, sub-Saharan Africa, Internet policy, Internet freedom, Sustainable Development Goals

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