Today, 10 December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which is commemorated globally as the International Human Rights Day. The theme this year is freedom, equality and justice for all. As KICTANet we recognise the critical role of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in achieving this vision in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.
As we commemorate the International Human Rights Day, KICTANet stands as a steadfast guardian of the human rights principles that define our collective humanity in the digital age. Our commitment to freedom, equality, and justice for all remains resolute. Today serves not just as a milestone but as a compelling reminder of the enduring imperative to champion these fundamental principles.
In Kenya, ICTs have demonstrated immense potential to empower both individuals and communities to access information, exercise and enjoy their rights, connect and collaborate, and promote social justice. ICTs continue to power the delivery of government services and support the growth of the digital economy buttressed by growing access to the internet and digital devices. For example, there are at least 66 million mobile SIM subscriptions, 47.9 million mobile data subscriptions, 32.1 million mobile broadband subscriptions, 32.1 million feature phones and 30.7 million smartphones.
Nonetheless, we acknowledge the significant challenges that threaten freedom, equality, and justice for all. In Kenya, some of these challenges include violations of privacy rights, digital surveillance, disinformation, hate speech, online gender-based violence, cyber crimes, repressive laws, digital inequalities, and growing divides in access, skills and knowledge.
KICTANet remains committed to realise its mission of promoting an enabling environment in the ICT sector that is robust, open, accessible, and rights-based through multistakeholderism. This mission gives us the impetus to work towards realising a digital future where freedom, equality and justice for all prevail.
KICTANet will continue its policy advocacy, capacity building, research, and stakeholder engagement. This includes fostering synergies through collaborative efforts with all relevant stakeholders such as industry players, the technical community, academia, media, development partners, and the government.
Further, KICTANet will continue to champion digital rights, promote equality and gender empowerment, digital accessibility and inclusivity, cyber hygiene awareness, digital skilling, media information literacy, multi-stakeholder engagement and participatory governance processes.
We also call upon all relevant stakeholders to unite in their shared responsibilities as netizens based on their roles to play their part in promoting freedom, equality and justice for all. In particular, to champion laws and policies that guarantee internet freedom; promote media information literacy and critical thinking skills; engage in constructive multistakeholder dialogue; invest in robust privacy and data protection; promote cyber hygiene awareness; address the growing digital divide; promote inclusivity and equitable digital spaces especially for persons with disabilities and marginalised groups; and work towards combating online hate speech, disinformation and gender-based violence.
Together, let us forge a future where the digital landscape is not just a reflection, but is also a resounding embodiment of the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all. A place where digital rights are not mere privileges or aspirations but are the sacred threads of our shared humanity embodied in our lived realities.