Harnessing Digital Power: ECOSOCC Citizens’ Forum shapes the future of democracy and digital governance in Africa; urges civil society to tap into the potential of digital tech


Africa’s Civil Society Organisations have been urged to take advantage of the potential of digital technologies to achieve continental aspirations and goals, and in particular, democracy.

Officially opening the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)’s 2nd Annual Citizens Forum, Kenya’s State Department for Information, Communications and Technology and Digital Economy, Principal Secretary, Eng. John Tanui said digital governance could promote citizen engagement, enabling them to participate effectively in decision-making processes that impact their lives.

The highly anticipated Second Edition of the annual Citizens' Forum themed 'Democracy and Digital Governance in Africa,' held from July 10th to July 11th, 2023, was a defining moment in the continent's quest to achieve democracy and digital governance. The forum took place on the side-lines of the 5th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (MYCM) of the Assembly of the African Union.

The forum cultivated a collaborative and inclusive environment, providing a platform for substantive and thought-provoking discussions on the multifaceted aspects of democracy and digital governance in the African context. Specifically, it provided an unparalleled avenue for African CSOs and other stakeholders to lend their voices and expertise to the dialogue on democracy and digital governance in Africa. By embracing holistic participation from diverse stakeholders, the forum not only reinforced its significance, but also nurtured a multi-dimensional dialogue that embodied the values of inclusivity and collaboration.

At the core of the forum's ambitions lay the primary objective of promoting citizen engagement within the overarching continental discourse on the nexus between democracy and digital governance. It achieved this by employing a multifaceted approach that entailed an in-depth examination of the issues as well as the identification of existing continental and international frameworks designed to improve democracy and digital governance. By providing this inclusive space, the forum empowered civil society representatives to assert their voices and articulate their perspectives and concerns. This, in turn, enabled a critical analysis of the intricate challenges, opportunities, and dynamics inherent in the realms of democracy and digital governance. As such, the discussions covered a wide range of topics, including misinformation, propaganda, illicit financial flows, trade and digital governance, bridging the digital divide, youth participation in shaping digital democracy, privacy and security, as well as digital literacy.

ECOSOCC’s Citizens’ Forum is designed to provide a unique opportunity for African civil society to pronounce itself on the ongoing and pressing issues in Africa that threaten democracy and citizen participation.

The Forum’s participation was drawn from CSOs from all six regions of the continent (including the diaspora) working in relevant fields including youth and women's groups, advocacy groups, community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, and faith-based organisations; esteemed figures from various sectors, including officials from the AUC, AU member states, UN agencies, development partner institutions, media representatives and academia.

A policy statement and a civil society program of action will be issued and circulated to all AU member states.