Yaounde hosted, from November 8 to 9, 2023, an international forum initiated by the National Communication Council (NCC). At the end of the forum, a declaration calling for a concerted approach to regulating social network content was signed. In his opening address, NCC president Joseph Chebonkeng Kalabubsu expressed the need for countries to agree on common regulatory strategies given that the impacts of social media on societies are common issues that can only be resolved through a comprehensive strategy.
According to Latifa Akharbach, head of the African Communication Regulation Authorities Network (ACRAN) and Morocco’s High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA), the global media environment, and African media particularly, offers numerous opportunities when it comes to freedom of expression and access to information and knowledge. However, that environment can be prone to abuse. Therefore, regulators need to discuss with digital platforms to build an "open, transparent, pluralist and ethical" digital space conducive to the emergence of good public order, she added.
In that context, the Yaounde Declaration could mark a step towards the establishment of an African collaborative platform to find solutions for the regulation of social networks, taking into account the specific context and realities of the continent. The signatories agreed to "Enhance consultations and monitoring activities to establish a framework for continuous interaction between ACRAN and digital platforms."
Recognizing the numerous risks associated with the globalized digital landscape, they additionally committed to advancing best practices in the regulation of social network content. This commitment involves adherence to both national and international regulations, prioritizing freedom of expression, the promotion of human rights, and the safeguarding of human dignity as fundamental values. Formulated within the framework of ACRAN's action plan, the International Forum on the Regulation of Social Networks convened leaders from African media regulatory authorities, representatives of digital platforms, promoters, and audiovisual media professionals, as well as civil society associations from 20 African countries.
The objective of the Yaoundé meeting was to conduct a comprehensive assessment of social networks and formulate effective solutions for controlling harmful content. This involved a collaborative approach, bringing together media regulators from Africa and the French-speaking world on one side and representatives of digital platforms on the other.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem