On December 14 and 15, 2018, re:publica – Europe’s largest internet and digital society conference – took place in Ghana for the first time. At the two-day digital festival, which was organized with the Impact Hub Accra and supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as its main partner, over 2,000 international participants came together in Accra to discuss questions such as net neutrality, data protection, civil rights, and other digital and societal issues under the motto "Next level."
A total of 274 speakers came from throughout Afrika and other parts of the world.
"It was great to be at re:publica Accra and to see so many leaders of various social and digital rights movements on the continent - and indeed from around the world.“, said Nanjala Nyabola. „I got a chance to share some of the ideas from my research with people from all over the world in a very open and warm atmosphere which I'm truly grateful for," said Nanjala Nyabola, author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Politics in Kenya.
Tech for good
At re:publica Accra, the main partner, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), also announced the extension of the regional program "Make-IT" in Ghana. The program is a joint initiative of BMZ, companies, associations and social enterprises to improve the local framework conditions for technology start-ups in order to open up growth and employment potential for entrepreneurs in the digital sector of partner countries.
"The first edition of the re:publica on African soil was an absolute success. In Accra many new ideas were born and connections made between people who want to create digital solutions for Africa. Now it's time to implement the ideas. We are supporting this with a new digital center in Ghana, which will become a meeting place for start-ups, researchers and governments," said Gerd Müller, German Development Minister (BMZ).
The 110-hour program of the festival in Accra was rounded out by art performances, exhibitions, journalism workshops, film screenings, yoga classes and live music - including rap-matador M.anifest and his band.
Also present at re:publica Accra was iAfrikan's Tefo Mohapi who delivered a keynote address titled "Freedom of Speech - Terms & Conditions Apply" during which he looked at the history of freedom of speech on the Internet in Afrika as well as addressing current issues and how we need to approach them.
The first re:publica event on Afrikan soil was such a success that, at the closing ceremony, the organizers announced that there will be a re:publica Accra 2019
"The 21st century is African and digital society is global, so we all need to get onto the same level discourse and discuss eye-to-eye. With re:publica, we provide the right platform. One thing is clear: Accra has been a great success, and now let's all look forward to re:publica 19 in May in Berlin!" said Andreas Gebhard, Managing Director and co-founder of re:publica GmbH.
"What a finale for the year 2018! re:publica marks a new chapter with its first event on the African continent," said Gebhard.
Cover image credit: re:publica Accra 18 – Day 2. Nana Afriyie