Following Africa’s Lead: Opportunities and Threats of the Mobile Internet Revolution



Rebecca MacKinnon, Committee to Protect Journalists
Erik Charas, @Verdade, largest circulation Mozambique newspaper
Rafael Marques de Morais, MakaAngola
Mohamed Keita, Committee to Protect Journalists

Date and Time

October 11, 2012 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM October 10.


History Corner Bldg 200 Room 200-002

FSI Contact

Kathleen Barcos



The mobile Internet — accessed through smartphones, tablets, and 4G technology — is now set to overtake the wired Net in usage and users. The implications of this shift are most obvious in Africa, where journalists have seized on mobile-driven innovations to transform newsgathering. But mobile networks also give repressive governments unprecedented powers to identify, locate, and harass journalists, their sources, and their audiences. The Committee to Protect Journalists invited a group of pioneering African journalists and entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley in October to talk about their work at the forefront of the media revolution. The group worked with executives and technologists from leading media and technology companies to find practical ways to protect free speech and privacy online. This panel will discuss their conclusions.

Erik Charas is an engineer, social entrepreneur, and founder of @Verdade, the largest-circulation newspaper in Mozambique. Hailing from northern Mozambique, Erik is passionate about his responsibility to work for his country. The inspiration to create @Verdade came from the realization that most people in Mozambique lacked access to quality information. He believes informing people about their government, country and the world is the first step toward engaging them as active participants in transforming the country. He is one of the most vocal advocates of anti-poverty activism in Africa today.Erik is also founder and CEO of Charas LDA, a company that invests in Mozambican entrepreneurs. Erik was voted a Hero of Africa in 2005 by media group MSN, named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2006, and served as an Archbishop Tutu African Leadership Initiative Fellow in 2007. He chairs several boards of companies and non-profit organizations in Mozambique and other countries. He has an engineering degree from the University of Cape Town. Follow him on Twitter @echaras.

Rafael Marques de Morais is an award-winning journalist, human rights activist, and founder of the anti-corruption watchdog website MakaAngola. The site is named for ‘maka,’ a Kimbundu world meaning "problem" or "trouble." Rafael’s writings on political economy, the diamond industry, and government corruption have earned him international acclaim, and have set the agenda for political debate in Angola by exposing the abuse of power. His most recent book, "Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola," published in September 2011, exposed hundreds of cases of torture and killings. Research for the book formed the basis of a criminal complaint Rafael filed against the shareholders of three private Angolan diamond mining companies for crimes against humanity. He now faces retaliatory legal action as company shareholders, including some of the country’s most influential generals, have countersued him in Portugal. Rafael was imprisoned for his work in 1999, and released after international advocacy efforts on his behalf. He was then charged with defaming the president and spent years in costly legal battles. His case was eventually taken up by the UN Human Rights Committee, which delivered a precedent-setting ruling in 2005 that Angola had violated the journalist’s fundamental rights. Born in Luanda, Rafael holds an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford and a BA Hons in Anthropology and Media from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Mohamed Keita is the Africa advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international press freedom advocacy organization based in New York. Mohamed has written extensively on press freedom and social media for publications including The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Slate Afrique. He is regularly interviewed by international media including Al Jazeera, BBC, NPR, and Radio France Internationale. A native of Bamako, Mali, Mohamed also lived in Senegal before moving to New York. Prior to joining CPJ, Mohamed volunteered as a researcher with the nongovernmental World Federalist Movement-Institute of Global Policy, where he was responsible for a project on the structures and mechanisms of the African Union and helped organize outreach activities in West Africa for a project on the UN's "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine. Mohamed is a graduate of the City College of New York. Follow him on Twitter @africamedia_CPJ

Rebecca MacKinnon is a journalist and activist whose work focuses on the intersection of the Internet, human rights, and foreign policy. She serves on the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Global Network Initiative. As a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, she is developing new projects focused on holding technology companies accountable to universally recognized human rights standards on free expression and privacy. Her first book, Consent of the Networked, was published in January 2012 by Basic Books. In 2012 she was named Hearst Professional-in-residence by Columbia Journalism School and listed by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of “40 women who changed the media business in the past 40 years,” primarily due to her role as cofounder of Global Voices Online ( an international citizen media network. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, MacKinnon worked as a journalist for CNN in China for nine years, including as CNN’s Beijing Bureau Chief and Correspondent from 1998-2001. MacKinnon received her AB magna cum laude from Harvard University and was a Fullbright scholar in Taiwan in 1991-92. Follow her on Twitter @rmack.

This seminar is being co-sponsored by the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships and in collaboration with the Committee to Protect Journalists 

Reception to follow in Mendenhall Library, McClatchy Hall, Bldg 120

Share this Event