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African governments are keen to participate in Internet Governance

afrisig multistakeholder panelThe fifth African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF), which AFRINIC was one of the sponsors took place in Durban, South Africa from 16 to 18 October 2016. The meeting was hosted by the Government of South Africa and the African Union Commission, bringing together Ministers from the Continent, Policy & Regulatory Heads, Civil Society, Business Community and other important stakeholders.

The AfIGF aims to be a platform for inclusive, multilateral, multi-stakeholder and multilingual discussion on issues pertinent to the Internet in Africa. The themes for this year’s AfIGF was inclusive development and the digital transformation of Africa.

In the opening ceremony, Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa said that the global community has been advocating for the internet to be open, technology neutral, resilient, interoperable and responsive to growth needs for all. He said that the African continent must pay attention to infrastructure access, affordability and skilling for all citizen to take advantage of the internet economy value chain.

There was a big participation from the youth who a week earlier had attended the fourth African School on Internet Governance (AFRISIG). The youth gave a statement on Internet shutdowns, recognizing the role of governments in maintaining state security, but also demonstrating how the shutdowns affect the social and economical activities of citizens. 

Mr. Lucky Masilela, Manager, dot Africa project, who is also a Board Member at AFRINIC, stated that one of the applicant for the New Generic Top Level Domain (ngTLD) program challenged the application process for the dot Africa new geographic top level domain. The challenge has been in the US courts for the past 8 months. He said that any delay in the dot Africa delegation means the continent is being deprives from participating in the digital economy.

Mr. Alan Barrett, the CEO of Africa Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) urged Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy IPv6 to their end users because IPv4 is at end of life. He said that all regions of the world apart from Africa have exhausted their IPv4 blocks. He also said Africa needs to implement Internet Exchange points to exchange traffic within the continent, and keep local traffic local, thus reducing data transit cost.

Mr. Moctar Yedaly, Head Information Society Division, at AUC said that The African Union draft Declaration on Internet Governance will be submitted to the AU policy organs for consideration and adoption.

The key recommendations that came from the AfIGF as African countries embark on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was that Internet Governance must be embraced as; a social development tool for community transformation; a facilitator for pro-economic policies; and a key domain for facilitating multi-stakeholders consensus and communication.

Other recommendations were that African member states should ratify the AU Convention on Cyber security, and implement Access to Information laws, data protection and privacy laws and cybercrime laws. Other recommendations were;

  • That governments and other stakeholders should focus and emphasis on how marginalized communities can participate in the Information Society and Knowledge economy.

  • That regulatory bodies should promote affordability of the internet to the people in Africa through subsidizing broadband to academic institutions, reduction of operational costs for internet service providers and levying taxes on internet enabled devices.

  • Develop a policy framework and strategy for promoting local content development and consumption.

  • That Education ministries and civil society should initiate educational programs at community level and in local languages that would provide users with more information on the internet. At the same time, civil society should also educate government leaders and politicians about the political and economic costs of internet censorship.

  • That all stakeholders should advocate for cybersecurity legislation and urge responsible use of encryption services

  • That Organizations and Governments are encouraged to migrate to IP6, implement IXP, and host local content to reduce the cost of access to the internet. Regulators should review current regulations taking into account the new challenges of migration process to IPV6.

  • That Government must involve young people when creating policy for young people and children. Governments need to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship in the education system

  • That Governments should promote national IG forums as key platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and maintain an ongoing communication with citizens. Government should respect multi stakeholder approach in implementing national IGFs.

  • That recommendations of the various IGFs should be taken into consideration by governments, and sub-regional and regional organizations’ future actions and plans.

The AFRINIC Head of External Relations/ Acting Head of Communication & Public Relations Ms. Vymala Thuron interacted with delegates, and AFRINIC partners, working round the clock as the ultimate ambassador for the organization, disseminating the role of AFRINIC in the Internet Governance landscape in Africa.

The fourth African Internet Governance School (AFRISIG).

Earlier in the week, from 20th to 15th October, AFRINIC had participate in the fourth African School on Internet Governance which was organized by Association for Progressive Communication (APC) in conjunction with AU’s New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The School was held for five days at the historical Daikonia center, in downtown Durban.

AFRINIC was well represented with the CEO Alan Barrett participating as a panelist in the session on Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance: achievements, strengths and weaknesses. The session sought answers to questions like; what is multi-stakeholderism and who are the internet’s stakeholders? What are the powers, inclusion and exclusion in decision-making that impact the internet. What is a multi-stakeholder model? What are the opportunities and challenges of the multi- stakeholder model? What is the status of internet governance in Africa in terms of participation, transparency and accountability? The continent was challenged to get more involved in global Internet Governance matters. The CEO shared the community framework used by AFRINIC to engage, and how the open Policy development process, and elections takes place.

AFRINIC’s Project manager Mwendwa Kivuva chaired the sessions on Emerging issues in internet governance, Cyber-security, [Multi-stakeholder internet governance: achievements, strengths and weaknesses.

AFRISIG - an initiative of APC and NEPAD - is an important forum that seeks to bring new voices in Africa into the Internet Governance space. It is commendable to see the level of engagement and dedication the students demonstrated in seeking to learn more on Internet Governance issues. What was evident was the urge of the participant to engage more, eagerness to have time extended for sessions so that they can ask more questions, and give inputs and suggestions.

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