[Update] Read the event report which summarises the key discussions during the 5th African Internet Governance Forum:
Recommendations on SDGs, legislation, local content, made during 5th African IGF
The fifth African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) took place in Durban, South Africa, on 16-18 October 2016. The meeting was hosted by the Government of South Africa and the African Union Commission. Over 200 participants from several countries attended the meeting.
The AfIGF brought together ministers from the continent, policy and regulatory heads, civil society, industry 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 were 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 stated that Africa is guided by the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection adopted in 2014, the objectives of the AU Pan African e-Network, Pan African Radio & TV, the AU Space Agency, Dot Africa and Regional Internet Exchange Points projects. He said that the African continent must pay attention to infrastructure access, affordability and skilling in order for all citizens to be able to take advantage of the Internet and the Internet economy value chain.
Internet Society's Vice President of Global Engagement, Mr Raúl Echeberría, acknowledged success achieved with Internet Governance, especially at the national and regional levels where action is being taken. He advocated diversity and involvement of all stakeholders in order to ensure the relevance of decisions and actions undertaken.
There was significant participation from the youth who a week earlier had attended the fourth African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG), convened by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The youth gave a statement on Internet shutdowns, recognising the role of governments in maintaining state security, but also demonstrating how the shutdowns affect the social and economical activities of citizens.
A high-level session was held which issued recommendations on shaping the future of the Internet in Africa, Internet of Things, and e-commerce, and culminated in the Durban Declaration on Internet governance.
During the Inclusive Development and Digital Transformation in Africa session, Mr Lucky Masilela, member of the dotAfrica Steering Committee, referred to the ongoing battle over the management of the .africa domain; Nairobi-based DotConnectAfrica has taken ICANN to court for delegating control of the domain to South Africa's ZACR. Mr Masilela said that any delay in the .africa delegation meant the continent was being denied progress in inclusive development and digital transformation. He added that further delay of the delegation of .africa deprives Africa from participating in the digital economy.
In the same session, Mr Alan Barrette, the CEO of Africa Network Information Centre (AFRINIC), urged Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy IPv6 to their end users because IPv4 is at the end of its 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 costs.
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 African IGF charter was presented by Ms Mary Uduma, Managing Director at Jaeno Digital Solutions Ltd and ex-President of the Executive Board of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA). The charter sought to create a continent-wide Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) to facilitate the AfIGF activities.
The key recommendations from the AfIGF were:
- As African countries embark on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) implementation strategy, Internet governance must be embraced as: a social development tool for community transformation; a facilitator for pro-economic policies; a key domain for facilitating multi-stakeholders consensus and communication.
- That governments supported by civil society should create a platform and design programs that address issues related to women's rights in African states.
- African member states should ratify the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, and implement access to information laws, data protection and privacy laws and cybercrime laws.
- That governments and other stakeholders should focus on and draw and emphasis to how marginalized communities can participate in 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.
- Local authorities should promote community networks to provide Internet access to all.
- Develop a policy framework and strategy for promoting local content development and consumption.
- 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 for the responsible use of encryption services.
- Organisations and governments are encouraged to migrate to IPv6 and host local IXP and content to reduce the cost of access to the Internet. Regulators should review current regulations taking into account the new challenges of the migration process to IPv6.
- Governments must involve young people when creating policy for young people and children. Governments need to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship in the education system.
- Governments should promote national IG forums as key platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue and maintain ongoing communication with citizens. Governments should respect a multi-stakeholder approach in implementing national IGFs.
- Recommendations of the various IGFs should be taken into consideration in government, sub-regional and regional organisations’ future actions and plans.
by Mwendwa Kivuva, Internet Society Kenya Chapter
The 5th meeting of the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) will be held on 16-18 October 2016, in Durban, South Africa. The meeting will be hosted by the government of South Africa.
The two major themes that will be discussed at AfIGF 2016 are: inclusive development and the digital transformation of Africa, and Internet governance in Africa - building a gender balanced and truly inclusive multistakeholder model.
The African Internet Governance Forum aims to be a platform for inclusive, multilateral, multistakeholder and multilingual discussion on issues pertinent to the Internet in Africa, in general, and Internet governance issues in particular. The forum was formally launched in September 2011, at the initiative of sub-regional African IGF, in cooperation with the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
For more information about AfIGF 2016, visit the event website.