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The session dealt with the outcomes of the 7th African IGF and the recommendations to the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, as well as current developments of the African IGF including the need for balanced regional, stakeholder, and minority representation.
The open forum started with a presentation by Mr Jamal Amin, Chair of the African IGF, of the Summary Report on the 7th African IGF held 4-6 November 2018 in Sudan. Amin stated that the 7th African IGF served as the platform for an inclusive, multistakeholder and multilingual platform for issues concerning the Internet in Africa and Internet governance issues. The event was attended by 340 participants from 26 countries which included all multistakeholder groups. The 7th African IGF addressed issues such as access to infrastructure, emerging technologies, data, attaining the SDGs, and many more. Amin presented the outcome – the adoption of the recommendations relating to the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (UN HLPDC). The first recommendation was the need for proper consultation of the UN HLPDC with Africa, taking the regional history into consideration. Second, the African Union would coordinate the preparation of the submissions to the UN HLPDC by individual states in order to strengthen the African contribution and reflect the diversity of the continent. Other recommendations to the UN HLPDC include the organisation of a multi-sectoral, multi-level conference on digital co-operation, the need to regulate OTT and set the minimum compliance standards, and assuring non-discriminatory access to the Internet resources.
Mr Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society Division at the African Union Commission, presented the African Union’s initiative in Cyberspace. He announced that the African Union Declaration on Internet Governance had been approved by the heads of states. Yedali then introduced the capacity building initiative in Internet governance for training people on the regional (national) level from all sectors, stakeholder groups in order to enhance the work of IGF. Further, Yedaly introduced the creation of a digital platform for Internet governance issues, designed to serve as one-stop shop for these issues, as well as a tool for harmonisation of regulations, and the creation of African ICT community.
Mr Adil Suleiman, Senior Policy Officer, Telecom and ICT, African Union Commission, presented the issues faced with hosting the African IGF process, such as balanced inclusion by regions, gender, and age, visa issues, challenges related to hosting the African IGF in the regional settings, and budgetary issues. He stated that the partners of the African IGF, such as ICANN, ISOC, Afrinic, APC, and Facebook could greatly contribute by allowing individuals to participate in the events. Adil praised the bottom-up process which let the adoption of the African Union Declaration on Internet Governance.
Ms Mary Uduma, Chair of the NIGF-MAG, introduced the tree structures of African IGF – the IGF Secretariat, AfIGF MAG, and AfIGF noncom, stating that the last two are staffed by volunteers only. Uduma explained the appointment of 10 MAG experts and the work for the AfIGF noncom, stating that these are rotational two-year appointments reflecting the regions and all the stakeholders. She stressed the importance of francophone participation and regional participation from Central Africa.
The last speaker was Mr Makane Faye, Secretariat of African IGF, emphasised the importance of the first regional African IGFs.
The Q&A addressed the issues of gender parity, code of conduct at the African Union events, as well as the need to tax incomes from ICT locally.
By Pavlina Ittelson