African Union Open Forum

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Open Forum 3

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

African countries face many challenges in their efforts to participate in global Internet governance. The African Union Commission (AUC) is actively making efforts to progress in this regard. The AUC organised an Open Forum at IGF 2019 to discuss African perspectives and share updates on Internet governance initiatives in Africa.

The African Union Open Forum took place just a few hours after it was announced that Ms Anriette Esterhuysen will become the new MAG Chair and - coming from Africa - she received numerous congratulations at the session. Africa will rely on her for support with logistical issues, such as making sure that the AUC receives interpretation services at the next IGF, as well as more time for discussion than the Open Forum allows.

Mr Adil Sulieman (AUC) set the focus of the session around two main updates: the 2019 African IGF and the Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), which deals with capacity building for digital inclusion at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels.

The 2019 African IGF took place in Ndjamena, Chad, on 10-12 September. Dr Saleh Bacha (Minister of Posts and New Information and Communications Technologies, Chad) appreciated the results of the African IGF and reminded all that when it comes to countries like his - with a large rural population - focus on the question of access must not be lost.

Ms Halime Assadya Ali (Chair, African IGF Organizing Committee) spoke in more detail about the African IGF on the topic of shared responsibilities of stakeholders for a robust Internet governance ecosystem. Ali stressed that this was the first time that a francophone central African country hosted the African IGF. Over 700 participants from 45 countries attended. The African Youth IGF was inaugurated and a caucus of the elderly was organised. 52% of attendees were students and trainees, 25% were from the civil society, and 10% from the government. 78% of participants were male and 64% were youth.

Ms Mary Uduma (African IGF-MAG) encouraged more countries to organise national IGFs. Regarding the 2020 African IGF, a host has not yet been announced. Uduma noted that the competition for organising the next African IGF is tough, with multiple countries interested. As Mr Makane Faye (African IGF Secretariat) concluded, Chad set the bar very high.

The rest of the session was dedicated to the presentation of PRIDA. The African Union leadership feels that the African participation in the global IG is low and that something has to be done. PRIDA is supported by the European Union Commission. Ms Margaret Nyambura (PRIDA) described the project in more detail. The objective is to enable the African continent to reap the benefits of digitalisation. It is an initiative of the AUC, EU, and ITU that strives to strengthen IG structures and processes at national, regional, and continental levels, as well as to build and develop capacities and offer coaching services.

Three assessment studies were implemented already and a validation workshop for the studies took place in November in Addis Ababa.

By Tereza Horejsova

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