Session: Open Forum
[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]
The session begun with Ms Palesa Legoze (Chair), Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, South Africa, stating how the session was a result of feedback from the 2016 African IGF (AfIGF) held in South Africa. It was remarkable how the AfIGF-16 was well attended by high-level government officials and experts, meeting to discuss topical issues, which interest Africans, and how to take Internet innovation forward.
Mr Adil Ismail Suleiman, Senior Policy Officer, AU Commission, talked about some achievements and challenges the AfIGF has encountered. He highlighted the AU Declaration draft on Net Governance during the previous IGF. The draft declaration was put online so that ministers of ICTs under the AU could comment and contribute, and subsequently consider it for adoption by the head of states. The challenge, however, was the lack of political will by governments accepting the ICTs as an enabler for Africa to leap frog into the twenty-first century and achieve the SDGs. He therefore called for the active inclusion of policymakers in ICT discussions, to enable them build trust and confidence in the use of ICTs.
Dr Mawaki Chango, Digital Access Consultant, Togo, gave feedback on the African School of IG (AFRISIG) which is one of the region-focused capacity building programmes on IG, convened by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) along with the agency on behalf of the AU. He acknowledged that the fourth edition of the school held this year was very good since it was fairly balanced between a mixture of government officials, civil society, lawyers, students (including PhD candidates), and staff from international co-operation agencies. The selected candidates are grouped into topical issues and assigned roles, and this year’s issue was Internet Shutdown. The interesting and practical outcomes of the school were carried over to the AfIGF-16, where the AFRISIG and AfIGF were organized jointly. The class participated during the AfIGF-16 proceedings including organizing and hosting content as well as volunteering to be rapporteurs.
Mr Chagu Lugali, MAG member and co-founder of the Nigerian IGF, raised some concerns including the AU’s participation in the IGF, as well as engaging in international programmes and the African community all the time but as yet yielding no significant results. In addressing the question of the way forward for the AU in the IGF, the following were pointed out:
Ms Mandiaye Ndiaye, a senior librarian in Senegal and a member of the International Association of Librarians, talked about the recommendations of the AfIGF-16 in Durban and also the key issues of inclusiveness and trust in Africa. She said the recommendations reached for each session were to assist the role of Internet governance in the SDGs. Some of the recommendations made by the stakeholders include but are not limited to the following:
Ms Meru Duma, coordinator of the Nigerian IGF and the AfIGF, spoke of building on the outcomes of Durban and paving the way for digital transformation in Africa.
Other matters regarding the way forward to achieving the Durban recommendations were discussed, as well as suggestions from the panel and participants and the following conclusions were made as the meeting wrapped up:
by Ivy Hoetu, Internet Society Ghana