The 8th edition of the annual Africa Internet governance forum(AfIGF) took place in N’Djamena,Tchad from 10-12 September 2019 under the Theme “Shared Responsibilities of Stakeholders for a robust Internet Governance Ecosystem.The meeting which was being held for the first time ever by a francophone country and in the central africa region brought together a record of over 500 participants from over 35 countries with diverse stakeholders background to deliberate on how to strengthen multistakeholderism in order to achieve a strong internet ecosystem in Africa.
This year’s AFIGF was remarkable as it hosted for the very first time the Africa Youth Internet Governance Forum that was officially launched.Prior to the AfIGF’19 was the,the meeting was the Africa School of Internet Governance(Afrisig 5th-9th September) and the Chad National Internet Governance Forum on 9th September.
Session:Induction of new comers and opening remarks
The session began with welcoming remarks by Mary Uduma,chairperson of the Afric IGF MAG,followed by a brief session on induction of newcomers moderatorated by Mr.Faya Makane,Chairperson of the Africa IGF secretariat
.Key recommendations from this session include:
★ African IGF needs to upload the African Declaration on Internet Rights on its website in order to promote it
★ African countries need to widely promote the positive aspects of the Internet while at the same time educate the population, especially youth on the negative impact and wrong usage of the social networks.
This session was followed by a keynote address from the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commision.Other parallel sessions were held include Youth IGF,Ruralization session and National RIs sessions.
YOUTH IGF & PARALLEL SESSION(National RIs and Ruralization) RECOMMENDATIONS
★ There is a need for the youths to get involved in shaping policies that affect the growth and democratic usage of the Internet in Africa
★ Young people should be encouraged to challenge the status quo to enable sustainable innovation and development in Africa.
★ The Government of the Countries in Africa should involve more young people in national policy-making processes.
★ As the major users of the internet, the youths are in the best position to contribute to the conversations of Internet Governance, for security, accessibility and safety online.
★ Youth Participation in Internet Governance is very important, they need to actively participate in the ecosystem. A plea is made to the African Union and government.
★ There is a need to create an environment of Trust and the Youths are encouraged to hold the leaders accountable.
★ We Government need to address the issues of Cyberbullying
★ There is a need for a concerted multi stakeholder approach as well as the need to contextualize data protection legislative processes.
★ Data protection commissioners should begin implementing their provisions data protection policies and ensure the functionality of data controllers in order to guard against human rights violations
★ Organizations need to rethink workflow, workforce, and workplace from the ground up to take advantage of technologies while creating meaning and value for employees.
★ Companies have to align organizational structure, leadership, and workforce development as they execute a cohesive strategy that goes beyond a short-term equation of cost and efficiency to creating sustainable innovation.
★ There is a need for urgent attention and investment in the human capital development of the Youths. Especially in skills development to let the youths in Africa to remain relevant in the future of work.
★ The youths in Africa urge the African Union and Governments to help in balancing the key elements that are changing the future of work: Automation and Innovation.
Keynote Address by Allison Gilwadd, Executive Director for ICT Research Africa
Dr.Allison Gilwad in her opening remarks began by thanking the government of Tchad for having a vision for a vibrant Africa digital future and hosting the 8th edition of the AfIGF.She underpinned the issues of development of a resilient,safe and secure information infrastructure ,
harmonisation of digital policies to enable inter-africa trade and regional development specifically the Africa Free Trade Agreement
She raised the following key questions in regards to policy challenges presented by the datafication of the economy to attain development in Africa and urged the African Union,governments and other stakeholders in internet governance to deliberate on them.
★ How do we harness the benefits of digital policies digital technologies while limiting the
potential harm to citizens,enterprises and governments?
★ How do we ensure digital inclusions of all people in the dynamic environment and how do we mitigate the risk associated with bringing large numbers of people online,many of them without the digital literacy to defend their rights online?
★ How do we ensure not only that our countries are using the latest technology of AI or drones or blockchain for development purposes but there is data justice for those on whom those technologies are being used or for whom their data is being extracted.?
She also took time to condemn that current xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals in South Africa and called on the South African government to take decisive action to end violence and protect property.
She addressed the political and economic fallouts associated with illegal activities in the internet pointing out cases of internet shutdowns,illegal data mining for psychographic profiling,fake news and propaganda as issues that can be effectively addressed through international cooperation.
In conclusion,she made the following key submissions
★ Interpretation of the internet as a global public good that needs international cooperation and institution that support its development.Africa,despite being the most diverse region with more than 50 states at different levels of development,different political systems,different languages and cultures has made tremendous strides,although alot still needs to be done.
★ Cyber Stability and resilience through agreed protocols and standards developed by
ICANN and professional and efficient distribution of Internet number resources to the Sfrican Internet community by AfrNiic as key internet interface level of the internet issues
★ Mobilization of African countries by the Afrcan Union Commission around securing the
‘ .Africa generic top level domain(gtld) for Africa as an example of African cooperation and collaboration
★ Internet interface is mostly reliant on the infrastructure and service layer and its extent
and quality depends on effectively regulated competitive markets.
★ Supply side constraints on accessing broadband infrastructure still exist in many African countries,supply-side constraints have become the biggest challenge to affordable and meaningful access to the internet,with broadband coverage exceeding internet penetration levels .This inhibits the required penetration level that unlocks the networks effects associated with economic growth and other positive social multipliers.
★ Cost of device is the main barrier to coming online while unaffordability of data remains
the reason for not using services.
★ Pay attention to measures that stimulate demand in order to address digital inequality in Africa.Affordability,human development(education) and income are the primary determinants of access,intensity of use and the internet for production and not only consumption
★ Development of relevant local content and applications in local languages along with the enhancement of citizens digital literacy skills,are all important demand stimulants.
★ Development of ICT strategies across the ICT ecosystem that will enable Africa to reach the critical mass and intensity of use needed for the network
★ Collaboration on development of local based evidence including supporting the AUC to collect all universal indicators to inform innovative policy making approaches that understand
★ African governments to ensure stability and readiness for 5G technology so that its potential could be harnessed for public purposes and not just commercial applications
★ Governments to relook on counterproductive tax regimes to bring down cost and reduce the input cost into their economies.Secondary taxes on mobile operators with low pricing structures in many African countries mean that countries are not reinvesting in network extensions.
★ Legitimate taxation of global service providers and platform generating mega profits from business activities in national jurisdictions in which they operate can only be achieved through global cooperation and reciprocity.
★ Failure to address fundamental inequalities offline risk being replicated online thereby inhibiting our vision of achieving a digitally inclusive continental economy and society.
Sessions: Official opening & High Level Roundtable Policy Discussion: “Frontier Issues for Internet Governance in Africa: Achieving Equal Digital Opportunity for All”
Panelists:Civil Society-Dr.Cisse Kane, President ACSIS Youth representative
Private Sector- Hossam El Gamel, AFICTA Academia representative
REC representatives ICANN
★ Member States are once again called up on to take the necessary action to ratify the
AUC Convention on Cybercrime and Personal Data Protection and show their solidarity towards creating global online safety, security and data protection
★ African countries should address counter-productive tax regimes that inhibit access
and use of ICTs and explore ways to appropriately taxing companies (mainly global tech companies) extracting profits generated from domestic users.
★ African countries should broaden access to rural and underserved communities by
deploying unutilized spectrum including the utilization of universal service funds to extend commercially available public wi-fi to all public spaces to enhance the use of the Internet and promote inclusive digital development.
★ Parliament need to be given a chance to participate in the development of digital laws,
policies and strategies as they can help in underpinning the issue with local situations
★ Civil society’s engagement is indispensable in ICT education, discussion and formulation of digital policies and strategies.
★ Universities and private ICT companies must work together in order to address the ever increasing demand of students for ICT knowledge skills.
★ African countries to lobby for the hosting of at least 3 global IGF’s by 2025.
★ Hossam Elgamel from Aficta recommendations on behalf of Private sector:
➔ Transition from a telecommunications regulator to a regulator of the digital society and the digital economy
➔ Creating a forum for the technology industry development bodies in the continent to share challenges,development plans,knowledge,experiences and projects
➔ Involving representatives of different development sectors,in the light of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development,in the internet governance forums to raise awareness and discuss appropriate regulatory policies for digital transformation in each sector
➔ Working together a digital portal in collaboration with Smart Africa and AfiCTA to provide the necessary information on the ecosystem,projects,strategies,policies and focal points for digital transformation in different African countries
Session: Achieving Digital Inclusion in Africa Moderated by Dr. Cisse Kane, President ACSIS Panelists:Safia Mahamat Youssuof
Mohamed Timoulalu Noha Abdel Baky
★ There is need to secure electronic transactions via two aspects, legal aspect- the state needs to have policies. Also technical aspect- This includes security and infrastructure.
★ Government needs to ensure the availability of infrastructure
★ .Build capacity of women in cybersecurity
★ The AU needs to bring together member states to cooperate as a continent to improve cyber security, not just on paper but rather on Policy harmonization, cooperation against threats
★ Sensitization and capacity building on cybersecurity
Session: Affordable & Non-discriminatory Access to the Internet in Africa
Moderated by Pierre Dandjirou, ICANN Panelist: Ndeye Maimouna Diop, Senegal
Alison Gilwald- South Africa Doauda Alhadji – Chad
★ Important to understand how to make the Digital inclusion a reality. Excessive tax and issues of power source are barriers to digital inclusion. Therefore, there is a need for good regulation and good electricity to increase the inclusion of everyone.
★ National regulators both Upstream Internet Service Providers and the Internet Exchange Points (IXP ) should ensure that users are not overcharged and help to regulate the price
★ Power is one of the major sources that is barring people from accessing the internet therefore, Internet Service providers and the Government can work together to build more power infrastructure. •
★ Reduction of Taxes on the Internet Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)
★ An African Union framework for countries to interlink using fibre and the countries are advised not to impose taxes on users, countries can use that avenue to diversify and not rely on a particular country or provider.
Session VIII: Security, Safety, Stability & Resilience of cyberspace Moderated by:Roland Guelguer
Panelists: Cade Zavaganja
Oarabile Mudongo Vladmir Radunovic
★ Secure electronic transactions via two aspects, legal , technical, management and policy elements. Government needs to ensure the availability of infrastructure.
★ Build capacity of women in cybersecurity
★ AU needs to bring together member states to cooperate as a continent to improve cyberspace, not just on paper but rather on Policy harmonization, cooperation against threats
★ Sensitization and capacity building on cybersecurity
Session XIX: Digital Cooperation & Future of the Internet Moderated by:Kolima MAjawe ,APC
Panelists:Chengetai Massango, IGF Secretariat Hossam Elgamal, AFICTA
Elizabeth Orembo, KICTANET
★ The need for stakeholders to work together
★ Need for PRIDA project to establish monitoring and evaluation of various projects in Africa
★ Establish an e-commerce for the African continent to be able to participate in the digital economy.
★ Open and participatory governance
★ Build trust among stakeholders
Session : Emerging Technologies for Sustainable Growth Moderated by: Verangai Mabuka, ISOCC Panelists:Hafedh Garbi Yamadu
Adisa Bolatife Hamit Djeroua
★ Head of governments needs to be informed on the key recommendations for emerging technologies
★ Open data policy as we are lacking policies in Emerging Technologies
★ Capacity Building and re-skilling to get the youth ready for the opportunities and new jobs created as a result of Emerging Technologies, as many of the jobs will be automated
★ Investing in Infrastructure and using Technology to do so
★ Using Expertise and relying on research
★ There is a need to re-think how the African data is used and who is using it
★ Cloud computing will enable SMEs growth by minimising cost of infrastructure
★ Address biases in Artificial intelligence systems
The ceremony was closed on September,12 by the Minister of State,Minister Secretary General to the Presidency of the Republic of TChad.It began by a brief speech from Ms.Sigi Wazani,representing AfrSIG’19.She retaliated that online rights should be enforced as fundamental human rights as we seek to achieve a robust internet ecosystem.
Mr.Moctar Yedley,Head of Information Society Division in the African Union Commission commended the participants and fora noting that the forum is part of the implementation of the African Agenda for Digital Emergence by 2025.In his speech,I quote “we took into account some recommendations that go in favor of the African people on internet governance including in particular,questions about access to the internet in rural areas,fight against cybercrime,adoption of digital system in the African education system,promotion of digital health as a development factor for the African people”
H.E the Minister of State,Secretary General to the Presidency, Kalzeubet Pahimiexpressed his appreciation to the organizing committee on the amazing forum.He underpinned that the recommendations from the forum are key to achieving the viability and vitality of digital technologies.He added that N’djamena’s actions will be the only African contribution to the World forum on internet governance in Berlin,Germany.
AWARD IN RECOGNITION OF THE INTERNET
During an award ceremony by the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Government of Chad to recognize the contribution in Internet development of:
– Ridha Guellouz of Tunisia. He has proposed in 1998 at the Indianapolis ITU Plenipotentiaries Conference convening of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Since then he has been at the forefront of WSIS and IGF worldwide and in Africa and the Arab world.
Makane Faye, retired staff of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa & Moctar Yedaly of the African Union. They have established the African Internet Governance Forum and have been running it successfully since its inception despite all odds. Moreover they have strengthened existing partnerships and enlisted new partners and more African countries and RECs in the Internet governance process.