IGF 2017 had been held successfully in Geneva Switzerland, 18 – 21 December. Some ACSIS members were on-site and some others participated remotely. Below is my watercolour impression (as a remote participant) of Africa’s participation in the great summit. It may serve as a little lamp on ACSIS path to interventions toward appropriate multi-stakeholder commitment to having the Internet that stimulates and sustains holistic development in the continent.

Sessions: 9 Main/Special sessions (Wisdom Donkor featuring in 2) + 40 pre-event sessions (on Day 0) + 214 other sessions (including Opening and Closing). 

7 sessions specifically on Africa (of the 254 pre-event, workshop and open forum sessions); Subjects of the African sessions including Internet shutdowns, digital inclusion, rights, and African IGF Open Forum.

Government participation:

16 or 29.6℅ of about 54 national governments in Africa represented; Roll call: Chad, Congo Democratic Republic, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia.

Highlights from African IGF Open Forum, Day 3 (20 December), the most interactive and exciting of all the sessions I attended:

A)  44 participants attended. On the panel were Christine Arida (Director of telecom services and branding, National Telecom Regulatory Authority, Egypt) moderator; Mary Uduma (Coordinator, West Africa IGF); Adil Suleiman (Senior ICT Officer, African Union Commission); Makane Faye (African IGF Secretariat); Chairman of North Africa IGF Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group; Michael Lindsay.

B) Information about a forthcoming €2.5 million 3-year massive capacity building program to be done by the African Union Commission and the European Commission in collaboration with civil society and other stakeholder communities. According to Makane, “It is policy and regulation initiative on digital Africa.”

C) Information about 6th African IGF (AfIGF) held 4 – 6 December in Egypt with 314 participants (on-site + remote), 37% male, 43℅ female (from 37 countries), including 30 African youth who were in the AfIGF right from African School of Internet Governance held 28 November – 2nd December. Theme of the AfIGF = “Enabling inclusive digital transformation of Africa” with 13 main sessions; 8 parallel sessions.

D) 7th AfIGF (2018)  to be hosted by Sudan.. Dates to be announced hopefully in 1st Quarter of 2018 (that is, probably by or before end of March 2018) to enable prospective participants to have enough time to apply for and obtain visas. Complaints that time for processing visa for AfIGF 2016 (South Africa) and AfIGF 2017 (Egypt) was too short and many people missed visa for on-site participation.

E) Information about North Africa IGF Charter which was adopted in Marrakech in 2016. Thus is an innovative sub-regional IGF initiative.

F) Information about African IGF Charter adopted in AfIGF 2017 Egypt, providing for a nominating committee that will nominate people into AfIGF Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG). Nominating Committee to be announced from January 2018 and thereafter a call for nomination of MAG members.

G) Only 2 sub-regional IGFs fully involved in IGF processes: West Africa and Southern Africa IGFs.

H) Of 54 countries in Africa, only 25 countries have national IGF.

That’s all I can drop here regarding the just ended IGF 2017 in Geneva, especially as it relates to Africa. Peter, Wisdom, Makane, Chennai, Evelyn, Nnenna, and other ACSIS members who attended the IGF can please correct any wrong information I might have given.

From this outline, does any one see Africa on the path to digital transformation? How do we step out or advance in order to reach the target? 

Detailed discussions / Questions & Answers in the African IGF Open Forum and other IGF 2017 sessions can be found in the Transcripts of sessions. 

Download the attached list of transcripts (PDF file) and click on any session title to access the online transcript (English). Sessions ran from Day 0 to Day 4.  Also download the AfIGF Charter if you had not got a copy (the draft was adopted with almost no amendment) and AfIGF 2017 Outcome Document.  Transcripts can alternatively be accessed through this link: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/igf-2017-transcripts.

As I foresee a digitally better Africa in 2018 with increased commitment by all stakeholders to participating in relevant policy and program discussions, advocacy and actions. Africa must get there.

CPU

_____________________________
Chris Prince Udochukwu Njoku, Ph.D.

ACSIS Nigeria member
ICT, e-Learning and Knowledge Management specialist.
President, Researchers on ICTs in Education in Africa