Dear members of ACSIS, friends and actors of the African Civil Society for ICT and sustainable development.
Several years ago, in June 2003, on the occasion of the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, we launched the pan-African network Africa Civil Society for the Information Society (ACSIS) to promote Inclusive Information Society in Africa. It was a heroic and successful process, thanks to Africa valiant daughters and sons, who certainly will recognize themselves.
Since then, ACSIS was formally established and started working, despite challenges. To date, ACSIS has statutes and rules of procedure, as well as all legal instruments. ACSIS was recognized by the Government of Senegal in 2008. ACSIS is a member of ITU since 2010, the Digital Solidarity Fund in full (DSF), and we are continuing to be accredited by other international bodies.
Through its members, ACSIS actively participates in all international dialogues on ICT and Development in Africa and the world. Among them IGF, AfIGF, WSIS Forum, DSF, ITU, ICANN and IANA Transition, AFRALO, etc. With varying degrees of success, national and regional coordinators and individual members of ACSIS also provided assistance through the creation of national and regional IGF, workshops, training and awareness on ICT issues.
These achievements have not been possible without the invaluable support of the peoples and governments of Mali, Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa and partner institutions such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union, the International Organization of the Francophonie, the International Telecommunication Union, etc.
Past the period of setting up ACSIS structures, we must move forward with the mandate of the organization.
That is my call to you. So that together, we tackle the challenges faced in realizing an open and inclusive information society in Africa. For this, we must redouble our efforts and vigilance. Despite some advances, digital inclusion remains a pipe dream for most Africans:
- Costs of internet and telecommunications in general are beyond the reach of many because of low household incomes, and prohibitive prices levied by service providers.
- Internet penetration rates remain relatively low (around 20% on average) compared to the rest of the world.
- We still regularly browse the Internet using languages that are not ours.
- Illiteracy limits access to digital inclusion and excludes non-literate people
- We are lacking local and relevant contents.
- We are often reduced to being mere users without much grip on the processes.
- Mobile phones alone cannot bridge the real deficit of access to knowledge.
- Africa does not get most of the benefits of the ICT sector: Most ICT companies operating in Africa are the most successful in the continent, but are in the hands of foreign multinationals.
- The Digital Economy in Africa is nothing else but a cash cow.
- The challenges of electrical and electronic waste remains whole in our continent
- Cybercrime and its multifaceted manifestations are still a challenge in the continent.
- The risk of ‘gadgetisation-peoplisation’ (particularly through social networks) diverts us from real and critical issues like seeking knowledge, skills, creativity and jobs.
- There are no adequate policies in place to steer the ICT sector, and even where policies are available, implementation and governance is still a challenge.
- Information and data about us (including our mostintimate conversations, 90% of emails and website servers), strategicdata from our countries (includingthe most sensitive)are recorded and storedin giganticserverscontrolled(and owned) by private companies outside of Africa
It’s all these challenges and more, we have to face together, if we want ICTs to be a real vector for development. We must also be vigilant actors and not just users: We must be useful ICT promoters. For us to turn these challenges into opportunities to generate value-added innovation through concerted advocacy and training for quality human resources.
You will discover this website is yours. It is a concrete contribution of the African Civil Society on ICT to the emergence of a connected Africa, responsible for its own development.
We hope to count on the commitment of all of you, with the help of our partners to make it a tool for people and governments in Africa in line with the overall sustainable development goals.
Sign up, share ideas, sensitize, get trained, inform about your events and weigh on the destiny of our continent through this platform.
Long live Africa!
For useful, sustainable, caring and responsible ICT!