Tag Archives: policy

Building Africa’s Capacity on Internet Governance

Participants listening to a speaker at the African School of Internet Governance

By Juliet N. Nanfuka

The growth of the internet has seen numerous efforts to ensure its equitable and sustainable use. A key outcome is  the concept of Internet Governance (IG)  based on the principle that no single entity owns or controls the internet but rather a range of players who reflect the diversity of users globally participates in its governance.

Over the years, IG has gained prominence through platforms such as the Internet Governance Forums which are hosted annually at national, regional and global level.

In 2013, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) through its e-Africa Programme and the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) established the African School on Internet Governance. The school seeks to address IG issues from an African perspective while at the same time equipping more players from the continent to contribute and participate more meaningfully in the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.

This year, CIPESA alongside participants   and faculty members from over 20 countries collectively shared unique insights, experiences and understanding of internet governance at the school which took place between 21 and 25 November in Mauritius. The participants, from backgrounds including government, academia, civil society and the private sector, explored the complexities of internet governance with interactive talks and presentations. They mapped out the course that internet governance has taken to-date, the various institutions and policy processes, emerging human rights issues, and what different African countries are doing with regards to IG.

“As it often happens, Africans have not been at the forefront of the internet and its related issues, but gradually we are realising the potentials of the internet and the need to make our voices heard in its governance. With platforms such as AfriSIG building capacities of Africans from different stakeholder groups and the worth of information available on the internet, I see a brighter future for Africa in IG issues both at the continental and global levels.” Dora Mawutor of the Media Foundation for West Africa – Participant at the African School on Internet Governance

Central to the school was that participants garnered an understanding of the roles of the different internet stakeholders, the varied interests they have and how all this impacts upon outcomes at an IG multi-stakeholder meeting when trying to reach consensus on an issue.

While initiatives like the Africa IG school demonstrate movements to better equip more people from the African continent to drive IG locally and at international IG fora, in many countries local factors such as poor access, limited local content, low literacy and high costs remain areas that require more focus and locally driven solutions.

However, facets of IG in Africa especially where it applies to security, privacy, surveillance and intermediary liability still require further scrutiny. As seen in the State of Internet Freedoms in East Africa 2014 report, these issues are increasingly impacting upon human rights, freedom of the press, critical opposition and equality, among others, on the continent.

It is also essential that building Africa’s capacity in IG is tailored to also accommodate the unique needs and requirements of its internet users such as the availability of non-Latin script African languages online to contribute towards local content and cultural preservation.

It is, however, worth noting that despite existing challenges, many African governments and civil society actors are making progress in strengthening internet related frameworks that support the fundamentals of a free, open and secure internet. Helping shape the continent’s approach to protecting internet rights are initiatives such as the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms.

Similarly, the NetRightsNG initiative of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria  is collaborating  other players to champion a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill  in Nigeria. In Uganda, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA) and National Information Technology Authority, Uganda (NITA-U) have developed a Draft Data Protection and Privacy Bill (2014) which is currently going through a process of review and commentary by citizens.

As more African countries map the way forward for the information age, there remains the need to ensure that valuable contributions are made to global Internet Governance as it is this very participation that will define the further adoption of internet governance principles in Africa.

What does the future hold for the Internet Governance Forum?

IGF

By Juliet N. Nanfuka

As the dust settles following the ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which was held in Istanbul, Turkey between 2 and 5 September, many questions remain lurking. The biggest being whether the IGF has made a strong enough case for its continued existence. The IGF currently has a mandate that takes it until 2015. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly is due to take a decision about its renewal at the beginning of December 2014.

Lillian Nalwoga (third from left), Policy Officer at CIPESA makes a comment during a panel session at the 9th IGF in Istanbul, Turkey.

Lillian Nalwoga (third from left), Policy Officer at CIPESA makes a comment during a panel session at the 9th IGF in Istanbul, Turkey.

In keeping with the IGF’s core principle of multi-stakeholder engagement, the 9th Internet Governance Forum brought together an assortment of internet policy stakeholders including multinational organisations, state representatives, civil society and internet enthusiasts. The theme of this year’s IGF was “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multi stakeholder Internet Governance” and was explored through the lens of net neutrality, multilingualism, youth and social media, gender, policy development, stakeholder roles and other related issues.

In a series of workshops, book launches and open sessions, internet policies were discussed and how they relate and impact upon society, development, business, governance and democracy. While there was agreement on some issues, divergence remained when it came to discussions on where monetising the internet clashed with big data, privacy, surveillance, intermediary liability and net neutrality.

This year’s meeting saw over 3,000 delegates from across the world convene in a country currently battling with some of the controversial internet related issues such as surveillance, censorship, privacy and data protection under discussion at the IGF. According to the 2013 Freedom on the Net report, nearly 30,000 websites and social media accounts are blocked in Turkey for social or political reasons. But Turkish bureaucrats deftly skirted these issues in their opening and closing speeches. While mention was made of the state of Turkish internet freedom by delegates, it mostly remained a rumbling in the underbelly of the meeting. However, some light on Turkey’s internet freedom status was heavily discussed at the Internet Ungovernance Forum organised by Turkish civil society organisations to protest the country’s hosting of the meeting given their government’s internet rights violations record.

For many participants, NetMundial was still a key talking point and formed the basis of some of the IGF’s discussions including promoting multilingualism, collaborative multi-stakeholder models, gender and internet rights, minority rights online, child online protection, privacy and surveillance and developing relevant local content. NetMundial demonstrated that multi-stakeholderism is possible and consensus can be drawn even on the most contentious internet governance topics (see NetMundial statement).

NetMundial sought to deliberate on the Future of Internet Governance by crafting Internet governance principles and proposing a roadmap for the further evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem.

Even though the IGF has for the past nine years provided a platform for the debate and deliberation on the very issues that NetMundial dealt with, there have been limited discernible outcomes and impact measurements due to the nature and complexity of internet governance and its actors.

However, much like the constantly transforming internet, the IGF will have to re-asses its financial sustainability model to ensure its survival and position itself as a driver of best practices on internet governance. Part of this includes the production of outcome documents such as policy recommendations for voluntary adoption – a suggestion put forward by the European Commission – a key funder of the IGF. Such actions could help shake off the ‘talk shop’ cloak that has shadowed the IGF and position it as a platform for deliberation on global internet governance concerns with more discernible outcomes.

The Tenth IGF is scheduled to take place in João Pessoa, Brazil on 10 to 13 November 2015.

ToroDev trains rural youth and women in online advocacy for improved service delivery

rural_monitors

ToroDev has started training rural women and youth leaders in the seven districts of the Rwenzori Region in using online tools to monitor service delivery. The maiden residential 2 days training involving ten participants was held on 16th – 17th of August, 2012 at ToroDev resource center in Fort Portal, Uganda. The training which is supported by ToroDev in partnership with SPIDER/Stockholm University was facilitated by Milton Aineruhanga from WOUGNET.

ToroDev will train 210 rural monitors and advocates in online/ Web 2.0 tools to collect, document and disseminate online public accountability for improved serviced delivery issues. They will particularly oriented on how to interact with the “Ushahidi” online platform and other relevant open-source software. The monitors were also trained in online social media tools, human rights, governance and democratic engagement.

The monitors were highly trained to be independent local citizens that will keep updating the community and project team at ToroDev about the status of service delivery and identifying communities own service delivery needs.

They will further go ahead to mobilize and encourage regular meetings and focus group discussions (FGDs) among the 14 Advocacy Forums in the region on issues of service delivery monitoring.

Rural Monitors will also advocate for quality and timely public accountability from local leaders.  They will use 11 radio stations in the Rwenzori region as a major tool for distributing/disseminating all the information accessed through online/internet and mobile phones.

This information will be converged on the FM radio stations as a way of sharing information with the rest of grass root citizens in the region, who may not necessarily have the skills and afford town or access internet based knowledge tools. The rural FM radio will be used a hub for the convergence of all ICT tools for effective service delivery monitoring in the Rwenzori Region.

Some of the sample articles posted by the rural monitors on the Ushahidi platform.

http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/59
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/66
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/62
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/64
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/56
http://wougnet.org/ushahidi/reports/view/51

Documented by Solomon Akugizibwe

This article was published on August 28, 2012, about the ICT4Democracy in East Africa project, which brings together various partners in the region – among them CIPESA.

For more information, visit www.ict4democracy.org