“I find the voice of Africa to be quiet on issues of internet governance”: An interview with Pria Chetty

At the recently concluded 2016 edition of the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG), APCNews spoke with Pria Chetty, the regional director of EndCode, who formed part of this year’s faculty team. Pria has been involved with AfriSIG since its inception, so catching up with her was exciting.

With the renewal of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for another 10 years, it is important to get an understanding of where Africa fits in this process beyond mere participation. In this conversation with APCNews, Pria discussed Africa’s role in internet governance and emerging issues for Africa.

APCNews: How can Africa influence the internet governance agenda?

Pria Chetty: I think we have amazing fora at the moment with the [national and regional] IGFs, so that it a wonderful place. My concern with the IGF is possibly how inclusive it is of the different stakeholders that form the multistakeholder grouping. Are we getting to all the different communities? The forum, as it is, is a great facility. What we need to do in order for its intention to be realised is to make sure that the communities that attend are inclusive. So we need to spend some time in getting that right.

APCNews: Do you think internet governance is a priority in Africa?

PC: It certainly is a priority, because we are being impacted by decisions in the global public policy setting and we perhaps are not participating as effectively or vocally as we should be. On the issues of internet governance, I find the voice of Africa to be quiet. We need to grow our voice and influence, and therefore internet governance is definitely a priority.

APCNews: How can ordinary Africans engage and be part of the internet governance process?

PC: I suppose it’s the responsibility of everyone who feels passionate about internet governance issues to take those messages, interpret them and take them forward to their respective communities, so that ordinary people get the opportunity to share their views. Whoever is the messenger in those scenarios should be open to influence, and we should be open to hearing different views. Messages from the grassroots levels must be carried forward.

APCNews: Is cybersecurity an issue in Africa?

PC: Definitely, I think I agree with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) approach about creating trust frameworks. These will be key for the internet to flourish in realising the information society and the knowledge economy. So, cybersecurity is key together with building trust frameworks.

One on one interview conducted by Yolanda Mlonzi for APCNews

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