AfriSIG 2018: What happens when someone breaks your trust?

Life is a series of relationships, whether business or personal, and each of these relationships must be based on trust. The aim of the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) is to give Africans from diverse sectors and stakeholder groups the opportunity to gain knowledge and confidence to participate effectively in internet governance processes and debates nationally, regionally and globally. For us to achieve that, we must be trustworthy and trusting. Our first exercise during the AfriSIG class of 2018 was the oil pricing exercise, from which I learned quite a lot about building and maintaining trust.

The oil pricing exercise is a scenario in which two neighbouring oil-producing countries come together to set certain rules on pricing their oil in order to benefit both parties in terms of profits. In this situation, everything had been going well between the two countries until a recent break in diplomatic relations. At this point, each country was able to set a price for their oil without consulting the other country. In the scenario, everything went smoothly for the first two months, but during the following three months, the country I was representing suffered a big loss in profits. We had a negotiation with our neighbour, and we thought we reached an agreement. After that, the other country played fair for a couple of months, but in the third month, they broke the rules by reducing their oil price. We were not expecting that kind of behaviour from them after our negotiation. So, my first reaction was: why did they disrespect what we agreed to during the negotiation? I wished they had been willing to have a second meeting so they could explain to us why they behaved in this way. I felt so angry and disappointed even though it was just an exercise. We learnt later that there was a misunderstanding between our negotiator and that of our neighbour, but by then it was too late. The damage was done.

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