AfriSIG alumni: A growing presence in internet governance spaces

The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) is an annual five-day residential course run by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency. The goal of the School is to develop a pipeline of leading Africans from diverse sectors, backgrounds and ages with the skills to participate in local and international internet governance structures, and shape the future of the internet landscape for Africa's development.

Alumni from the four editions of AfriSIG held so far are successfully moving into the internet governance space by participating in major events at both the regional and international levels. They are selected or invited to participate on the basis of their engagement and work in their respective communities. AfriSIG was an opportunity that helped them either to enter the internet governance space or to gain a deeper understanding of the main internet governance issues, with a focus on regional bodies and institutional actors.

At the ICANN59 meeting taking place this week in Johannesburg (26-29 June), many AfriSIG alumni are present and involved in various aspects of the event. Some are representing ICANN constituencies they are active in, while others are just entering into the ICANN space, another global actor developing policies in a multistakeholder way.

There are two main categories of fellowships that ICANN offers. Many of the AfriSIG alumni were selected for these fellowships, either for the first time or as alumni of the programme. Other AfriSIG alumni like Yolanda Mlonzi (Class of 2015) and Thato Mfikwe (Class of 2016), who live in Johannesburg and are members of the ICANN Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), helped organise a two-day NCUC outreach meeting that took place on 23-24 June – and was a big success, based on comments from those who attended. So, kudos to them!

The ICANN59 Fellowship Programme (including the Newcomer Regional Pilot Programme)

The AfriSIG alumni selected for this fellowship include Evelyn Namara (Class of 2016, Uganda), Emmanuel Agbenonwossi (Class of 2016, Togo), Michael Ilishebo (Class of 2014, Zambia, and also a member of the Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group, IGF MAG), Silas Ngabirano (Class of 2016, Uganda) and Koliwe Majama (Class of 2016, Zimbabwe). Koliwe Majama stood out in particular for her engagement in various sessions, taking the floor to challenge panels and raise some important issues. Arsène Tungali (Class of 2016, Democratic Republic of Congo) served as her Coach for this meeting, and met with her prior to the meeting to discuss various aspects of ICANN and how she could prepare to fully benefit from this opportunity.

There are also some AfriSIG participants who are not part of the fellowship but who happen to be attending this meeting and proudly representing the community. They include Mistura Aruna (Class of 2013, Nigeria, representing his country in the ICANN Government Advisory Group), Anri van der Spuy (Class of 2014, a former ICANN Fellow and NextGen participant and now a mentor), Brian Tshuma (Class of 2014, an NCUC member and funded by Guptas), Dr. Jerome Terpase Dooga (Class of 2013, Nigeria), and Tracy Kganakga (Class of 2016, South Africa).

The NextGen Programme

AfriSIG alumni selected for this programme, who are newcomers at ICANN, include Joash Ntega Moitui (Class of 2016, Kenya) and Mauricia Abdol (Class of 2016, South Africa). Joash and Mauricia gave presentations about the work/research they are involved in, as part of the requirements of the NextGen Programme.

Joash spoke about the role of social media in political violence and conflict mitigation in Kenya, discussing the use of social media in the violations that happened right after elections in Kenya, while Mauricia's thought-provoking presentation was entitled “The Ubuntu-centred ICANN multistakeholder model: Challenging the parameters of the multistakeholder model with a strategic injection of the ‘youth’ population in Africa for Africa”.

Alumni representing At-Large Structures

Some AfriSIG alumni have their organisations registered as At-Large Structures (ALS). They have benefited from ICANN support to attend their general meeting as well as ICANN59. Serge Parfait Goma (Class of 2016, Republic of Congo), who is representing an ALS, is very vocal and uses every opportunity to take the floor and raise issues in different meetings.

From the type of interventions or comments most of these fellows are making at the ICANN meeting, one can easily note that AfriSIG was useful in helping them understand the multistakeholder model of ICANN. Pierre Dandjino, vice president of Global Stakeholder Engagement for Africa, said during a Fellowship session that participants should not only enjoy the meeting or be vocal in various sessions, but they should also make sure they convey the messages and recommendations from this ICANN policy meeting to their constituencies and communities back home. He can count on the “Afrisiggers” present at ICANN to do just that.

If you are attending any other upcoming internet governance-related meetings this year, you will surely come across AfriSIG alumni, who will continue to speak about the valuable work each one of them is doing and about what Africa needs in terms of internet governance.

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