Experiencing the African possibilities, through AfriSIG 2016

The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) 2016 is one of the most impactful programmes I have attended. I am grateful for the training that will definitely enhance my work around advocacy for open and affordable internet access. The School also enabled informal networking of participants for potential collaborations on projects at grassroots level, which is something I intend to follow up. The School created a platform where fellow countries were able to interact with each other and find a common understanding in realisation of a common goal. Thato & some AfriSIG participants

The AfriSIG participants

It was wonderful seeing African brothers and sisters in one room discussing issues related to internet governance and its potential to liberate the continent and address social and economic challenges. Truly this is my first time working closely with such a diverse group of people from Africa. The experience, love and understanding were beyond what is known in our societal stereotype. For me it turns out like we all want the same things regardless of our backgrounds and experiences, some vocal and a few maybe digesting the entire experience – as they say, “Silence is golden.”

Lessons learned

Availability of ICT infrastructure does not necessarily translate to economic and social growth of communities, unless access is affordable for users.

For innovation to propel, there needs to be a seamless flow and exchange of information amongst interconnected communities and countries. Any hindrance to this exchange of ideas and knowledge will slow down if not prohibit the much needed rapid innovation development.

Moving forward

My goal before in attending AfriSIG 2016 was to enhance my understanding of internet governance and the role that internet governance players can take in order to make internet more accessible and more affordable. Post the School, now I intend to also collaborate with fellow participants in the following fields:

  • Local and regional content development and integration

  • Wi-Fi community networks for social and economic development

  • Research and development centres (for training, workshops and innovation development)

  • Internet governance workshops at grassroots level.

I deeply feel like I have found a new family and only wish that we keep the same spirit we had during AfriSIG 2016 in order to translate lessons learned to practical outcomes in our countries and regions. A big show of appreciation for the work of APC, NEPAD and all stakeholders who made it possible. The youthful class of AfriSIG kept on uttering that Africa will rise, which resonated hope and unity amongst a lot of us.

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