African School on Internet Governance: Networking with empowered actors from across Africa

By Leila Nachawati Publisher: APCNews     Madrid,

What is the internet governance landscape in Africa? How do national and regional policies affect the shaping of the internet in the continent? What are the African perspectives on issues like name management or the role of internet exchange points? Forty-five participants from civil society organisations and governments from all over Africa joined the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) on 21-26 November to discuss and come up with joint projects and ideas on these issues.

AfriSIG 2014, which took place in the island of Mauritius, was organised by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency’s e-Africa Programme. This was the second edition of the school, which included theoretical principles on human rights, history, politics and law relevant to internet users and intermediaries; analysis of regional and national policies; and a multi-stakeholder environment practicum.

“This school is a great way to learn and participate in internet governance debates, and to network with empowered actors from across Africa,” Khaled Fourati from the World Wide Web Foundation, and member of the AfriSIG faculty, said to APC.

“The NEPAD Agency values this school as a means of enhancing the capacity of stakeholders to engage in regional and global internet governance processes and spaces,” Towela Jere, programmes manager with the NEPAD e-Africa Programme and co-organiser of AfriSIG, added.

“The level of participation and the energy and enthusiasm of the participants at this year’s school was encouraging, and we hope that soon we will see them impact on their communities and countries positively with the knowledge that they have gained.”

In the words of Anriette Esterhuysen, APC’s executive director: “Conveying the range of concepts and processes related to internet governance in three and a half days is difficult, but AfriSIG2014 succeeded in giving participants an opportunity to experience the politics, complexity and challenges of distributed, multistakeholder internet governance. An internet governance that is democratic, inclusive, and ‘owned’ by all who use it.”

Participation in the school was not limited to the sessions taking place in Mauritius, but was expanded through the discussions taking place on social media, mostly through the #AfriSIG2014 hashtag on Twitter, and participants’ blog posts and interviews on the AfriSIG website.

  • Nhlanhla Ngwenya, from the Media Institute of Southern Africa, told us about promoting freedom of expression and access to information in Zimbabwe, and the country’s latest GISWatch report findings.
  • Wellington Radu, head of programmes at Media Monitoring Africa, highlighted the role of media monitoring in democracy building.
  • Brenda Kite, rural projects manager of the Women of Uganda Network, shared her first internet governance experience.
  • Dorothy Mudavanhu, from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, highlighted her learning on cyber security and human rights protection at AfriSIG in AfriSIG: the Real Deal.
  • Gbenga Sesan, from Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, wrote a blog post entitled African School on Internet Governance 2014: Defining priorities and addressing capacity gaps.
  • Michael Graaf, from the Right to Know campaign, wondered about the importance of peer-to-peer name services as a game changer in internet governance.
  • Maggie Hazvinei Mapondera, from Just Associates Southern Africa, reflected on the Trials of a Confused Feminist.
  • Michael Ilishebo, from the Zambia National Police, wondered what internet governance has to do with law enforcement, and shared the answer in A Tiny Dot on the Beach.
  • Tarryn Booysen, from APC’s Women Rights Programme, shared her AfriSIG 2014 journey, which ended with the following words:

    “In the future, internet governance will be a clash of cultures. Governments vs. Communities, Hierarchies vs. Networks, Laws vs. Code, Top down vs. Bottom up. Are we ready?”

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