From 6 to 10 December 2021, the 16th annual IGF meeting was hosted by the Government of Poland in Katowice, under the overarching theme: “Internet United”. The hybrid event including on-site and on-line participation, featured high level sessions and interesting debates for the different Internet Governance interested parties including but not limited to African Stakeholders.
The session held on Day 3 and titled “Africa Internet Governance main Stakeholders” featured a number of NCUC active members from the African community and focused its discussions on the hosting of the next global IGF which will be held in the African continent, more specifically, Ethiopia.
The panel convened by Mr. Wisdom Donkor, Head of the Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation AODIRF, and moderated by Ms. Mary Uduma, Chairperson from the African IGF and West Africa School of Internet Governance, highlighted the growing national regional initiatives for expanding connectivity and tackling issues of access. The session also explored how best support can be rallied for the host country and how issues from the continent can be presented at the global IGF platform. The key takeaways with details of the session are listed at the end of the report.
In his speech, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam Director of Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA highlighted key themes to be presented in the next global IGF to be held inAfrica. The themes included building an effective African agency for Sustainable Governance as well as building momentum around use of the internet for sustainable development and E-Commerce. Mr. Jean Paul went on to add the need for solutions developed to serve Africans citing capacity building programs like the African Girls Can Code program in collaboration with the ITU and UN Women which exposed young Africans to existing opportunities. He further mentioned governments’ role in creating enabling environments for a maximised use of the internet.
Mr. Chengatai Masango, Head of Office, IGF Programme and Technology Manager and Ms. Anja Gengo, NRIS Engagement Coordinator , both speaking on behalf of the IGF Secretariat assured their preparedness to support the hosting of the IGF in Ethiopia and shared that the secretariat has high expectations of the host country and its commitment upon their coming back from their assessment mission. Ms. Gengo also shared her hope for robust capacity building tapping into the youthful and vibrant African community.
Ms. Huria Ali Mahdi, Ethiopian Minister of State, Ministry of Innovation and Technology on behalf of the host country spoke about her country’s preparedness stating that Ethiopia is ready to host the global IGF and will focus on critical questions affecting the continent. The minister added that this requires collaborating with like-minded African platforms and working with various governments and stakeholders through creating a platform to engage in all preparations. Ms. Huria Ali Mahdi pointed out the challenges related to infrastructure; connectivity and power, and called on African nations and UNDESA to assist in tackling those issues.
Mr Mactar Seck shared UNECA’s readiness to collaborate with the IGF Secretariat and the host country in Ethiopia.Mr. Sech stressed that the 2022 Global IGF is one where Africans not only attend and participate but also where Africans are fully involved and tapping into the diverse expertise and regulatory frameworks around the continent. Mr. Seck added the need for a committee to work on sessions and events while enhancing the discussions on issues affecting the internet in Africa.
Mr. Markus Kummer, Chair of the IGFSA Executive Committee, highlighted the importance of the NRIS in playing decisive roles and impacting national policies and discussions. Kummer shared the association’s belief in multistakeholderism for a better, global and interoperable internet.
Ms. Anriette Esterhuysen, IGF MAG Chair, encouraged African stakeholders and especially youth to organise a/ Day 0 for Africa during the next global IGF to be held in Ethiopia. Estherhuysen also shed light on the importance of Translation services to be provided during the next edition which either UN or UNECA could offer.
Ms. Mary Uduma, the session moderator, opened the floor to the on-line and on-site audience to ask questions and make recommendations. The suggestions ranged from requesting more involvement of the youth in the organisation and preparation for the IGF, to an urgent call for integrating People with disabilities, as well as creating a platform for parliamentarians in Africa to fully participate. The speakers called on the young people to drive change and to be the voice of the continent towards the achievement of the agenda 2063.
Ms. Mary Uduma concluded by stressing the importance of the technical and logistical layers of organizing events and announced the formation of an IGF 2022 Task Force for further and better collaboration between the host country, organisers and different African Stakeholders.
By Ines Hfaiedh and Liliy Edinam