Generation.africa on their high at the 6th IGF held in Nairobi, Kenya

Oct. 5, 2011The 6th Internet Governance Forum with the theme “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation” just concluded in Nairobi with an emphatic call for the support of the open, inclusive and transparent multi-stakeholder model and dialogue that has guided the governance of internet for the last few years.

The most successful IGF meeting ever, over 2000 delegates and more than 300 remote participants from across the globe, including our generation.africa team and volunteers; plus, representatives of governments, civil societies, international organizations, the Internet community, the media, the private sector and the technical community descended on Nairobi to discuss various policy and political challenges and other emerging issues affecting the internet.

Top on every stakeholder’s mind were issues such as cybersecurity, mobile internet and cloud computing, accessibility and diversity, policy issues affecting the domain ecosystem, management of critical internet resources, future internet governance amongst others.

This was also the first IGF held in Sub Saharan Africa and provided an opportunity for the African continent to bring its challenges to the fore and help shape the internet governance dialogue.

Several calls were made for the reaffirmation of the multi-stakeholder model which is currently perceived to be under serious attack from various entities – especially governments and inter-governmental bodies.

“It’s the multistakeholder model that’s been the catalyst for the advancement of the technology, for the advancement and development of standards, for the development of policies, and for the development of the global governance structures, such as this important body and this forum that we are in today. So the catalyst behind the Internet is the multistakeholder model, and it’s helped to deliver this miracle for mankind.” Rod Beckstrom, the CEO of ICANN said during the opening ceremony.

Indeed, DotConnectAfrica would like to lend its voice to the debate and reaffirm our support for multi-stakeholderism, which is a core part of our proposed governance model for DotAfrica.

The sixth IGF included hundreds of workshops where delegates from various nationalities discussed different challenges affecting the Internet globally.

Our own generation.africa representative, Gideon Rop raised the issue  of the African Union’s prospective application to ICANN during one of the ccTLD workshops: “Does the AU have a legitimacy to apply for dotafrica?”, he probed aloud but received no answers.

The IGF acknowledged and discussed mobile internet as an emerging Internet governance issue. This was a huge step forward given the tremendous growth and potential of mobile technologies in Africa in the last few years with over 300 million Africans now having access to mobile telephones.

The issue of cybersecurity was another major discussion point during the IGF. Delegates engaged in deep dialogue on ways of safeguarding the global internet from cyber threats.

Attention was also given to the rapid depletion of blocks of IPv4 addresses with the Asia Pacific being the region that’s worst affected. Delegates acknowledged however that Africa, due to its current low demand for IP addresses, was in a unique position to seamlessly transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

The challenge of accessibility was also noted with several workshops dedicated to dialogue on making the internet accessible to vulnerable users thus contributing to a more inclusive information society.

Issues of young people on the internet were also on the table during the 6th IGF where the youth were very vocal in debunking myths about young people and the internet, discussing privacy issues on social media, and outlining challenges and opportunities to access to internet resources. As one young delegate put it, “The internet is not an addiction; it’s all my favorite things in one place.”

Samuel Ochanji, DCA Project Coordinator and gen.africa lead commented on youth workshop: “Youth understand their responsibilities as online citizens, censorship is not the way forward but young people eventually figure out what’s the acceptable and best practice online as they use internet constantly and interact with more people. Perhaps we might need a digital eraser to erase our “past sins” on the web as we mature with use.”.  In the later Africa IGF (AFIGF)  workshop, Ochanji also raised the issue of youth, asking “How does the AFIGF plan to build capacity amongst young Africans concerning IGF issues and help incorporate the voices and participation of young Africans in IGF discussions?”

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Various players in the private sector including Google, AT&T, and Safaricom submitted their views on the policy, technological and financial implications and opportunities brought forth by the advancements in the internet.

DCA joins the global internet community in lauding the host Kenya and the participants of the 6th IGF for the fruitful and rich discussions on the challenges, opportunities and future of the internet that have been undertaken in Nairobi . We hope that these resolutions and discussions will inform policy development work by the various stakeholders and decision makers involved in implementing the internet infrastructure and governance processes and that these resolutions will lead to actionable plans that make the internet more accessible, more secure and freer  for every user on the planet.

DCA looks forward to joining the community during another multi-stakeholder public meeting in Africa, the ICANN 42 Conference in Dakar, Senegal, which we are have also sponsored, and where again we will lend our views on the challenges affecting the African Internet community and also help move this unique and successful multi-stakeholder process forward on a sustainable basis.

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DCA is a not-for-profit, non-partisan org incorporated in Mauritius Africa & will sponsor, establish & operate a TLD registry with global recognition & regional significance dedicated to the needs of Pan-African &African community. DCA Reg.ID.CT8710DCA90