Central Africa IGF

16 September 2010 - A Other on Regional & National Initiatives in Vilnius, Lithuania

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I think this involves the central African, yes.  Are you from Central Africa today? 

Yeah, now I'm from Central Africa.  But I was just suggesting, is it okay, maybe AfriNIC also comes to the table?  Idea also that it gives us what AfriNIC can speak to. 

By all means.  Why not?  All right.  So any concrete suggestions?  How can we take this forward?  I've asked two questions, creating connections.  How do we create those linkages?  Secondly, how do we -- yes, sir.  Secondly, how do we give the eco to these processes. 

AMBROSE RUYOOKA:  Thank you very much.  My name is Ambrose again from Uganda. 
I wish I were in the session, Russia, USA and UK ideas and we get experiences how they are doing things.  But what we need to do is take a different perspective with IGF.  There is a proposal that we extend the mandate of the IGF. 
So at this time we have at the top level, instead of the IGF at the UN, let something be expressed today that explains the role of governments. 
I believe our governments can do some budgets over these activities in our countries.  The question is what should be the role of Governments?  Let us have it captured clearly.  At this time we are willing to extend the mandate of the IGF.  Let the message now trickle down, because we should look at Government as a strategic partner in moving this process forward.  If you have a strategic partner, his role is always clearly identified. 
I like the way the European Union has taken this on.  They are meeting, the East African parliament member, the members are meeting the members of the European parliament this afternoon.  And from the discussions with the members of the European parliament, you see they have entrenched within the planning processes, they put some budgets aside for separately the process.  Let's start from the top, we send the message down.  It is captured by our governments. 
Then we have a government as partners. 

Thank you very much.  Thank you for that concrete suggestion.  Any other suggestions, comments?  Adiel, any comments? 
(Pause)

ADIEL AKPLOGAN:  Thank you.  I'm wondering, why don't we try something different, something maybe a bit more creative, and innovative, perhaps engaging the business community, where we show some incentive for them to join, or to help, or the universities with students, other communities, West African community of the whole, African community who live outside the continent. 
So instead of relying on what we used to do before, perhaps we should say, all right, we have tried those things and trying them again probably won't get different outcomes.  We might as well think out of the box and do something different. 
If there were some incentives, people would contribute and would join, and GFs would grow.  On the other hand, if there is no incentive there is no reason for people to join, of course.  The numbers would stay the same. 

BEN AKOH:  Let me throw it back at you.  You raise some important points.  It always comes down to the question of incentives.  What would you think would be something enticing enough for the business community, for instance, to want to engage in a national governance process within their countries specifically? 
I think that is key.  If we can identify that, perhaps the process that we can use to engage them, it would be very useful. 
Let me, maybe you want to answer that question, and then we can talk about a few more things, because I'm also beginning to feel the inadequacies of civil society in terms of engaging with Government in their countries, and that perhaps civil society hasn't, is not seen as a partner to governance in countries, and therefore, it becomes a difficult process for them.  It becomes a big mandate for them to engage with Government. 
And that in itself is an inadequacy.  That makes it difficult for governance policy process in a number of the countries that we are living.  Coupled with the fact that civil society also do not have the funds to do these kinds of things. 
So what becomes the incentive?  What can we throw out as a carrot to companies, to other institutions, to engage?  What is it that we have. 

I think in all due respect there are a lot of things perhaps we can explore.  As I was coming in you were talking about the survey.  I wasn't hearing what was the reason for the survey but there is a lot of surveys, lot of research that can go on.  Maybe these can be capitalized changed into ways of generating income.  Nowadays, knowledge is economy.  Lot of money is made from knowledge. 
If for example the surveys and those reports can be sent back to the communities and people can see actually we are doing something that is useful for people, maybe that is one reason. 
The other issue I keep hearing was the idea of civil societies and things with the governments and so on.  I live outside Africa although I travel lately to the country.  To me, in all due respect with authorities, I don't really have a lot of positive things to say about African governments.  This is my personal view.  After 50 years we know our record.  Now, on the other hand, the broadband sector and civil societies and institution, educational institution, there is lot to be said.  We have seen what they have done and what they are contributing but nevertheless, the bridge is needed. 
We have to still get the bridge working, between the two working.  How do we do it?  It is a challenge.  I still believe it's possible.  It is doable.  I'm optimistic it can be done.  There are smart African people outside in Asia and Europe and America.  I know quite a few in Malaysia and Canada.  Why don't we talk to them, how do we do it?  Perhaps you can use technology.  You can do it by the Web or E-mailing, some other mechanism. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you so much.  Adiel, do you want to make a comment? 

ADIEL AKPLOGAN:  Yes.  I think our friends (off microphone) something very important, and back by what you said.  The word partnership is very important.  Governments, civil society, private sector has to work as partner, and the strong partnership has to be created within those three entities.  The partnership must be based on one thing fundamentally.  Use of the Internet (off microphone) we want to use Internet. 
How best can we use the Internet?  How best can Internet become a development tool?  Because that is what we are seeing for past 20 years.  How do we translate that?  That is probably something that Government can easily understand.  Civil society can easily understand.  Business can understand.  To give an example, the Internet governance, West African IGF we organise last year in Ghana, it was formed partly by AfriNIC, 50 percent of the budget but rest was sponsored by private sponsors.  We did it.  Big scale this year.  I keep telling the team that was in charge of organising that our role as Africa should be to facilitate to start-up.  We don't want to be the continuous forming of organisation of regional IGF.  We want to create the momentum, and leave it to the community, each region to find the way of forming. 
I really believe that Government and regulator in those regions can form and are willing to from the little bit experience I have.  But in many case, they lack the (off microphone) probably because the approach is always about, we are the civil society.  You have to do this.  That is not what we want.  We have to ground the partnership. 
What is the common thing that we are working toward?  Clearly this is where we want Government to help.  Not to tell Government this is how they have to do it.  This is how we want you to contribute.  This is what we can bring as civil society.  The amount of time, this is how we can mobilize the diaspora.  This is how we can look for sponsorship.  They are interested.  How can we translate in more simple word, so that it can be the result of this meeting, just saying that for that common goal. 
We have Government representative here.  They can also tell us how to do that and approach that has to be taken. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you, Adiel.  Emila, did you want to say something? 

I want him to say his name because they didn't mention his name and where he is from. 

I'm from Somalia but actually (off microphone) CM pending back and forth. 

BEN AKOH:  You are African and you are leading the Internet.  Bhadu wants to make a comment. 

I want to, in Central Africa we have also the similar problems, very difficult to have a dialogue with the Government, difficult also to have dialogue with private sector.  And it is difficult also to have a way to use media for, to inform public.  The big problem that I tell you, difficult to come here.  We organise a workshop in Congo and how many countries took part in this workshop?  Only two, two countries:  USA and Congo. 
In Central Africa we have relevant countries and among participants, only some delegation from Congo and from DRC, nobody.  This is a very difficult to discuss, and to have a way to stand up a dialogue about Internet Governance, even with the programmes or the project about ICT. 
In country, in DRC, until today we don't have ICT legislation, don't have a good implementation.  Regulator doesn't have the power in the country.  That is a problem.  But I follow what you do in West Africa, in East Africa, in South Africa.  It is a big difference with Central Africa.  Big difference, I tell you.  But I think now, just to say if we can rethinking the way, how we can regard our cooperation between regions and return some actors, like between the three or four regions. 
It is also the way to see how we can cooperate with African from diaspora, it is also the way to see how we can also reinforce agencies in the process, because the problem was so, if we wanted to do something in that way, it is difficult to have the Forum, see is the problem.  That is what I wanted to share with you. 

Thank you, Bhadu. 

LILLIAN NALWOGA:  Thank you.  My name is Lillian Nalwoga and I work with civil society and I come from Kampala, Uganda.  We hosted this year's East African Internet Governance Forum.  I was just thinking that maybe this discussion would have come after we have all had our presentations, because I'm sure there are members who are not here, but who would love to contribute to this discussion. 
Just to contribute to us going on, we have a similar problem, and I think right now I'm saying is cross cutting across all the regions, central, west and East Africa, the need to involve stakeholders in particular, the private sector. 
During this year's IGF East African IGF, we did not have representation from the private sector.  When we talk about private sector, we are looking at the ISPs, the Internet service providers.  We are looking at the Telcos, that are involved in the actual providing us Internet.  There are none there.  And one of the recommendations we had was, maybe that time we are using Internet Governance should be redefined. 
When you talk about governance, it echoes different meanings to different people.  Maybe you could have something like Internet development Forum.  It catches you.  We are discussing about developing the Internet, maybe it will involve involvement for more people, even people who are not interested actually in the Internet, to just be curious to know what is actually Internet development, isn't only Internet Governance because some participants feel that when, for instance, the regulator calls on the ISPs, and you are talking about governance, and these are who determine the cost, it sounds like, they are monitoring our operations so they tend to stay away. 
I'm thinking, we should stay until we present the east African reports so we view more on this discussion. 

BEN AKOH:  We apologize for having or extending the discussion into the other regions or to the Continental level without waiting for the other regions.  Within the programme, it is structured slightly differently.  I, honestly, I thought from the beginning that we would actually have an African discussion, as opposed to the sub regional discussion.  But the programme is structured slightly differently. 
Depending on how we answer or talk about this, have the discussions going forward, we would very much love to hear how East Africa is taking things, what their challenges are and how we be engaged as we go forward. 
I hope that we will all stay for that session.  But you did raise a very important point, which is how the IGF is framed at the national and regional level, is the name Internet Governance Forum repulsive of other stakeholders? 
Does it, in a way, keep them away from the process, because of the connotations that we have to governance from the region that we come from?  And maybe that requires for us to change the name slightly, so that it reflects more participation. 
I think this was something that was raised within the first plenary, at the opening, when we had West African participation.  Indeed, this was a comment that came from the West African Forum, where we thought that governance should not be a part of the process, the name of it, not because it's not discussions on governance, but maybe it's, it will bring about more inclusion if we took out the governance from it. 
But that is something else we can all talk about as we go on. 
There are very concrete steps that Adiel had mentioned earlier, and in terms of taking the discussion forward, would like to maybe begin to look at that.  How can we from this Forum as we are, how do you suggest you would want for us to take what we have talked about here forward to your countries and your region?  Is a small report from here sufficient enough to send to your countries, and to your regional governance Forum? 
Can we do that?  If we did that, who would be the right people in your countries for us to send this out to?  I think those are some of the questions, perhaps we might want to answer.  Again, it all comes down to volunteering at this particular point, because there is no mechanism for us to actually move things beyond the discussions that we are having.  We don't have a structure for it. 
So the question comes down to us.  What is the best way to move what we have been talking about here to the next level, to our governments, to our countries, to our national and regional IGF structures?  Let's spend a few minutes to talk about that. 
Then hopefully we can hear what the East Africans have to say.  Any comments around those?  Yes?  Then we will come back to Binga.  Emila, you want to pass the mic? 

I think this is a follow-up to what I was saying before.  Perhaps apart from linking with the business of the investors, how about also looking at other companies and other businesses who are doing work in Africa?  Like the big names, the Googles, and the Ciscos and so on, they might be also interested.  I'm not really sure. 
There could be even some synergy by working with them.  There might be something that they can also gain by working with IGFs and so on.  To me, I'm always interested in looking at something a little different than the normal things we already do.  Because as I travel around the world, I see a lot of interesting ideas.  And I say how come we didn't think about this in Africa?  Why didn't we do this?  When I was in Kenya for the (off microphone) I was listening to the Google people, they were in Nigeria and elsewhere.  That is good but it might not be necessarily more advantageous to us.  It might be more to them than actually Africa, they might be gaining more than we are actually gaining.  If we are serious about this, we can talk to this more serious and say look, let's share the advantage here.  Not only IT guys but also Nokias and all other mobile companies that do business in Africa. 
I'm still interested in this collaboration, where we can work with these companies, and so on. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you so much.  There clearly is an avenue for collaboration with the other international companies that are interested in Internet public policy.  Binga. 

KILYOBAS BINGA:  Just to the question of who exactly to speak with in each of the countries, I want to quickly raise that for Nigeria in particular I know there is an office with the Telecom regulator and there is also an office with the IT agency.  I've tried discussing that with someone from regulatory office this morning, to see if there was a way they could work together, so we won't have the usual problem of who exactly to talk to.  Maybe one of the things to also do is since eco is involved in this and governments from the from the top down, to maybe it a mandate to have a focus person.  We hope that it won't be difficult, person won't be the deputy of assistants, deputies, personal assistant, somebody who can listen to the issues, maybe also be able to make decisions or something like that. 

Thank you very much.  Mr. Peprah. 

I think a process has already been started.  Adiel indicated that AfriNIC has written to the Government and the regulators, only last week, as to how to try and get some collaboration going.  But we really need to think outside the box this time and let the initiative come from the other side, more than looking to the establishment to drive it.  If you do that, you haven't achieved much.  I think the initiative must come from the civil society, the Internet service providers, the youth groups. 
That is where the initiative must come from.  They must believe in themselves enough to make the right approaches and get the attention of the regulators and the Government to be part of what it is that they are trying to do. 
Otherwise, it will be back to the same old stuff.  The Government comes up with a policy.  The regulator puts in regulations.  And then, you know, still top/down.  The initiative must really be, we must encourage the civil society and these are the groups, really engage Government.  And like I said for my part, I stand ready to support within the authority any initiative that will come to try and move it forward.  I'm sure the various agencies will do the same, once the value proposition or the benefits is clearly articulated. 

Thank you very much.  Yes, sir. 

I still say what I said earlier.  Who we send the reports to, if we do it, is going to be an assembly, who is in that assembly.  Who is in the UN assembly?  Are they aware about Internet Governance?  The group representative from your country, I want to be in this assembly.  Are they aware if this is put on the table.  Or are they just saying yes or no.  So I think whichever, whoever we send the reports to, those should be the key people, because going to come before them, they are going to extend the mandate.  But are they aware the issues they are extending the mandate for? 
Let's take it that, we send them the issues.  We say we have been having the IGF, and we have history and we put the background and we say in the next few months there is going to be assembly addressing issues.  And also I would like to see represented in the mandate issues that are from our regions and as simple as that. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you very much. 
Can I make a suggestion and a request, and that request is who wants to be responsible for drafting the report of our discussion here?  And then we will build a team together, and use that team to be the initial focal points to the regional IGFs who would further disseminate that report to their country IGFs, using the structures that they already have. 
Then we would also tag it, the regional economic commissions and some of these countries, as well as the regulators, as well as the EU at a Continental level.  The question is for volunteers for the moment.  I'm sure when we put structure to this, we would have some form of incentive that would come to this. 
But for now, for the moment, in terms of getting the report from this, please would like some volunteers that might be able to help.  We already have the transcript of this.  All we need to do is build a very key and concrete points of the session that we will put together in a report, and then send out.  Already have one volunteer, Lillian.  Thank you very much.  Binga.  To balance the agenda, thank you very much, Madame.  And to overbalance the agenda and tilt it to the female side, I'd like to have Emila over there.  Right?  That is five of you.  Thank you very much.  That is quite impressive.  Thank you. 
I want to ask one question, maybe raise one final point.  So we don't leave our East African colleagues behind, rather central African colleagues behind.  Badum has raised a lot of points in terms of engaging with the central African colleagues.  Central African IGF.  Those are critical points.  I would like to make sure we bring them up to the same level that the eastern and west and central Africans are.  What I also suggest in terms of doing this, bringing the central Africans to the level of the east and West Africans.  Adiel, is there any kind of support we might be able to look at from central, that would perhaps centralize central African process?  That is one way. 
In terms of structure also, leading up to say November, 2011, where we will hopefully have the Kenyon global IGF, what do you think we should do in terms of concrete steps going there?  Adiel. 

ADIEL AKPLOGAN:  Yes, I think the problem in Central Africa is not new.  I think we also notice the participation, the low level of participation from Central Africa.  If we can do anything to help, at least to create the momentum, and then let the process move, we are happy to do that.  We can talk about that for 2011. 
But again, what we cannot do is create the process that we will maintain in the long term.  We can only be facilitator, and then let the community locally find the way of sustaining it. 
That we can talk about later. 
I want to add something that Mr. Pepra said.  We have not directed the discussion in that part, is the young generation, the academic sector, our universities, the FaceBook generation.  Those are people who are using the Internet today and they know what the Internet bring into their life and did for their lives. 
I think it could probably be worth trying to reach out to them, what is behind the tool that they are using today, which is Internet Governance actually, because part of the Internet Governance is what define the framework that allow those applications to be developed, that allow the protocol to be developed. 
Can we probably add into our different process of local Internet governance Forum, of regional Internet Forum, puts more emphasis on involving students, involving academic sector in general, more formally, not by considering them part of the civil society, but as one of the, one group of stakeholders, and extending invitation formally to them, involving them into the different research, talk about survey, talk about publishing those things, statistic information, hope they can bring their experience in there, because that would be tomorrow's -- they are the one who tomorrow, that probably that is something would be also....

BEN AKOH:  Thank you very much, Adiel.  Well, I think we have talked about a whole lot of stuff and we have actually set up a process in terms of how we would like to take this forward. 
We will create reports from this discussion, and then pass it on to the necessary stakeholders in the regional, as well as national forums or fora. 
We didn't talk too much about the process leading up to 2011, the global IGF.  I think that is important.  Maybe we should just have one or two minutes to talk about that.  It is a process.  It means that we must have a national discussion prior to the global Forum.  It means that also we should have a regional discussion prior to the global Forum. 
They require setting commitments from us, from our participants and our government and everybody else, all the stakeholders, new stakeholders like we are trying to define right now.  So there are a lot of, there is a lot of work we will still do.  It is important that we recognize all of those work leading up to that point. 
For our drafting committee, some of the recommendations would be that we would like to see very concrete steps defined in view of the Continental Forum that would come up in Kenya, that relates to national and regional preparations towards that. 
We would like to see national processes that would lead to national and regional processes that will lead to the global IGF.  Yes. 

Are we making suggestions?  Or do the regions already have things they want to do towards 2011?  Because it's one thing to suggest, are these going to be suggestions? 

What we will do is, we will capture the report of this session, and the recommendation from what we have talked about is that we would like to see in the report as one of the recommendations of the report, similar to all the other recommendations we have made, while we have discussed, that there is a process leading up to the Kenyon IGF. 
One key factor for participation like we have found has been visas, especially for African participants coming to this particular IGF.  I've heard of, for most of the ones we were trying to facilitate about five to six different visa cases that were never positive.  They just didn't happen at all, in order that they could be here at this IGF. 
This is something I think we would want to raise prior to the Kenyon IGF, so that people from other parts of the continent that would be at the Kenyon IGF would actually have an easy visa process.  I don't think that is too much of a call to make, as part of our recommendation going out of here. 
The point is important that facilitation must happen, and facilitation, one of the key facilitation is that we have the logistics clearly sorted out prior to the IGF itself. 
I don't know if there are other comments that would like to have before we close the session.  I think I'd like to at this point close the session on the central and West Africa, and then allow our East African participants to take on the podium and continue their discussion.  But any final words, Adiel. 

ADIEL AKPLOGAN:  Just a suggestion in how we can leverage on what's happened before.  Is it possible for us to use the west African IGF experience of this year and East African experience of this year and past year to drive, I don't know, two, three, four-page briefing document that explain how the process was, what was the process and share that with our partners that we want, like Government, regulators.  This is what we have done.  This is how the process has evolved.  These are the lessons learned.  This is where we want from you, so they can have a reference if they start thinking of getting more involved for instance, or even private sector, because I think they are good experience. 
We don't have to find ourself in November talking about the same issue.  We will go home.  Everybody will go and start their own thing.  We get together here again and talk about the exactly same issue without solution, so can we put together some kind of lesson learned from the original, and local IGF, that we have already organised, and use that as a roadmap for 2011, which we share across region actually. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you very much, Adiel.  That is a concrete point and useful.  Emila, one more point. 

I wanted to respond to Adiel that for West Africa we are going to draft a report on the process that, for the CTS process so I think it is something we will be able to share with all the other Afrikaans. 

BEN AKOH:  Thank you very much.  We will definitely have those reports.  And we will try and send them as much as possible to all the different partners, all the different institutions, our stakeholders.  Thank you very much for participating in such a lively discussion.  I think it is useful.  We are quite excited we had the number of people, participants in the room that we had, and for all your contributions.  We had different stakeholders, civil society, regulators, Government.  That is quite useful.  Thank you so much for this.  Thank you, Adiel for coming to share this place with me.  And for the rest of you that participated, my name is Ben Akoh.  I'm very much an African still, and definitely will continue in this process with us. 
We will be sending out a lot of documents from here.  Please do not leave.  We need you to sign and just registration before you leave, give us your name and your E-mail address, and perhaps your affiliation.  We will try and get and make sure the report from this session gets to you, and also that you help us in terms of facilitating connections at your countries with the different stakeholders that we need to be engaged with. 
Once again thank you very much.  Have a good afternoon. 
(Applause)
(End of Session.)


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