The 10th Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF23) calls for multi-stakeholder collaboration and joint convenings in delivering Internet access.
Speaking at a high-level panel discussion Wednesday, Ms Grace Githaiga, CEO and Convenor KICTANet alongside Ms. Emma Inamutila Theofelus, Namibia Deputy Minister for Information Communication & Technology (ICT), Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative and Mr. Vladimir Garay, Advocacy Director, Derechos Digitales, noted that:
“We need to recognize that, unfortunately, the nature of the internet requires a multi-stakeholder role to collectively regulate it. The government must embrace public participation and support from other stakeholders to effectively build a sustainable internet.”
“As KICTANet, we have held joint convenings focusing on cybersecurity, data protection, and the broadband report. The Kenya Internet Governance Forum is our flagship program. Through the forum, we discuss and see how to fit issues into our local context,” she added.
Ms. Theofelus, who spoke about the level of Internet penetration in Namibia, pointed out the huge cost involved in developing infrastructure and the need for government and political will.
“Rolling out infrastructure is difficult and expensive. We have put in place the conditions for licensing and investment from the government. There has been some political will. This includes the Universal Service Fund. We also have one of the most liberated media on the continent,” she said.
On his part, Vladimir stressed the importance of Internet access saying connectivity supports human rights.
“People want high quality, affordable and secure internet connectivity. The Internet is expensive and limited. We need to acknowledge and address internet connectivity gaps.”
‘Gbenga also urged stakeholders to contribute towards efforts aimed at ensuring Internet accessibility.
“If all stakeholders don’t get their hands dirty, we will come back here 10 years later to discuss the same issues,” he added.
Paradigm Initiative is hosting the Pan-African bilingual event in collaboration with the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) established under Strathmore University.
KICTANet is a multi-stakeholder think tank in Kenya for ICT policy and regulation.
CIPIT is an evidence-based research and training Centre based at Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.
The forum, whose theme is Building A Sustainable Internet For All, will bring together representatives from government, non-governmental organizations, academia, media, funding partners, the United Nations, the technical community, and the private sector within the digital ecosystem.
The forum is hosting 70 sessions with partners from 48 countries globally.
At the forum, Paradigm Initiative is hosting key partners from Internews, the Global Digital Inclusion Partnership, Derechos Digitales, the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), Inclusive Tech Group, Access Now, Data Privacy Brazil, Defend Defenders, Youth and Society, Tech Societal, the Global Network Initiative, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, MTN, and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law among others.
The event has been sponsored by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Ford Foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, Google, the Open Technology Fund and the Global Network Initiative (GNI).
To follow more discussions, here is the live stream link to the event.