Grace Githaiga giving her opening remarks at the 2022 Kenya IGF

Remarks by Grace Githaiga, Convenor, KICTANet on the auspicious occasion of the 15th edition of the Kenya IGF.

On behalf of KICTANet, Welcome to the 15th edition of Kenya IGF.

About KICTANet
The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) is a multistakeholder think tank for ICT policy and regulation. The network acts as a catalyst for reform in the ICT sector and is guided by four pillars: policy advocacy, stakeholder engagement, capacity building, and research. KICTANet’s guiding philosophy is that of encouraging synergies for ICT policy-related activities and initiatives. The network provides mechanisms and a framework for continuing cooperation, engagement and collaboration in ICT matters among industry, technical community, academia, media, development partners, civil society and government.

Activities for Kenya IGF
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability, and development are discussed.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximise the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and contribute to capacity building for Internet governance.

The National Country forums such as we are holding today are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to sub-regional then regional level, and finally culminating in a report that is presented at the global level during the Global IGF. And this year, the global event will take place in Ethiopia in November.

This year’s global IGF theme is ‘Resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future’. The Kenya IGF theme is aligned to the global IGF theme and will respond to the local context including the upcoming 2022 general election. The following are the activities for the Kenya IGF:

  1. Began with the KeSIG which took two weeks and is an annual training to induct new and fresh voices into the ICT policy-making process.
    In collaboration with GIZ, we conducted a three-day women’s digital security Training of Trainers. 20 women aged between 18-34 years were drawn from social justice organizations, civil society and the private sector.
  2. A Roundtable Meeting on Women’s Privacy and Data Protection in the context of Elections included the launch of a policy brief on privacy concerns for women. In the afternoon, a Community of Practice Event was held on Module 5 of the Digital Enquirer Kit on Online Gender-Based Violence.
  3. In collaboration with Meta Platforms Inc, held an engagement with over 50 representatives to discuss privacy concerns on online platforms for Kenyans.
  4. In collaboration with CIPESA, we launched two study reports. One on Disinformation Pathways, in the electioneering period, and the other on data governance.
  5. In collaboration with the UK Digital Access Program partners, ICTA, KFCB APDK and British Council we conducted training on cyber hygiene with women, Persons living with Disabilities, and youth from Mathare, Kibera and Mukuru. This training is part of our cyber hygiene campaign to equip marginalised and digitally excluded communities with practical skills on how to stay safe online.
  6. We also held the Kenya Youth IGF, which seeks to bring the voices of the youth into internet governance
  7. Later today, we shall have a Fireside event which shall be the launch of the Digital Readiness of e-Government in Kenya, which we have collaborated with the GIZ, and the Estonia E-governance academy
  8. And the culmination of the events is today’s Kenya IGF whose, which is the 15th edition, and its theme is resilient internet for a shared and sustainable common future.

The theme: ‘Resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future’.
I want us to pose and reflect on the journey of the internet in Kenya which we can trace way back 30 years. Years ago, the main concerns were access and affordability. Then we moved to how to roll out e-government services with KRA making it mandatory to file taxes online, confirming that the Internet had now entered into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Discourse then moved to content creation to diversity and moderation, harms and risks arising from Internet use, such as cybersecurity, privacy, hate speech and disinformation. Then COVID-19 happened and boom! Seasons changed! More people including school children, doctors, pharmacies, – and even those who had been reluctant to embrace ICTs, moved online, including moving the KIGF online in these two last years.

Now we are starting to see the need to address some of the emerging challenges for the public. For example, the need to make cyber hygiene an everyday normal practise akin to the way all of us learnt to automatically wash or sanitise our hands during covid. We also need to find ways to combat disinformation and fake news, promote responsible use of the Internet during elections, enhance data governance, and ensure digital inclusion and last-mile connectivity to ensure that no one is left behind etc.

More importantly, we need to continuously think, and debate about what the future of the internet should look like. We need to think of the unimagined technologies, that have yet to be developed, the good they propose and the new risks that they present. What are these things that we have not thought about? What will the future look like? Will we be moving to Metaverse? How do we prepare for this? How will the internet look like 10 to 20 years from now?

Ideas that come from this meeting are going to be critical for our kids, and future generations. For example, how generation Z is using the internet today, is so different from mine, and so will it be for the next generation.

The IGF is the place where these conversations commence and happen. The main outcome of the Kenya IGF is to maximise opportunities for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues through multistakeholderism. We have different stakeholders in this room drawn from the government, the private sector, CSOs etc (as defined in the WSIS Document of 2005). This, therefore, is an opportunity for us to reflect on the future—the unimagined and how well prepared we are for this unimagined future.

Appreciation for our sponsors
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), META Platform Inc, GIZ, Safaricom, UK Government Digital Access Program through UKAid, CIPESA, Huawei, TESPOK, KENIC, AFRINIC, IGFSA, and Liquid Technologies. Special thanks to CA, Meta Platfrom Inc, Safcom, and KENIC who have been part and parcel of #KeIGF for a couple of years.

We applaud all of you who are here for your time and for responding to the invite.

We look forward to stimulating, conversations. Conversations that will capture ideas that will get us to this unimagined future that will ensure that we have a ‘Resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future’

Karibuni!

Grace Githaiga is the convenor and CEO of KICTANet.
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