Kenya IGF Access and inclusivity panel

What are the key highlights of the 14th Kenya Internet Governance Forum?

The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTanet) has successfully concluded the 14th edition of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum, also #KeIGF2021.

Hosted in a hybrid fashion – the forum was themed; Internet United and was primed to enhance the universal access of the internet thereby reducing digital exclusion.

Speaking while opening the session, Grace Githaiga, Convenor at KICTAnet noted that the forum could not have come at a better time than now when the internet is becoming a fundamental need and right for humans. She said, “I welcome you all to KeIGF2021, purposed to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance and related issues.” She added that the internet creates opportunities to share best practices and experiences.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum KeIGF2021’s was held to maximize opportunities for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues, to identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public and to contribute to capacity building for internet governance.

Speaking during her official keynote, Mercy Wanjau, the Acting DG at Communications Authority said, “Internet has been a critical tool for social change. Since the start of the C-19 pandemic, the internet has provided a solution to the challenges brought about. It has tremendously improved life in all aspects.”

During the whole day hybrid forum, a panel moderated by Hussein Ali Kassim, the Chairperson at KICTanet agreed discoursed the emerging regulation of content, data, and consumer rights especially with the proliferation of data as seen with the growing need to digitise operations in different sectors of life.

Ali’s panelists, Jon Fanzun, Swiss Digital Foreign Policy, Kui Kinyanjui, Head of Regulatory and Public Policy at Safaricom PLC, Immaculate Kassait, Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC), Patricia Muchiri, Communications Authority of Kenya, and Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook unanimously agreed that digital has given way for massive data that needs proper regulatory policies to guide the manner in which it is harvested, stored, used and shared.

“The Data Protection Act puts in place a legislation to secure the protection of data and privacy, the collection, use, and sharing of personal information to third parties,” said Kassait. She added that as more social and economic activities continue to get have a place online, the importance of privacy and data protection is increasingly needed.

Matters Inclusion, Universal Access, and Meaningful Connectivity were also discussed with Josephine Gauld, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya noting that although over half of the world population is now online, many people still lack the quality of access they need to use the internet’s most powerful features, such as online learning, video streaming, and telehealth.

“It’s time to raise the bar for internet access and aim for meaningful connectivity for everyone globally,” she said. “As our societies grow more digital and the internet is integrated into our daily lives, connecting occasionally is not enough. We need regularly reliable access.”

To add icing on the cake was a 10-year-old Lynn Ouko, a Grade 5 learner at Makini schools in Kisumu who is a Child Online Safety advocate.

She noted that the Internet has brought untold benefits to the lives of children, presenting vast opportunities and possibilities that enable them to learn, and play but also presents risks and vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities usually target juniors netizens due to their unsuspecting nature. She, therefore, made a plea to caregivers, parents, guardians, and all adults, in general, to always ensure that children are properly guided on online safety.

“As children, we are vulnerable online and there have been many cases of unknowingly getting into dangerous situations that sometimes have detrimental effects to them,” she said adding, “Protecting children online should be a globally concerted effort of parents, guardians, the government and organizations that focus on children.”

The annual event brings together stakeholders representing government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, media, and the public in an informal setting for policy dialogue on Internet governance issues on an equal basis through an open and inclusive process.

The forums are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to sub-regional then regional level finally culminating in a report that is presented at the global level. The outcomes of the country level (Kenya IGF) feed into the regional level (East Africa IGF), continental level (Africa IGF), and ultimately at the global level (IGF).

Watch out for the 15th edition of the KeIGF in 2022.

Republished from CIO Africa, the Event producers.


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