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Recapping the West Africa Internet Governance Forum 2013

July 10, 2013  »  ICT PolicyNo Comment

The 6th West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) 2013 aimed to address how ICTs can provide better security for citizens in the region. Held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, a mix of Ivorian ministers, WAIGF coordinators, and representatives from ICANN, AfriNIC, and even INTERPOL participated in sessions throughout the three days. The event was the culmination of a busy month of national internet governance forums in Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.

No official communique or summary has been published (yet), but social media allows us to recap a few lasting points of interest. Like last year,  remote participation was invited via Twitter and a handful of key participants took advantage of the opportunity.

In brief, attendees discussed experiences in managing ccTLDs, the potential of submarine cables, the outlook for mobile broadband, the use of IXPs, local content creation, how social media is used for peace, cyber security, e-government programs, cloud computing, and online child protection. Additionally, we gathered the following insights from social media thanks to attendees who used the #waigf tag (translated via Google Translate):

  • ccTLD adoption does not happen overnight, and even then the business model poses challenges. There could soon be competition between country-level domains and the .africa domain. Mali, Gabon and Central African Republic will be the first to offer their free extensions.
  • Submarine cables promote international connectivity but attention should be given to connecting landlocked countries.
  • TV white space broadband needs policy development and regulatory attention.
  • Satellite has its place in rural areas (there shouldn’t be a fibre vs. satellite battle).
  • Gamification can be used to encourage learning in Africa.
  • PayPal is not available in Nigeria or Ivory Coast.
  • Open data can be used for democracy and job creation. Young techies can help organize.
  • Social media is starting to be used by MPs to inform, engage, and account to constituencies. Critics can be seen as ‘cheap consultants’.
  • It is important for a country to have its own CERT to better address and/or resolve a cyber incident. CERTs in Africa: Burkina Faso. Cameroon. Cote d’Ivoire. Egypt. Ghana. Kenya. Mauritius. Morocco. South Africa. Sudan. Tunisia.

National IGF updates from events held last month:

  • Nigeria: themes included youth participation, security, electricity, multi-stakeholder partnerships
  • Sierra Leone: is the ACE cable making an impact?
  • Guinea-Bissau: backbone and submarine cables are needed to meet demand for internet, facilitation of internet access in schools and public places
  • Mali: fibre optics are being used by the government to connect rural areas
  • Togo: discussed internet resources, security, citizen participation, social media, is creating a CERT
  • Burkina Faso: regulator works with IMF
  • Cote d’Ivoire: discussed SAT-3 and ACE cables, regulator, initiative for internet governance (IGICI), limiting .ci domain names to $15 or 8000 CFA, legal framework to make 1 megabit cost 10000 CFA

The TV spot for the event:

African IGF (AfIGF) will be held 11-13 September in Nairobi, Kenya.

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