AfIGF 2017 Pushes for Inclusive Digital Transformation in Africa


IGF_Rio_2007Participants at the sixth African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) 2017 in Egypt have called on stakeholders to ensure inclusive digital transformation in Africa. To make this possible, they recommended making the Internet reliable and affordable; supporting educational institutions on digital resources, connectivity facilities and systems; and linking digital transformation to human rights and freedoms.

They also urged stakeholders to enable diversity of content in language and packaging; provide support in financing youth led startups that focus on developing technology solutions; and adopt open data policy for research.

Apart from the global level remote participation via social and other media, over 300 participants drawn from government, private sector, academia, research institutions, technical community, civil society organizations, media, and other stakeholders from over 30 countries participated physically at the Forum which held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sharm El-Sheikh, from December 4 to 6, 2017. The theme this year was “Enabling an Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa.”

The AfIGF which was launched in Nairobi in 2011 is a platform for an inclusive multilateral, multi-stakeholder and multilingual discussion on issues pertinent to the Internet in Africa generally and Internet Governance issues in particular with a view to carrying the voices and efforts of the African continent to the global agenda, while ensuring that the benefits of a viable information society accrue to every African.

This year’s event which is the sixth of its kind was co-organized by the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa in cooperation with the Egyptian Government and the NEPAD Coordination Agency with support from the African Union Commission; National Telecom Regulatory Authority, Egypt; NEPAD Agency; dotAfrica; ICANN; Internet Society; UNESCO; IGFSA; APC; and Huawei.

The event was officially opened by Dr. Sherif Hashim, Vice President, National Telecom Regulation Agency (NTRA) while the welcome address was delivered by H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner, Infrastructure and Energy, The African Union.

A high level discussion was conducted to capture perspectives of high level delegates on the policy implications of digitization to enable an inclusive digital transformation. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Moctar Yedaly from AUC.

Panelists at this session included: H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Ambassador Amr Aljowaily, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for United Nations Affairs, Egypt; Dr. Sherif Hashem, Vice-President, NTRA & Chairman of the Executive Bureau of the Supreme Cybersecurity Council Cabinet, Egypt; Dr. Gallo Sow, Chief Technical Advisor, Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, Post and Digital Economy, Senegal; Dr. Alexander Trigona, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister and Former Foreign Minister, Malta; and Pierre Dandjinou, Vice-President for Stakeholder Engagement for the Africa region, ICANN.

The AfIGF2017 also featured eight plenaries which were preceded by eight parallel sessions. The parallel Sessions are as follows explored The role of DNS as a technology in the Internet Policy; Connecting the Next Billion; Enabling the Digital Transformation of Africa: The Role of Youth; and AFEX Internet Freedom Reports. They also include Internet Exchange Points (IXPs); Cyber Security in Africa; Internet Universality Indicators; and Public libraries rise to the challenge to connect the next billion.

The plenary sessions operated in panel format with a moderator and three to five panellists for each session. The sessions were: Promoting Digital Africa: Internet Economy; Digital Transformation: How Do We Shape its Social and Labour Impacts? Empowering Global Cooperation on Cybersecurity for Sustainable Development and Peace; Emerging Issues; Review and Approval of the African IGF Charter; National and Regional Initiatives (NRIs); Local Interventions: Thriving in DNS Industry and maximizing the opportunities of dotAfrica; and The African Union Declaration on Internet Governance and Capacity Building Efforts on the Continent.

The Forum concluded with a set of recommendations aimed at ensuring an inclusive digital transformation of Africa.