The 5th African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) was held from 16 – 18 October 2016 in Durban, South Africa. The AfIGF brought together government representatives, the private sector, academia, technical community, civil society organisations and the media from over 30 African countries.
The African School on Internet Governance
The AfIGF was preceded by the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) held 11-15 October 2016. I was privileged to be a part of the class of 2016, whose dates were strategically planned to precede the AfIGF in order to enhance the learning experience of the 44 graduates who attended the school. As part of its practicum, the class of 2016, which I was privileged to be a part of came up with a statement with recommendations on intentional internet shutdowns which was presented at the AgIGF.
Internet shutdowns are the latest global phenomenon used by governments to ‘control’ citizen action. Globally over 50 internet shutdowns have been recorded for the year 2016. Africa has witnessed varied Internet shutdowns that range from total blackouts of access or targeted interruptions of popular social media platforms. The latest internet shutdowns on the continent include that of The Gambia imposed during the country elections, are Democratic Republic of Congo’s shutdown of social media applications, as the President Kabila’s term of office draws to a close. The reasons proffered for the shutdowns, are usually concerns of public disorder and national security during national elections. They are also used to censor citizens and control mobilisation during citizen-led protests. In some instances the shutdowns are government sanctioned, while in others as is the case with Zimbabwe, the shutdown is unaccounted for.
Parallel session on Internet Rights
The session, which was organised by the Association of Progressive Communications, was an open discussion that focused on the African Declaration of Internet Rights and Freedoms and outlined digital rights trends on the continent
The following recommendations were submitted:
Connecting the next billion which role for Africa?
This panel discussion centered on how Africa can contribute meaningfully to the next one billion people to be connected to the internet. Panelists noted that the following issues were important in making a meaningful regional contribution:
National Internet Governance Forums
Currently the continent has thirteen National Internet Governance Forums (NIGFs)
For a fuller, detailed report visit AfIGF website.