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Paradigm Initiative Tasks Stakeholders On Internet Accessibility In Africa

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Paradigm Initiative (PIN), a leading Pan-African Digital Rights and Inclusion organization has urged stakeholders to contribute towards efforts aimed at ensuring Internet accessibility, particularly in Africa.

Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan gave the charge at the 10th edition of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF23), which kicked off in Nairobi yesterday.

DRIF23 with the theme, “Building A Sustainable Internet For All”, brings together 600 delegates from across the world.

Representatives from government, non-governmental organizations, academia, media, funding partners, the United Nations, the technical community, and the private sector within the digital ecosystem, are attending the three-day conference.

The forum is hosting 70 sessions with partners from 48 countries across the world. Sessions are focusing on among other themes, Internet shutdowns, Universal Service Fund utilization, data protection, content moderation, and censorship. Also lined up at the event are key launches of research, platforms, and networks.

PIN is hosting the Pan-African bilingual event in collaboration with Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) and Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) established under Strathmore University. KICTANet is a multi-stakeholder think tank in Kenya for ICT policy and regulation. CIPIT is an evidence-based research and training Centre based at Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.

The event sponsors are the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ford Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, Google, Open Technology Fund and the Global Network Initiative (GNI).

Mr. Sesan, who spoke during a high-level panel discussion at the conference said it has become increasingly imperative for the stakeholders to take concrete steps in improving internet access for common good of all.

“If all stakeholders don’t get their hands dirty, we will come back here 10 years later to discuss the same issues”, he said.

The panel comprising Ms. Emma Inamutila Theofelus, Namibia Deputy Minister for Information Communication & Technology (ICT); Ms. Grace Githaiga Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Convenor, KICTANet; and Mr. Vladimir Garay, Advocacy Director, Derechos Digitales, was unanimous on the need for sustainable internet and balanced regulation across the continent.

Ms. Theofelus, who spoke about the level of Internet penetration in Namibia, pointed out the huge cost involved in developing infrastructure and the need for government and political will.

“Rolling out infrastructure is difficult and very expensive. We have put in place the conditions for licensing and investment from the government. There has been some political will. This includes the Universal Service Fund. We also have one of the most liberated media on the continent”, she added.

In her presentation, Ms. Githaiga stressed the need for multi-stakeholder collaboration and joint convenings in delivering Internet access.

“As KICTANet, we have held joint convenings focusing on cybersecurity, data protection and the broadband report. The Kenya Internet Governance Forum is our flagship program. Through the forum we discuss and see how to fit issues into our local context”, she further explained.

On his part, Vladimir emphasized the importance of Internet access saying connectivity supports human rights, adding that people want high quality, affordable and secure internet connectivity.

“The Internet is expensive and limited. We need to acknowledge and address internet connectivity gaps”, he stressed.

PIN has convened DRIF since 2013. Last year’s DRIF under the theme, “Towards a Digitally Inclusive Africa”, was a hybrid event that was able to reach over 1,300 individuals. Physical sessions were hosted in 17 African countries.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=87036

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