The #DRIF19 conference enters its third day today in Lagos. The conference seeks to discuss issues around digital inclusion, rural penetration and digital rights in Africa.
Participants and discussants around the continent are on ground to kick-off the discussions.
Check here for updates from Wednesday’s discussions.
Follow this page for live updates of discussions at the conference today.
The first panel discussion is a round-table on Inclusive Multi-stakeholder Cyber-security Policy Process. The discussants are Emmanuel Edet, Head of Legal Services and Board Matters at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Grace Githaiga, Co-convener, Kictanet; Rukayat Adeyemi, Expert Group of Senate ICT Commitee, Titi Akinsanmi, Google Policy & Government Relations Lead;and Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager, Digital Rights, Anglophone West Africa, Paradigm Initiatives.
Mr Adegoke raised concerns over the relationship of policy makers with civil society campaigners, narrating his ordeals when he tried to be a part of a delegation to Dubai for a cyber-security conference. Mr Edet explained that the government is not suspicious of the civil society but rather, the relationships depend on how concerned persons choose to engage the agency involved.
Another discussant from Kenya said cyber-security is everybody’s responsibility and “we must not give up.”
Titi Akinsanmi, Google Policy & Government Relations Lead, emphasised the need for all stakeholders to contribute to the multistakeholders’ engagement, rather than put the issue on the table of the government alone. She also explained the need to identify the right audiences and the best way to engage them.
Ms Adeyemi, speaking on the secrecy that plagues government engagement and access to public documents, said there is need to employ different approaches to gaining access. She explained that stakeholders in the civil society must deploy means of persisting in the face of restrictive measures put in place by the system. “You just have to keep pushing,” she said.
Mr Edet said there are channels for releasing public documents which may have numerous procedures that may hinder effective engagement. He said things are largely requested to be communicated in writing, which makes document request problematic. He added that application of IT may hasten things up in the government circles. “But we are moving ahead; we try to ensure that government agencies are engaged,” he said. “We are pushing forward with the idea of digitizing government,” he ahead, saying there will be changes despite the challenge.
He added that stakeholders can also develop “informal channels” which could help`facilitate the “formal channels”.
A participant who spoke in French raised issues around online regulation and what it means for cyber security. She gave examples of Burkina Faso and what obtains with regard to use of social media, particularly in the area of national security and indiscriminate shutdown and regulations.
Another participant said the Cyber security act in Nigeria is not gender-sensitive as women and girls are largely vulnerable in the face of bullying on the internet.
Titi Akinsanmi, in her submission, said there are holes in the Nigerian laws as the infringement are largely a reflection of the laws themselves.
Mr Edet added that the major challenge in IT-related areas is that government are wont to apply the knee-jerk approach when faced with a development. He added that engagement is dependent on the priority and composition of those in government.
Vivian Affoah of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Ghana, said that beyond political heads, stakeholders can cultivate other heads that have longer stay in ministries and agencies in government. She gave examples of successes recorded in Ghana via the same approach.
The network that you have and sustain make the difference, said Titi Akinsanmi. She narrated how she built a major professional relationship by simply teaching someone how to prepare Nigerian jollof. “Nigerian jollof does have a lot of power,” she said, jokingly.
Vivian, on her part, said the major stakeholder for civil society is the public. She urged stakeholders to break things down for the people in languages that they understand.
Mr Edet added that then government is ready to engage and offer necessary support.
The session ends at 10:41.
The next session is tagged Internet: Multi-stakeholderism and Participation in the Assigned Names and Numbers Sector. Panelists include Lawrence Olawale-Roberts, Managing Director of MicroBoss; Oreoluwa Lesi, Founder of Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC); Seun Ojedeji, Vice Chair of the AFRINIC Board of Directors; Sunday Folayan, President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association; and Caleb Ogundele, Project Manager, African Research Network on Internet Policy.
Within the internet eco-system, Mr Folayan said there is need for stakeholder to come together to make things work.
Speaking on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, Mr Olawale-Roberts explained that the group takes care of the interest of everyone that has connection with internet use. He explained that ICANN is structured to cater for concerns surrounding the work of lawyers, engineers, media workers and other professionals.