[AfrICANN-discuss] the IGF : what does it mean for Africa?

Lohento Ken lohento at oridev.org
Sun Nov 15 10:31:25 SAST 2009

Dear all,

One the eve of Egypt 2009, for your info, this article I wrote on the
IGF and Africa - in French however, but please find a summary in English
below - The Africann list is somehow concerned - comments welcome.

Regards KL

The Internet Governance Forum: what does it mean for Africa? - Octobre
2009 - working document in French - Download here


This article seeks to understand the representation and interest of the
IGF process within the African ICT community, and to give illustrations
of its eventual impact. To do this, we, primarily, have analyzed
exchanges on two key discussion lists on which African views on Internet
governance are conveyed. To complement and validate if necessary
observations, we have consulted some documents produced by some players
and have questioned others. We have also based conclusions on our
observation of the process since its launch in 2006.

The two lists analyzed are a panAfrican list (the AfrICANN list, created
by the AfriNIC, the body responsible for managing IP and ASN addresses
for the continent) and an international list (the Governance list, a
discussion space for the international civil society Internet Governance
Caucus). The first space was analyzed during six months (November 2008 -
April 2009) and the second during a year (May 2008 - April 2009). These
lists are two public lists, the most relevant for our analysis. It has
been observed only 7% of contributions dealt with IGF on the AfrICANN in
the period; this figure shows an interest in the international process,
but it is minimal, on a space that gathered key African ICT governance
players. However, as contributions on other subjects discussed on the
list illustrate, Internet Governance as an issue is of a strong
concern, specifically when it relates to its consolidation in Africa.
“Localising IGF” has then become a common leitmotiv on the continent.
 From another point of view, 5.43% of the Internet Governance Caucus
list contributions came from African subscribers during the twelve
months analyzed.
This figure is at least below the continent's presence on this space
(about 10%). However, it has to be stressed that Africa do contributes
to life in this group at all levels, including during development of
contributions submitted to IGF. On both lists, the feeble African
participation that may be understood by several factors is regretted, by
African stakeholders themselves first of all, and calls for reversing
this trend are often made. All these conclusions are validated by the
observation of the whole process, the analysis of some written
productions and discussions with some key actors.

A main conclusion after this research is that, although Africa
contributes and participates in IGF in different manners and for various
reasons, its interest in the international process is minimal; this is
due to the mandate of the Forum (which is not seen as a space for
solutions that Africa is urgently longing for), due to the basic access
to ICT needs and to the crucial need to strengthen internet governance
on the continent, which is seen as a greater priority. In addition, the
involvement of the academia is laking, as well that of regional economic
organizations (ECOWAS, SADC, etc.), maybe because governments seem less
interested in the process. The other main conclusion is that, capacity
building for some African ICT actors, and the increased awareness on the
importance of the multi-stakeholder approach in policy making the
sector, are seen as the key advantages gained from the international

It is therefore crucial, in this period of mid-term “evaluation” of IGF,
and some days before its fourth annual meeting organized in Africa, that
mechanisms that support capacity building are strengthened and made more
visible, if further enhancing the importance of the international
process in the eyes of actors of the continent is an aim.

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