[AfrICANN-discuss] African Governments, Internet and Governance

Nii Narku Quaynor quaynor at ghana.com
Fri Nov 2 01:06:12 SAST 2012

Much has been discussed recently on this list about role of national governments in Internet administration, coordination or governance. We have read wide spectrum of views ranging from nation states must regulate the Internet to others arguing a softer expression power of nation states through a governance approach playing on public interest responsibilities of governments

While these 'let's tame the beast' debates are going on, the Internet is growing dramatically and some African governments are investing on 'Internet for Governance' instead. Since the global open government partnership was initiated by some eight countries in 2011 it has spurred open data initiatives globally and Africa is participating

The partnership sought to highlight transparency, accountability and engagement of larger society in policy evolution and governance. Beside the partnership governments are quickly going beyond e-government services to publishing government data in raw numerical form enabling the engagement of expertise outside government to marsh up the data and contribute to governance and development. Kenya was one of first countries to turn the corner when open data.go.ke was published [1]

It is argued that by focussing more of publishing data, building technical capacity and encouraging the community to produce applications one is able to bring right level of expertise to discover the wealth of knowledge in the data to advantage. It's argued one would gain efficiency in governance and one would do better development plans. That is some may relate health data to location of hospitals while others would help visualize how location of hospitals are related to prevalence of public health challenges or relate schools and population distribution. The opportunities of impact may be huge. Ghana also does not want to miss the opportunity and is about to launch its own open data initiative at data.gov.gh [2]. Evidently there are several African countries preparing to launch open data initiatives which signals a major shift in using the tool, Internet 

So who is governing who? Is it governments governing/regulating the Internet or is the Internet becoming a governing tool. Are we missing opportunities by being obsessed with regulating the Internet that we don't place sufficient attention on taking advantage of its powers for development. Time will tell 

[1] http://www.ict.go.ke/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=416:kenya-open-data&catid=76:hot-topic&Itemid=205

[2] http://www.ghananewsagency.org/details/Science/US-Data-team-visits-Ghana/?ci=8&ai=51471#.UJHoDsW6eV8
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