By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – As the 12th edition of the African Internet Governance Forum that started on Tuesday 19th ended on Thursday 25th September 2023 in Abuja, the participants have endorsed 18 consensus declarations and three commitments.
Sundiata Post recalls that the theme of the programme is: “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation’.”
From the communique issued at the end of the programme, the following declarations were made:
•Whereas Africa has experienced significant growth in internet penetration since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, African states, African Union, and Regional Organisations should ensure policy interoperability to enhance digital cooperation and digitize Africa.
Africa through the lens of the Internet Governance forum needs to apply and arrive at shared norms, rules, decision making procedures that impact the evolution and utilisation of the internet.
•Reminds that IGF is a unique platform for exchange of ideas, and collaboration that will contribute to the internet We Want and a means to empower all Africans.
•Notes that APNIG play a crucial role in implementation of digital frameworks, most especially the ratification of Malabo Convention. Hence, the demand for accountability of legislation and transparency. Additionally, Parliamentarians should implement initiatives already started.
•Emphasises that Education curriculum should be of great concern to Parliamentarians, African Union and all IG actors. As this plays a pivotal role in breeding the future technology leaders and innovators.
•Laments that African states should ensure enforcement of cyber laws , incorporate a people-centric approach , and checks and balances.
•Recommends that IGF stakeholders and Africa should focus on high-quality digital literacy and capacity-building programs that promote competency and intergenerational knowledge exchange .
•Admonishes African Union and Regional Organisations to ensure that the multi-stakeholder approach should lead to cross-border, cross-sectional collaboration amongst African nations to achieve synergy in mutual legal frameworks and other necessary policy instruments.
•Urges African governments to have a strong political will that shapes the digital landscape. This is critical to achieving a safe, innovative, and sustainable digital ecosystem.
Technology is a double-edged sword. Hence, the need for IG stakeholders’ preparedness to address the risk posture and its impact.
•Posits that African growth lies within and in the safe sharing of data and its innovation. African Union, Regional Organisations, and Ministers should harness the power of data and its free flow.
•Warns that Cybercrime remains a potential threat to the implementation of AU 2063 agenda and AU’s digital transformation strategy. African Union and African Government should ensure adequate investment to fight cybercrime activities, ensure international cooperation, and capacity building for law makers and enforcement actors, the Judiciary and other necessary actors.
•Observes that Africa’s digital workforce strategy is reactive. Urgent investment is required to bridge the digital divide and to develop the digital workforce that is needed for new innovation.
•Resolves that It is vital that penetration into Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital solutions be grown from African datasets, and tailor AI models in our region’s unique challenges and opportunities. The availability and usage of African data for AI advancement will foster innovative solutions.
•Acknowledges that promoting responsible AI practices and inclusive data handling is crucial to ensure fairness and transparency. African governments should put in place the legislative frameworks to promote ethical AI principles and make inclusivity a data priority.
•Worries that the dearth of research in AI on the continent focused on the uniqueness of Africans leaves a huge gap and stifles the ability to develop solutions that identify our culture and people. Governments should allocate resources to support research and the growth of AI capabilities within our region.
•Agrees that there is an increasing interest in digital technologies across Africa, however, it is imperative that awareness should engender a total acceptance of digital solutions and technologies.
•Resolves that delegates should advocate with African governments to adopt the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System which is a cross-border, financial market infrastructure enabling payment transactions across Africa to increase cross-border trade and make the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) a successful reality.
•Agrees to build trust in data digital technologies, enablers like human centricity, equitable accessibility and affordability must be at the forefront for technology innovators and African governments alike.
•Asserts that developing strong foundational IDs is important to the Digital Economy landscape, however, digital ID should be developed and adopted in such a manner that it can be interoperable, accessible and usable across the African continent.
Similarly, in the declaration, the participants commit to:
A multi-stakeholder approach that fosters collaboration within and outside of Africa.
In the spirit of continuity commit to unity and dialogue for shaping Africa’s digital landscape.
Consented to continue imploring African Governments to create an enabling environment for Digital Economy to become pervasive and thrive across the region by reducing taxation on connectivity.
Sundiata Post recalls that the 12th IGF witnessed active participation from 17 members of parliament across the continent, 1,417 in-person attendees, and an impressive 1,683 participants that joined virtually.