Over the past years, the Internet has played a major role in the growth and prosperity of our society in areas of trade, education, health, governmental services, or simply for entertainment. As of year 2012, access to the Internet is recognised as a basic human right which enables individuals to "exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression" as stipulated by the United Nation Human Right Council.
To ensure a sustainable growth of a stable, secure and robust Internet, it is vital that Governments, Civil and Technical societies along with all other stakeholders engage in dialogues and forums regarding the Internet, its development and related issues on how the Internet should be managed. This is what Internet governance is about.
In line with the above objective, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in two phases. The first one took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003, and the second one took place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005. [more on WSIS].
One of the outcomes of the last meeting provided a definition of Internet Governance as follows: '' Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.'' (WGIG 2005)
IG issues broadly covers:
- Open access to governance processes;
- Network security and stability;
- Responsible management of critical Internet resources.
There are several organisations involved in the governance of the Internet globally and addressing the above issues. AFRINIC collaborates closely with these global organisations, amongst others, namely:
The Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was set up by the United Nations following on the working sessions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The Internet Governance Forum is an annual platform for multi-stakeholder consultation for the global Internet fraternity to explore, discuss and solve crucial Internet-related issues. Since 2006, the IGF brings stakeholders together from the government sector, the Industry, and the Civil Society to discuss Internet governance issues at annual meetings.
At present, three out of the ten seats allocated to the academic and technical community are occupied by RIRs representatives on the IGF Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG).
The NRO collectively and AFRINIC individually are keen participants at the annual global IGF with workshops and expert speakers present on different panels. Get an overview of some of these contributions over the years.
The Regional Internet Governance Forums (IGF) are multi-stakeholder platforms focusing on Internet governance issues such as access, cyber security, critical internet resources and Internet governance for development (IG4D) specific to each sub region. The outcome of these forums is shared at the Global IGF.
AFRINIC supports the African sub-regional IGFs though content building, and by providing financial and technical support.
African IGF (AF-IGF)
Internet Governance in Africa was very active during the WSIS process with regional meetings held from 2002 to 2005 in Bamako, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cairo, Johannesburg, Douala and Tunis. The AF-IGF forum includes representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations and addresses Internet Governance issues in the continent to provide substantive input to the global IGF process. Further, within the IGF global initiative, Africa has already hosted two Global IGFs - Egypt (2009) and in Kenya (2011).
This multi-stakeholder forum consists of 22 Arab nations. The Arab IGF was launched in 2012 following the endorsement of the outcome of the Conference and Public Consultations, jointly organised by LAS and ESCWA in Beirut, to establish the Arab IGF.
Click here to learn more about these issues.
East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF)
The EAIGF regroups East African stakeholders to build a common understanding of East Africa Internet governance issues to enable meaningful participation in global Internet policy, governance and development. The participating nations are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Read more on the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF)
Forum de gouvernance de l'internet en Afrique centrale (FGI-CA)
This multi-stakeholder forum tackles several ICT related themes and Internet governance issues in the Central African region. The participating nations are: Cameroun, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DR Congo, Central Africa Republic and Chad.
West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF)
The West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) aims to promote Internet Governance issues in West Africa through a multi-stakeholder process. It is run by a consortium led by the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). Other members of the consortium include AFRINIC, Panos West Africa, the IISD, APC, ISOC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Member states participating in these forums are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum
The SA-IGF acknowledges the importance of Internet Governance and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as captured in the 2005 Tunis Agenda for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
North Africa Internet Governance Forum
The first North Africa Internet Governance Forum took place place in Hammamet, Tunisia, in September 2012.