By Moses Nosike
Internet policy experts have called for a more robust and relevant research from the academia and institutional actions that will promote the growth of Africa Internet Policy and Governance space.
This call was made at the colloquium organized by the African Academic Network on Internet Policy (AANoIP), it was hosted by the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) in Ibadan, Nigeria.
AANoIP is a network for interdisciplinary scholarly engagement and discussion on the State of the Internet, related policies and regulatory regime in Africa. As part of its mandate, the African Academic Network on Internet Policy hosts seminar series / colloquiums to bring into focus and foster discourse on crucial issues as it connects the digital economy.
Director of Learning Information Networking Knowledge (LINK) Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa who was the guest lecturer, Dr. Lucienne Abraham spoke on ‘Fostering Good Internet Governance in a Complex Ecosystem of the Digital Economy: A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective’. She identified issues such as limited academic input, outdated internet regulatory policies, power-play among industry regulators, and lack of innovative competition as some of the challenges confronting Africa’s digital ecosystem.
She called for a policy regime that promotes shared participation in the provision of innovative solutions to local challenges that will help enhance Africa’s technological readiness in the current digital economy. Abraham noted that Africa has a very complex internet ecosystem, and it is imperative for the players especially at the institutional level to be very adaptive. She challenged researchers particularly on the urgent need for a more evidence-based research in developing internal frameworks for technological readiness assessment.
In his welcome address, the Executive Vice Chairman, ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, lamented the dearth of cross-disciplinary engagements for shaping policy design. He therefore advocated for a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance issues in Nigeria. He opined that with over 2.5 billion Internet users today, it could become a ‘Wild Wide West’ as against the safe ‘World Wide Web’ if constructive engagement of multiple stakeholders is not taking place.
AANoIP Steering Committee member, and Research Partner at the Cyber Security Research Laboratory, Centre of Excellence in Software Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Dr. Tope Aladesanmi, said that the objectives of the academic network is to raise the level of public discourse, deepen academic research and training in Internet policy and governance in Africa through advocacy, conferences & workshops, training, research partnerships and collaboration with universities and private sectors in curriculum development and mounting of joint academic programs. “With membership drawn from across the African continent, the academic network is focused on interrogating Africa’s Academic space and enriching seminal contribution to global Internet Policy and Governance”. he said.
Director of the African Regional Centre for Information Science, University of Ibadan Prof. Wole Olatokun who was the Chairman of the event, noted that the Internet plays a major role in everyday life, hence the need to participate in the governance structure with all sense of responsibility as the internet belongs to everyone.
In his submission, President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association and the Chair, Board of Director of The African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC), Reverend Sunday Folayan provided an insight into the Internet Ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa. He explained to the participants the primacy of data as a key asset in driving digital economy and the imperative of individuals, businesses and government to treat same as such.