The need to govern the Net is increasingly becoming a necessity which brings about the now emerging global and local concerted efforts by cyber stakeholders to properly govern the web. Therefore, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a nonprofit organization in conjunction with the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) held the first ever Internet Governance Forum ((IGF) in the North West geopolitical zone in Kano on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.
The event which took place at the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training had as participants various stakeholders in internet governance including internet regulators, academics, cyber enthusiasts as well as members of the civil society and the media.
In his opening remarks, YZ Yau, the Executive Director of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) said the idea behind the forum was to create awareness as well build the capacity of citizens in the area of Internet governance. He described the internet as now a critical resource which hosts some of the most important services for our growth and development, hence the need to properly govern it.
PAPER 1: UNDERSTANDING INTERNET GOVERNANCE
While Delivering the paper Understanding Internet Governance, Dr Bashir Galadanchi of the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, Bayero University, Kano defined internet governance as “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 programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”
He added that our lives today are more or less, dependent on the Internet infrastructure since communication networks, entertainment channels, financial transactions and most importantly free access to information depends on the internet.
Dr Galadanchi said everyone could contribute by finding out what’s at stake in terms of government policies and joining in on the debate. He described the internet as the most important infrastructure today, which is not only being used for countless day to day activities but also which plays an influential role in the evolution of our society, therefore urged citizens to speak up and participate in internet governance discussions.
PAPER 2: NATIONAL AND WEST AFRICAN REGIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE
In her paper titled National and West African Regional Perspectives on Internet Governance, Mrs Mary Uduma, chairperson, Nigeria Internet Governance Forum said whereas the dialogue on Internet Governance in Africa had been on since 2002, it was until 2012 that the first multi-stakeholder meeting on Internet Governance issues called Africa IGF (AfIGF) began.
She said the IG process started in Nigeria in 2006 and it was spearheaded by the government adding that the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) was reconvened as a multi-stakeholder initiative in 2012.
She explained that the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum was driven by a group of individuals representing various institutions and sectors under the name Local Multistakeholder Advisory Group (LMAG) adding that the NIGF, as a multi-stakeholder entity, amongst others, consisted of various stakeholders including NCC, NITDA, and NIRA, whose collaboration, she said, was fully endorsed by the government through the Ministry of Communication Technology (FMCT)
She said the theme for Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) in 2015 was Harnessing the Potentials of Internet Governance for Sustainable Development in Nigeria adding that the contributions and input from the forums were presented to the government and other policy making organisations – to help ensure that the recommendations made were considered and possibly implemented.
Uduma said outcomes of such forums were usually also sent to the Global and African IGF secretariat which she said gives them “a clearer picture of the happenings within the Nigerian IG system.”
PAPER 3: INTERNET GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA: NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION’S PERSPECTIVE
In his presentation, Internet Governance in Nigeria: Nigerian Communications Commission’s Perspective by Prof UG Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) described Internet Governance as Development and application of Shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs By Government, Private sector, Civil Society, Academia, etc. that shape the evolution and the use of the Internet.
He gave a brief background of the efforts by cyber stakeholders in Nigeria in organizing the annual Internet Governance Forums (IGFs) in Nigeria beginning from the first ever NIGF hosted jointly by MCT, NCC, NITDA, and NiRA, among other stakeholders held in Abuja (2012) under the theme: Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development.
Prof Danbatta spoke on the benefits of the child online policies and advocacy which he said promotes and provides strategies for protection of vulnerable audiences; creates awareness on benefits and dangers of internet use as well as facilitates improved consumer online experience.
PAPER 5: GOVERNMENT PERSPECTIVES ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE
Delivering the paper Government Perspectives on Internet Governance, Emmanuel Edet, who represented the Director General of the Nigeria Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) at the Forum said the primary function of any government was to ensure the safety and security of its citizens as well as provide the foundation for economic growth and comfort after meeting their basic necessities of life adding that the interest of the government in the Internet Governance space was not different from this.
He said the stability of the internet was a paramount consideration of the government adding that they recognized that the Internet was now a critical resource which hosts some of the most important services for Nigeria’s growth and development as a country.
He stated that security and privacy are issues which were critical in the use of the internet adding that this must be given adequate and serious consideration since both groups and nations were using cyberspace as the new realm for crimes, terrorism and warfare.
Among others, Edet identified as the way forward the need to encourage the Nigerian technical and academic community to participate in the international intergovernmental organization that set technical standards for the internet; the need to support innovations on the internet through schemes like the Incubation Centres and Demo Africa Projects of NITDA as well as the need to promote access to the internet through encouraging development of infrastructure and considerable reduction in the cost of access to the internet.
PAPER 5: SECURING YOUR DATA & PRIVACY ON THE NET
In his presentation, Reverend Sunday Folayan, said in the past, security threats spread relatively slowly and were easy to pinpoint, eradicate as well as contain but now with the “Internet of Everything”, threats have reached unparalleled level of complexity.
He said therefore said data security and privacy on the net must not be ignored adding that protection of information must be top priority for individuals, organizations and the government. He explained that high profile incidents had exposed vulnerabilities in government, educational facilities and corporate organizations.
Like other countries of the world, he said Nigeria also had “The Cybercrime Act 2015” to protect its citizens and address some of the cybercrime issues adding that security data protection and information security should be a priority. He then urged businesses to overcome data and privacy hurdles and companies to address crucial issues around ownership to be able to capitalize on the benefits of a connected future.
At the end of the Forum, the floor was made open to participants who asked various questions as well as made observations, comments and recommendations which were contained in a communiqué of the Forum. In his closing remarks, Executive Director of CITAD, Mr YZ Yau thanked all participants at the forum for their active participation and assured them that their various recommendations would a be taken to the forthcoming global internet governance forum scheduled for 10th to 14th November in Brazil.