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Being an African, I couldn't miss attending a workshop on African IGF and I have to report, there was nothing to loose as all was to gain.
As usual we kicked off with the introduction of the panelists which was followed by a small recap and report from previous IGF held in Cairo. The past African IGF was held in Cairo with assistance from the government of Egypt, APC, google to mention but a few with an aim of having a platform for multilateral, multilingual and intergovernmental involvement in IG issues of the continent. It was the first African IGF meeting which attracted a good number of multi stakeholders in participation. Some of the recommendations from this meeting were; Need for prior consultation before and IGF to find a best way to hold one, Need to engage all stakeholders in IGF, Need to increase online discussion before face to face meetings and Increased need for capacity building at all levels. The same meeting came up with the 'way forward' which included, but not limited to; Emphasis on National IGF processes, Engagement of Communities, Recruitment of IGF champions to help as consultants at national level, Engagement of development partners and business partners in IGF process, Engagement of African in more International IGF issues and discussion, Involvement of the youth in IGF issues and the use of social media to support IGF process and encouragement of remote participation. On behalf of African Union, all members who attended the Cairo and Baku IGF were appreciated and invited to host the African IGF.
Using the principle of what has worked else where, we had a guest speaker from the Arabic IGF who talked about their IGF that had just started.
Presentations from regional IGF members preceded with a look at successes and key recommendations. The African IGF is divided into East African IGF, West African IGF, North African IGF, Central African IGF and finally the Southern African IGF.
The East African IGF, the first regional IGF process in Africa, boasts of local IGF processes and discussions at national levels through the use of mailing lists. The East African IGF brings on board different stakeholders, including; Industry, Business, Civil society, Government, and Global partners not only at discussion levels but also at funding levels.
West African IGF, made up of 15 nations with 10 having conducted at least 1 IGF meeting, has previously held five IGF meetings. The WAIGF plans to begin measuring impact and applying lessons learnt, getting to all citizens and getting involvement of other stakeholders like media and Business as it's way forward.
The North African IGF, born last September in Tunis and not yet recognized didn't have much to talk about but very energized to get working.
The Central African IGF, made up of 10 nations, wants to attract more women in IGF processes, a task force which will give advice and consultancy when needed. CAIGF encouraged the African IGF to disseminate the report about the activities in Cairo for ITRs, to give an opportunity to participants in African IGF to analyze the ITRs before WCIT is held in December. A voice on encouraging African countries to involve civil society in discussions of ITRs in the WCIT was also passed. African countries where also encouraged to convene report meetings to give feedback after the Dubai meeting.
A recommendation from the Francophone IGF was to have multilingualism strongly implemented in the African IGF.
The floor was opened with a question of how to move forward, with many participants voicing their inputs, which included; having all countries subscribed to the respective regional IGF and finally participate in the African IGF, Emphasis on the issue of recommendations and not a talk$talk thing for the regional level IGFs and also to consider follow up of these recommendations, Recognition of the Southern African IGF which was not represented in the reports, encouragement of governments to take a leading role in IGF and consideration of IGF sustainability, Beginning to think about linkages with in National, Regional and International, where what is done at national level feeds into regional then international. A requested to the African IGF to be hosted either as a pre-event or some where in the middle of the IGF but not at the end as some African delegates are not able to stay till the end of the IGF due to issues of transport and costs was voiced. A request for national IGFs to discuss nation issues affecting Internet, with discussion on real issues was raised and consideration of synergies between regional IGFs since they almost had the same challenges could help came from a remote participant.
The African IGF came to an end with panelists strongly emphasizing recommendations and follow up and consolidation of the IGF.
From the look of things, many more countries in Africa are joining the IGF process and without doubt the sky is going to be the limit for the African IGF.