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East African Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF): Opening the Internet Governance Debate in East Africa; Thinking globally, acting locally

The East African Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF) was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 10 to 12 November, 2008. The forum was a follow up to national Internet Governance Forums (IGFs) held in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda in September and October 2008. The forum was attended by approximately 180 stakeholders drawn from the
business, civil society, media, academia and government.

The forum was the first of its kind in the Africa region. It was organised through a collaborative partnership between the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), the Kenya ICT Board, Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC), Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the East African ICT for Development Network (EAICT4D), Telecommunication Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK), among others.

The EAIGF was initiated from the realisation that there was a need to address the limited participation by African stakeholders on global internet governance debates and processes and the need to ensure effective and meaningful contribution to global ICT policymaking. The forum adopted a bottom-up approach and began by mobilising participation at the national levels of the respective East African countries to identify local priority issues. These
national Internet Governance Forums (IGFs) were coordinated by the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) and organised by national network members of the East African ICT4D Network, which are: Sharing with Other People Network (SWOPNet) Tanzania, Information Network (I Network) Uganda, Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNet) Uganda, CIPESA (Uganda), Rwanda Development Gateway, Rwanda Utilities Agency (RURA), Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA) and Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) and Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet).

Kenya and Uganda had held mailing list discussions prior to the face to face national IGFs. The national IGFs adopted the multi-stakeholder approach by providing a platform for government, private sector, civil society, media and academia to articulate both local and regional Internet Governance (IG) issues. The forums focussed on building consensus and developing a common understanding on the local nature and character of IG. The national IG issues were then used as a building block for the regional Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF).

The objectives of the EAIGF are to:

- Create awareness and build policy and technical capacity in order to enable meaningful participation in global internet governance and ICT Policy processes
- Institute a consensus building process and develop a common understanding among East African internet stakeholders on the nature and character of IG
- Provide a forum provide that engages industry, government, parliament, media, academia and civil society in debate on Internet Governance issues.

One of the key messages that emerged from the EAIGF was that this was the first ever IGF to “build a grass-root, bottom up process, which began in four countries of the East African region-Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, then culminated into the regional meeting in Nairobi, a clear support for the multi-stakeholder process.

Priority IG issues for the East African Region:

1. Universal affordable Access
a. Access to infrastructure
b. Affordable access to relevant local Content
c. Multi lingualism
d. National and regional Internet exchange points (IXPs)
2. Capacity and skills development
a. Strengthening knowledge base/understanding of IG issues at both policy and
b. Enhance level and quality of local contributions to international IG policy
c. Develop local community expertise
3. Legislative frameworks that will create an enabling environment for creation and innovation
a. Provision of legal and regulatory frameworks for use of ICTs for development
in the region
b. Harmonisation of legal and regulatory frameworks within the East African
4. Critical internet resources
a. IPv6 adoption (Transition from IPv4 to IPv6)
b. New gTLDs and IDNs
c. Collaboration and sharing of best practices and procedures
d. ccTLDs and re-delegation of dot UG and RW
5. Cyber crime, security and privacy (creating a national and regional framework)
a. Protecting national/regional Internet infrastructure
b. Protecting personal information
c. Spam
d. E-crime and security legislation
e. National and Regional Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) and Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT).

To improve understanding of IG, strengthen the knowledge base and capacity of East African Stakeholders to engage in the global ICT policy process, research based resource material and a capacity building programme will be developed on the identified priority issues.

The Second EAIGF will be held in Tanzania in 2009.

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Comment by Emmanuel Habumuremyi on May 25, 2009 at 3:42pm
Hello Jean Paul. Burundi is absent in different ICT initiatives in East Africa. What we have to do to be with you in this process?
Comment by Judi on May 25, 2009 at 3:08pm
Hello Jean Paul,hope youre well. that would be great and please let us know how far youve gone and how we can come in and work together.

Everyone else here is the promised link for all the reports on the EAIGF...process and reports...feel free to comment. thnx.
Comment by NKURUNZIZA JEAN PAUL on May 22, 2009 at 11:01am
Hello Judi !
This IGCBP EA is really a good initiative !
In Burundi, I have met Victor CIZA, the chair person of ISOC Burundi chapter !
We are thinking about the organization of an IGF Burundi prior to the EAIGF !
Comment by Ansbert Ngurumo on May 20, 2009 at 9:23pm
Very interesting forum. Do encourage other East Africans to use it profitably.
Comment by Judi on May 20, 2009 at 1:18pm
thnx Emma.....good heads up........for your information, there is a bit of change of plans as concerns EAIGF 2009...it wil be held in Nairobi,Kenya....due to logistics issues...I will send official communication....

John, as concerns participation youre very welcome...we (Kenya) just concluded the online discussion on KIGF 2009...I will give the links to the full report once it is available.
I am in discussion with Vlada and we should launch IGCBP EA by september 2009... persons living in Kenya,Uganda,Tanzania,Rwanda,Burundi....please take up your roles and lets make this a success...be part of this...more on this will come shortly :-)
Comment by Emmanuel Habumuremyi on May 20, 2009 at 11:38am
Hello everybody. Thank you for your reaction on the above post. Based on information from IGF in Rwanda, Kenya with the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) is more active than other teams in the region. As for Rwanda, the team is looking at how to set up its organization framework and put in place a plan of actions to participate actively in the IGF vision. I am following the process since the above is done I will let you know about it and tell you about the support and help needed for the initiative. In the end of this month, I will also meet KICTANet members to know how better all members of the EAIGF can be at the same page on common understanding of the IG.
Comment by John Ngahu on May 20, 2009 at 11:00am
HI Samwel, i have been following the online debates of IG and partcipated in many of the global meetings. It's very impressive to see that we have an EA IGF. How are the plans for the 2009 tanzania meeting. i would like to participate actively both on and offline.
Comment by Diplo IGCBP on May 19, 2009 at 9:37am
Very interesting piece, Emmanuel.

What people here can do to support your initiative? What type of help would you need?



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