Inclusive and resilient internet will promote digital governance
ECA

Inclusive and resilient internet will promote digital governance

The internet presents opportunities for digital transformation, particularly in Africa that is fast embracing the information technologies, global leaders say, calling for the promotion of digital governance.

“Resilient internet for a shared sustainable and common future is a topic of utmost importance for all countries,” Mr. Demeke Mekonnen Hassen, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia, said in closing the 2022 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held from 28 November to 2 December 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mr. Hassen, described the IGF2022 as a resounding success that has offered the exchange of insights that will lead to progressive actions in promoting digital governance.

In line with nurturing common understanding on internet governance, Mr. Hassen expressed hope that the IGF will assume additional responsibility of following up on its outcomes and pass decisions on selected issues without losing its feature as a forum for open collaboration and free flow of ideas.

“This will enable IGF to safeguard the world summit on the information society principles and move discussions towards appropriate action,” said Mr. Hassen.

“Ethiopia has persisted in its drive for prosperity and building a digital economy,” the Deputy Prime Minister said, paying tribute to the dedicated national teams and other stakeholders for making IGF a success.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), described the deliberations of the IGF as intensive, inspiring, motivating and fruitful. He noted that collaboration helps in meeting challenges while seizing opportunities created by the internet and digital transformation.

“We must ensure that a digital future puts people first” Mr. Junhua urged, underlining that the IGF has addressed the specifics of the digital policy areas from connectivity and human rights to internet fragmentation and emerging technologies.

“You have all demonstrated to the world that if we cooperate we can harness the true power of the digital technologies, changing lives for the better,” said Mr. Junhua, who called on all stakeholders to disseminate the messages from the IGF.

Concurring on the critical role of the IGF, Mr. Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), highlighted that the convening of the IGF bore new ideas, partnerships and strengthened alliances.

Mr. Pedro, noted that the IGF2022 had highlighted current global concerns on digital sovereignty, misinformation, interoperability and affordability. In addition, participants discussed the issues of internet shutdowns, freedom of expression and most importantly, capacity and infrastructure gaps in internet access.

“We heard your call that IGF should put forth tangible proposals, whether for shaping global norms and standards, or for impacting national level regulations,” said Mr. Pedro, highlighting the need to action some key deliberations made at the IGF2022.

“An inclusive and safe cyberspace is a necessity to ensure no one is left behind in the digital transformation journey and everyone is safe online,” he said, adding that partnerships should be at the foundation of digital transformation. He lauded the participation of the youth at IGF and of the high number of African participants at a time the continent was at a peak of digital transformation and implementing its ten-year Digital Transformation Strategy.

“ECA remains committed to supporting African voices at the global stage on Internet Governance, in and out of season,” said Mr. Pedro.

Ms. Huria Ali, State Minister for Innovation and Technology, Ethiopia said data was a valuable commodity in high demand from governments. It was important that its generation and use was safeguarded.

“While data and personal information have been used for good to improve lives, advance economies and societies, its unauthorized collection,  tracking, transfer or sell has compromised the users privacy and security, Ms. Alo said, urging that, “Efforts to address cybersecurity must center around people.”

Ms. Ali said there is untapped potential and uncertainties in the use of digital technologies, warning of the need to guard against the infringement of human rights in the use of the internet.

Ms. Fikir Andargachew, President Digital Transformation Ethiopia Association, said Ethiopia was fostering a digital ecosystem in developing digital savvy frameworks and enabling digital businesses and promoting digital literacy.

Ms. Fiona Asonga, Chief Executive Officer, Technology Service Providers of Kenya said the IFG was an opportunity to strengthen Africa’s participation in important conversations on the internet ecosystem.

Citing the launch of the Digital Coalition Africa as timely in Africa, Ms. Asonga said Africa was ripe for internet connectivity and digitization.

As the world was building a resilient internet, the role of the youth must not be forgotten, urged Ms. Phyo Thiri Lwin, the IGF Youth Representative, who said young people as future leaders should be part of finding solutions in a digital world.

“We have to serve a common goal for shaping our internet and the internet community and we also have to educate the next generation and empower young people around us to understand and advocate for a more secular, open and trusted internet,” she said.

Mr. Paul Mitchell, Chair IGF MAG, said the IGF came at a critical time when the world was asking hard questions about internet and digital governance.

Remarking that the IGF ‘is more than ever necessary’. Mr. Mitchell noted that the high interest in the digital and internet governance underlined the massive innovations and the determination of innovators in changing the world for the better.

“Innovation takes courage and innovation breaks through established barriers to change the game and meeting all needs in new ways or more efficiently,” said Mr. Mitchell.

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