Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nigeria, 2 others contest for WAIGF hosting right


Nigeria and two other African countries are warming up to contest for the hosting right of the West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) in 2011.

ITRealms Online gathered this at the just ended three-day West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) in Dakar, Senegal.

Other countries contesting for the hosting rights include Cote D’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

Speaking on the issue, top notcher of the Local Organisation Committee (LOC) and chairperson, Free and Open Source Software Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), Ms Nnenna Nwakanma, cautioned that WAIGF is not a mere government meeting but a multi-stakeholders’ forum.

“So, caution must be applied by potential hosting countries,” she said, stressing that if they want to host WAIGF they must have a very strong national Internet Governance Forum (IGF) team.

She noted that the West Africa Internet Governance Forum has moved away from being an event to being a project, hence the need to bid for its hosting rights.

This project, she said, is run by a consortium led by the FOSSFA, which comprise of African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), Panos Institute for West Africa (PIWA), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Internet Society (ISOC) Senegal and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), while the 2010 forum received support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

She noted that the just concluded WAIGF is the third edition of the regional meeting and the LOC alongside the Internet community in West Africa are looking forward to WAIGF 4, just as the Initiative de Governance de la Côte d’Ivoire IGICI already expressed willingness to host the regional face-to-face forum next year before the commencement of WAIGF 3.

But at the end of the forum, ITRealms Online confirmed that Nigeria and Sierra Leone have joined the race.

Speaking exclusively to ITRealms Online, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the West Africa IGF in Senegal, Director, New Media & Information Security at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Sylvanus A. Ehikioya, said the just concluded WAIGF was a well deserved forum considering the presentations and far reaching decisions that were made as the preparatory event for the West African region to take part in the global IGF in September in Vilnius, Lithuania.

“I think some of the issues addressed here are topical such as internet governance, content and infrastructure issues respectively, as well as the regulatory aspect of the internet governance,” he said.

On Nigeria’s plans to contest the hosting of the 2011 edition WAIGF, he noted that presently the Nigerian contingent in Dakar, would prepare a formal bid to host the 2011 programme on getting back to the country.

“… Be rest assured that Nigeria has never failed the world in an event of this nature and we will put everything in place,” he said.

Ehikioya expressed optimism that the government of Nigeria is very disposed to hosting the 2011 forum and would follow the appropriate channels, especially through the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili by informing her of this trust upon the Nigerian people, with respect to the West Africa Internet Governance Forum.

“I am sure the minister would gladly accept our proposal,” he assured.

Meanwhile, speaking at the closing session of the 2010 WAIGF, the chief executive of OSIWA Dr. Mrs. Nana Nyako, told participants that the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is critical to development and OSIWA believes it would assist in opening up the space in this sub-region.

“It is our dream that the forum is sustained cutting across Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and governments to discuss how Internet affects the lives of the people,” she said.

Pointing out that it is very important to have a forum where ECOWAS citizens could share challenges instead of mourning about it, hence, OSIWA saw this forum as an opportunity that should be used to maximize this advantage.

“We hope that it would offer more opportunity for creating awareness about what is going on at the country levels concerning IGF,” she said.

Nyako expressed optimism that there is hope that the way and manner Africans use ICT and new media is going to change, emphasizing that sustainability is key to the whole project.

“Sustainability of this process is the key to keeping our thoughts together and people getting informed,” she said.

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