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Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for All Nigerians

1.0 Introduction

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) defined Internet Governance as “the development and application by Governments,the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of sharedprinciples, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs thatshape the evolution and use of the Internet.’’1

Simply put, internet governance involves aims by relevant stakeholders to enshrine orderliness in the development and utilization of the internet.

2.0 Internet Governance for Development:  A Multistakeholderism Approach for Inclusive National Development 

As a developing nation with numerous economic and security challenges, how would the Nigerian government, the private sector and the civil society ensure Nigeria and its citizens are provided with an internet environment safe, neutral and yet competitive enough to create vast opportunities for all Nigerians?

3.0 The Role of Government: Building Institutional Capacity and Coordinating National Efforts

Relatively, Internet governance is a strange field for many countries, especially developing countries like Nigeria. Apart from the challenges of bridging knowledge deficit, there is even the bigger challenge of managing diverse stakeholders involved.

To claim its rightful place in global internet governance issues, Nigeria must as a matter of urgency, develop sufficient institutional capacity to follow and partake in global internet negotiations.

Developing such institutional capacity will help to produce coordinated, harmonized and coherent efforts from relevant government ministries, telecommunication companies, civil society and the academia. Such harmonized efforts will be most crucial in addressing serious global internet governance issues such as net-neutrality, intelligent property and cyber security.

4.0 The Role of the Private Sector:  Creating an Internet of Opportunities

The private sectors, such as the domain name companies, the internet service providers (ISPs), telecommunication companies, and internet content providers, have contributed significantly to the evolution of the internet.2

However, to create an internet of opportunities for all Nigerians, private sector must ensure that all business policies put the interest of internet users first. Additionally, internet service providers and telecommunications companies should optimize their facilities to current global standards such as IPv6. Efforts should also be made to encourage Nigerian content providers to register their websites in the .ng country code Top Level Domains. Nevertheless, the paramount effort must include an effective participation in internet governance forums, regionally and globally.


5.0 The Role of Civil Society: Protecting Public Interest.

Internet has grown with civilization. In fact, countries like Finland, Estonia, France, Greece,Spain, and Costa Rica have all made access to the Internet a human right.3 These privileges have accrued not only because these governments saw the opportunities inherent in internet utilization, but principally because of agitations from civil society organizations.

Apart from protecting public interests, Nigerian civil organizations must serve as the intermediary between the government and the private sector. Additionally, they can also serve to encourage positive use of the internet, while exposing even more opportunities to the Nigerian public.


6.0 Recommendations and Conclusion

With multitudes of internet users and an ever increasing growth in internet penetration, the Nigerian internet community must not only assert its global relevance, but must also deploy the internet as a tool for sustainable development. Since internet governance involves a great number of non-government stakeholders, government should put in place the institutional capacity for these stakeholders to form a harmonized and coherent negotiating power.

On their part, the private sector should ensure that the end-users’ welfare is made the supreme priority. While all stakeholders, including the civil society organizations, must ensure that internet utilization does not just yield development, but that such development must be sustainable and inclusive enough to create a huge number of opportunities for all Nigerians!

*Contributed by ODONOEKUMA ONYEBUCHI EKUMA from Faculty of Medical Sciences,University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, as part of his winning essay entry at the Etisalat-DigitalSENSE Africa Students Essay Competition, 2016.

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References:
1.      Kurbalija, J (2014) “an introduction to internet governance” 6th edition, published by DiploFoundation, Geneva. Page 5 Accessed: 15th April 2016.
2.      Ibid, pg. 185
3.      ACCESS, (2011) The Importance of Net Neutrality in the Emerging and Developing World”, discussion paper for comment, 2011. Accessed: 15th April, 2016. 

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