Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IGF: Experts strategise for Nigeria's position - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
A one-day forum on Internet Governance: Creating opportunities for all Nigerians was held in Lagos, last week. CHARLES OKOH , who was there reports that Nigerian experts used the platform to strategise for the 2009 global Internet Governance Forum.
THE need to articulate a common position for the Nigerian delegation to the next Internet Governance Forum (IGF), taking place in Egypt in a fortnight, took the front burner, as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) stakeholders gathered in Lagos to brainstorm on the way forward.

The forum tagged Internet Governance: Creating opportunities for all Nigerians, the forum saw every speaker offering solutions on how best to table the nation’s interests at the IGF given the fact that the internet world is virtually at intersection on the way forward after the United States let go the control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently.

Lobbying, the route to growth:
Speaking on the relevance of the forum the chairman at the occasion, Chief Chima Onyekwere, said the event could not have come at a better time, noting that the presence of students is an indication that in 20 years, many of them would be equipped enough to take charge in the ICT sector.

He called on associations within the sector to pursue advocacy and act as pressure groups and catalyst to bring about the needed change in the sector. Lobbying, he said, is important at this stage of ICT development in the country and only through that could the dreams of the sector be fulfilled.

IGF is multi-stakeholders:
On his part, the President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said that the IGF is a multi-stakeholders’ forum and that an agency of government should have taken charge of this pre-IGF forum, but said the organizers, Digital Sense Africa (DSA), should be commended for taking up the initiative.

Mr. Ajayi who spoke on NIG and Internet governance, said the IGF came as a result of pressure all over the world for autonomy of ICANN, which gave birth to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia 2005, after the first phase was held in Geneva in 2003, metamorphosing into a yearly forum for solution on the governance of the internet.

He identified security, access, diversity, openness and internet governance as the areas on which discussions will be based at the forthcoming IGF slated to hold in Egypt and a failure by any nation including Nigeria to align itself with the aforementioned and adequately represented in these discussions will mean that other nations will decide for such a nation.

On diversity, he said, the issue will be that of language, wondering that the world over, there are about 3 billion people, and China accounts for over one billion, yet only English language has dominated Internet content. He also noted that on access, that every Nigerian must be connected as a right rather than a privilege.

Nigerians must take interest in .ng
For the Vice President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma, the issue of the nation’s position on IGF is beyond the government or any single association, but a collective national issue. She highlighted the importance of the Internet, saying that the era of voice only in telecommunication diffusion is over and that the world is now focusing on ‘data.’

“Internet governance is not restricted to the activities of governments. Many different types of stakeholders have a role in defining and carrying out Internet governance activities and Internet Society (ISOC) for instance, has always been an active leader in such discussions. When governance is mentioned, there must be some conjecture of politics. Politics, we all are aware is a game of numbers. The purpose of this forum is possibly to articulate ways and means for Nigeria to wield overwhelming influence in Internet governance,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Uduma who spoke on Internet Governance: The role of NiRA noted that though it may sound scandalous but statistics as at March, 2009, indicated that Africa still lags behind with less than 1 million domain names under Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) in the region.

She warned that the United States (US) and the West will continue to wield the greatest influence in Internet Governance if the appetite for generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) is not curbed. Noting that ISOC positions, for instance, supports an open and globally accessible Internet.

IGF, is multi-stakeholder driven:

By the Tunis agenda, she said, the IGF should be multilateral, multi-stakeholder, democratic, and transparent, with all stakeholders playing their appropriate roles. And most importantly, IGF is a negotiating forum but not a decision-making body. Instead, the idea is for IGF to be constituted as a neutral, non-duplicative, and non-binding process.

“It would have no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet. It is to be a place where issues could be explored in an open environment,” she said, stressing that in practice, IGF has proven to be a place where issues are ‘conditioned’ through a developmental process.

On the activities of NIRA, she said it was set up to play a very critical role in the Domain Name System (DNS) and as managers of the Nigerian country code top level domain (ccTLD), .ng. This stakeholder-led association, Mrs. Uduma said, has the oversight function of what portends to be the largest registry in Africa going by the nation’s population index in the continent.

“But it is foregone that in the final analysis, a successful registry would not be attained as a result of the share magnitude of the country’s population. It would take diligent planning, finance and execution,” Mrs. Uduma stressed.

She further said NIRA is ready to position .ng as the leading ccTLD in Africa and ultimately, one of the foremost domains in the world, because the cost of registering domains under this platform is very cheap. “We are poised to build a pace-setting environment where the usage of the domain name service will be harmonious, and inherently become a model system in the industry,” she said.

NiRA, she said, is committed to become the administrators of and the non-governmental self-regulatory body for the .ng ccTLD and its associated sub-level domain as well as promoting the operational stability and utility of the .ng ccTLD by ensuring cost effective administration, development and establishment of policy frameworks for the advancement of .ng.

IXPN enthrones cheap access:
The Chief executive officer, Internet eXchange Point Nigeria (IXPN) Limited, Mr. Muhammed Rudman, dwelling on ‘IXPN: Creating Opportunities for all Nigerians,’ said the concept of an Internet exchange point is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks locally.

“An IXP interconnects Internet service providers (ISPs) in a region or country, allowing them to exchange domestic Internet traffic locally without having to send those messages across multiple international hubs to reach their destination,” he said.

Before now, he said, a message would travel from one part of the country to Europe and America before reaching its destination which is in another part of the country.
“Imagine travelling to Lagos, London, New York, finally to arrive at Ibadan at a high cost, low speed, small capacity and low reliability,” he asserted.

… Saves money:
On the benefit of Internet eXchange points to the nation, Rudman said, it saves money, traffic going overseas, which entails transit charges paid to the upstream ISP; reduces foreign exchange and capital flight as the money stays in local economy and provides better local infrastructure and services for customers

Others, he outlined to include customers pay less for Internet access, therefore, more customers sign up, better business and enhance local connectivity and improve internet experience of end users and creates new revenue opportunity as customers use the Internet for more products, services, and activities.

On the way forward, Rudman said his office is collaborating with NgNOG to connect all higher educational institutions in Lagos, to connect to the exchange point towards the establishment of National Research & Education Network (NREN); Private Public Partnership (PPP) in the establishment of other IXPs across the country and inter-IXP backbone link; localization of Google, Microsoft to name a few as well as deployment of Content Distribution Network (CDN), for instance, Akamai ; Massive campaign for local content development and interconnection of all West African IXPs.

7-point agenda for IGF:
Equally speaking, the Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) Mr. Gbenga ‘Sesan advocated, what he called the 7-Point Agenda for IGF. These, he listed to include “Access, diversity, openness, security, critical Internet resources, development and capacity building.”

He said, building opportunity for young people would involve new generation skills, such as web 2.0; facebook, twitter to name a few.

“Who says there are no jobs? There are jobs, there are just no skilled people to take them,” he declared, stressing that capacity building is not just in technology skills but business skills and attitude.

Mr. Sesan who spoke on ‘Internet Governance and Nigerian youths’ recommended that every misdirected young cybercriminal is a potential human resource, who could be engaged in order to redirect such energies.

Why pre-IGF is vital:

Speaking earlier, the organizer of the event and executive director, Digital Sense Africa (DSA), Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke said the purpose of the forum is to act as a rallying point for the nation’s internet stakeholders in raising and addressing salient issues concerning the ICT sector with particular reference to the internet governance-related issues.

She said apart from providing a platform for stakeholders to articulate a stand on IGF, the relevance of fighting poverty across the continent with the instrumentality of ICT was also a motivating factor.

“Poverty in Africa is wide spread and without the ability to communicate, the continent would remain poor and isolated, thus lacking the means to participate in the global society especially for women and youths,” she said.

She also identified poor power supply, lack of economic power, lack of enabling laws and the inability to understand the enormous potentials inherent in technology with reference to the internet, as some of the obstacles on the way to greater internet access in the country.

Just as she commended the likes of Galaxy Backbone plc, iWayAfrica Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Teledom Group and New Horizons for finding it worthy to partner her DSA on this laudable programme to move the nation forward.

Above all, the Nigeria Internet community has taken the bull by the horn at the Digital Sense forum, but the next step is to ensure that Nigeria is well represented at the IGF 2009, especially from the government.


*JOIN our alert's group | Share stories with us | Advert placement: WhatsApp | SMS: +2348033592762 *Twitter: @ITREALMS *Email: itrealms.dsa@gmail.com*

No comments: