" ITREALMS: Nigeria Digital Sense forum, timely – Akunyili

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Nigeria Digital Sense forum, timely – Akunyili

Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili has commended Digital Sense Africa (DSA) for organizing the Nigeria Digital Sense forum, which served as the nation’s prelude to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) scheduled to hold in Egypt next week.

She also said the event provided a platform for creating opportunities for harmonizing a common strategy for the nation’s position at the IGF.

Prof. Akunyili whose goodwill message was delivered by the Director, Lagos Operations at the Federal Radio Corporation (FRCN), Ms. Boma Kalaiwo, also said the nation cannot afford to be at the backstage when other nations would be marshalling their positions at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) organized event.

The forum tagged ‘Internet Governance: Creating opportunities for all Nigerians,’ saw speakers proffering solutions on how best to table the nation’s interests at IGF given the fact that the internet world is virtually at a crossroad on the way forward after the United States relinquished control of ICANN.

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 at the event was an indication that in 20 years, many of them would be equipped enough to take charge in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

Onyekwere who is also the chairman, Linkserve Group, called on associations within the sector to pursue advocacy and act as pressure groups and catalyst to bring about change. According to him, lobbying is useful and only through that could the dreams of the sector be fulfilled.

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 should be commended for taking the initiative.

Mr. Ajayi, who doubles as the chief executive, PiNet Informatics, while speaking on NIG and Internet governance, said the IGF was as a result of pressure all over the world for autonomy of ICANN and it will be held yearly until a solution is finally found on the governance of the internet.

He identified security, access, diversity, openness and internet governance as the areas on which discussions will be based and a failure by the nation to align and be adequately represented in these discussions will mean that others will decide for such nations.

On diversity, he said the issue will be that of language, wondering that of the world over 3 billion population, China accounts for over one billion and yet only English language dominated the Internet, stressing that on access, every Nigerian must be connected as a right rather than a privilege.

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.

Pointing out the importance of the internet, she said the era of voice is over and that the world is now talking data, especially in Nigeria.

Speaking earlier, the organizer of the event and executive director, operations, Digital Sense Africa (DSA), Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said, the purpose of the forum was 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 also said that 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 declared.

Equally, she 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.

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