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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Internet: Forum canvasses easier access to Nigerians

Participants at a one-day forum on Internet Governance, which recently ended in Lagos, have canvassed for Internet access to Nigerians to be seen as fundamental.

The forum was organized by Digital Sense Africa (DSA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and supported by stakeholders and industry operators.

A communiqué endorsed by the Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, noted that the forum held at Golden Gate Paradise, Ikoyi-Lagos, and attended by over 500 members of the nation’s internet community, dwelt on theme:
“Internet Governance Forum: The Way Forward for Nigeria.”

Part of the 12-point agenda from the forum stated, “Internet access should be seen as fundamental to human development and capacity building of Nigerians.”

While reiterating the need to coordinate the position of the Nigerian Internet community through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in recognition of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) push for the involvement of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development, she said, participants received the received the report of the Presidential Inter-Ministerial Committee on WSIS outcome in review of the nation’s efforts since 2005.

“We recognized the effective participation of governments and all stakeholders in developing an Information-based society requiring cooperation and partnership among all of them,” she said.

Equally, she said participants recognized the fact that the Internet has become the centre of modern businesses in the country, the sub-region and African continent as a whole, anchored on the belief that the future lies on the Internet.

Besides, the forum commended the present collaborative efforts between the government and the private sector being champion by Digital Sense Africa, in empowering the Nigerian populace on the values embedded on the Internet, more so in alerting the Nigeria government and officials on the need to have a common front prior to the engagement of the world at the fifth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) scheduled to hold in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 14-17, 2010.

They acknowledged security as a major issue of concern for the Nigerian Internet community, but noted that while its being discussed at all levels, stakeholders should not despair, as the platform offered the Nigerian Internet community the opportunity once again to assemble and deliberate on how to take advantage of the available Internet Access, its Openness to address issues on Security, Diversity and its Governance.

Apart from reaffirming support on the release of ‘Affirmation of Commitment’ to the global internet community via the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), by the US government through its Department of Commerce (DoC); the forum welcomed the recent court judgment over the controversial 2.3GHz spectrum in Nigeria, saying its reassuring on independence of NCC and the need to move forward through this spectrum allocation intended to boost ICT in the country.

She said that in living up to the call by the West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) at Accra in 2009 as part of efforts at advancing Internet Governance related issues more seriously among stakeholders, the forum identified 12-key issues, including that members of the Nigeria Internet community must be encouraged to participate at the fifth Internet Governance Forum, either individually, group or remotely.

“Make it abundantly known to the global Internet community that Nigeria and Nigerians are very interested in the fight against cyber-related crimes purportedly emanating from Nigeria-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.; Urged international internet community to help Nigeria by making sure that only those engaging in fraudulent practices should have their Internet Protocol addresses barred from Internet transactions.

The forum noted that there are several online startups that Nigerians and the youths precisely could involve themselves without being fraudulent, just as parental care was identified as crucial if the fight against ‘yahoo, yahoo boys’ is to be won, by way of their setting up guidelines on either mobile phones or computers of their wards.

“In fact, they should show interest in what their wards are doing online,” part of the communiqué read.

While tasking both the government of Nigeria and Internet community in the country to continue on the enlightenment of the citizenry, participants called for regular interactions; even as both individual and corporate organisations were charged to localize their online presence by patronizing the nation’s Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), .ng, being managed by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA).

“.ng was recognized as a goldmine only if Nigeria Internet community can take it up and fly it on the Internet, so as for it to develop alongside other similar ccTLDs o the continent, of course not without challenges like the lack of adequate public power supply, among others,” the communiqué read.

Additionally, participants highlighted the importance of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), stressing the danger of being left behind, even as the forum lamented that about 10 per cent of IPv4 is still unused on the continent and called for the set up of Nigeria Internet Registry to harmonize what is available and monitor the improvement and implementation of IPv6 as the new Internet.

“The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecom operators were encouraged to ensure that their equipments comply with IPv6 specifications to boost deployment of the IP in the country; The urgency for members of the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), to connect with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) was stressed, in order to keep local Internet local and save foreign exchange for the country,” the forum observed.

The maintained that participation of more Nigerians as Internet continues to be readily available for the populace, especially on mobile is crucial if the nation must cultivate the good nature of internet usage, while urging the National Assembly to speed up actions on the Cyber crime related bill(s), but first of all ensuring harmonization of various bills relating to the same subject to hasten the acceptance of electronic evidence in the country and court trials.

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