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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WAIGF urges ECOWAS to ratify data protection law

A three-day West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) ended in the city of Lagos with participants urging countries in the sub-region to curb cybercrime emanating from the zone.

This, they said, would be achieved with the ratification and domestication of the personal data protection legislation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Participants in a communiqué made available to ITRealms Online by the chairperson of WAIGF Consortium, Ms Nnenna Nwakanma, called on the governments in the sub-region to take adequate measures on the fight against cybercrime.

“We encourage governments to ratify and domesticate ECOWAS legislations on personal data protection,” part of the communiqué read.

They also called for the implementation of the universal access policies of the various West African countries to improve affordable Internet access in rural and underserved areas.

The consortium made of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), AfriNIC, the Internet Society (ISOC), the Panos Institute West Africa, Diplo Foundation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Association For Progressive communication (APC), noted an urgent need for better sensitization of the public on Internet governance and the activities of WAIGF within the global, regional and national hemisphere.

“To ensure the sustainability of the forum, stakeholders should support the establishment of a WAIGF Secretariat which, among other things, will support national and regional IGFs,” the group stated.

Additionally, they encouraged documentation of the WAIGF’s deliberations to help keep track of progress towards the attainment of the goals and objectives of the forum.

Stakeholders within the sub-region, the consortium pointed out, should be encouraged to conduct research into all aspects of Internet Governance within the sub-region.

Even as they invited all stakeholders to have their hands on the deck by implementing various strategic plans to ensure that West Africa is a major global Internet player.

Participants at the event hosted by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and facilitated by DigitalSENSE Africa, stated that governments as major players should actively participate in, and create an enabling environment for greater public participation in Internet Governance Forums.

The Nwakanma-led consortium pointed out that WAIGF should form strategic partnerships to ensure sustainability and funding of the forum as well as constructively engaging the media within the sub-region on IGF activities and discussions.

They charged governments to establish a synergy between the sectors sharing responsibility for national vocational education, energy, telecommunications, transport and water management to streamline the investment expenditure in infrastructure that benefit availability and access of all to the Internet at lower cost.

“Governments should enact legislation to make the Internet an official tool of communication between governments and citizens, enable them access services without constraint,” they said.

In addition, they enjoined governments and its agencies to partner with stakeholders, including the private sector and the media in educating and enlightening the populace on Internet Governance.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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