The Nigerian government has subscribed to a free and secure Internet for Africa, which is capable of bridging the digital divide and creating innovative opportunities within the continent.
Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, who canvassed this position at the just-concluded Africa Internet Governance Forum in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, said the Nigerian Government is committed to engendering necessary collaborations and international dialogues to achieve these objectives.
The Minister, who addressed the forum virtually, said Nigeria, as the largest telecommunications market in Africa, is conscious of all the dynamics of emerging technologies around Internet usage and would continue to work with countries in Africa on different fronts to ensure that the Internet is effectively governed so its innumerable resources can be leveraged for citizens and nation’s growth.
“The need for our consistent collaboration to develop our economy collectively is preeminent in the agenda of the current administration in Nigeria. It is through this kind of forum that we can bridge the digital divides, enhance cybersecurity, ensure digital rights and foster innovation. It is, therefore, our collective duty to ensure that the Internet remains open, safe and beneficial for all,” Tijani told parliamentarians and other participants from Africa who attended the forum in Abuja.
The Minister encouraged all the stakeholders to prioritise a collaborative approach to creating policies and strategies that will shape the future of the Internet in Africa, the future that will reflect Africa’s shared values, aspirations and diversity.
Tijani specially commended the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other agencies that constituted the Local Organising Committee (LOG), on behalf of the Nigerian government as well as all sponsors, for a successful 2023 AfIGF. The Minister was delighted that their effective planning and dedication to driving change in Africa’s digital future is commendable.
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who, at the opening and closing ceremony of the event as well as in panel discussions, provided insights on NCC’s commitment to driving a secure Internet ecosystem in Nigeria through various regulatory initiatives. Danbatta stated that Nigeria has attained tremendous growth in broadband penetration, basic Internet usage, and voice subscriptions and recorded impressive contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The NCC CEO said that, as Nigeria hosted this year’s edition of the AfIGF, the country was focused on sharing experiences with other sister nations in Africa as well as learning from the AfIGF parliamentarians from Africa who gathered at the forum to collectively drive the frontiers of the ideals of proper utilization of Internet resources to promote socio-economic development on the African continent.
Chief of the Section on Innovation and Technology at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Dr Mactar Seck, thanked the NCC and all entities of government that provided support and played a great role in ensuring the success of the event, said with a forum such as the AfIGF, African nations can continue to aggregate views that allow them to speak with one voice to get greater benefits for African economic development.
“I sincerely thank the EVC of the NCC, Prof. Danbatta, who is playing a great role in the development of digital technology in Nigeria. I also appreciate the AfIGF Secretary General, other sister agencies, and the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) that made the event successful,” he said.
Also speaking at the weeklong event, the Secretary of the African Parliamentary Network on Internet Governance, Honourable Samuel George of Ghana, called for free Internet “that is inclusive, safe and secured for all citizens of Africa.” He said this can only be achieved through collaborative effort by coming together to build an inclusive Africa.
“For Africa to be self-sufficient, it must create an enabling environment and laws and provide digital infrastructures for young innovators to strive. This will, in turn, promote indigenous and local content development in technological development,” George said.
This year’s edition of the AfIGF with the theme: “Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation”, which took place at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, provided yet another veritable platform for African countries to discuss germane issues that will pave the way for the development of a more robust digital economy in the continent.
Meanwhile, after the event, a communique was issued detailing resolutions made at the event and concrete recommendations, based on which Danbatta urged the participants to ensure effective implementations when they return to their respective countries ahead of next year’s forum.
Before the AfIGF, which started from September 19-23, 2023, the 11th Africa School of Internet Governance (AfriSIG), took place from September 13-18, 2023 and was facilitated by the Association for Progressive Communications, the Africa Union, Research ICT Africa, the Africa Parliamentary Track and the United Nations-IGF Secretariat and the Africa Youth IGF.