Emilar Vushe is APC’s Africa Projects Coordinator of the Communications and Information Policy Programme. Prior to joining APC, she worked as a researcher both in Zimbabwe and South Africa, mainly focusing on public information rights and human rights. She is a graduate of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe.
Participating in the second African Internet Governance School was incredibly useful – at a personal and professional level. Interacting with over 70 people from more than 50 countries is an experience that is indescribable. It is a highly interactive course which equipped participants with the history, technical, legal underpinnings of the internet and its key international policy issues. Through the ‘practicum’ the students were equipped with real life experience working on a topical issue in a multistakeholder setting. The school also provided a rich networking opportunity for people who are not usually in the same circles; government officials, academics, politicians, human rights activists, geeks and youths.
‘Why should we be concerned about Internet Governance? Is it really a priority for Africa?’I am always asked these questions:. What I am taking back home is the reminder that: As Africans, we are internet users and how it is run affects us. The Internet has proven to be a powerful tool for development, economic growth and promotion of human rights, providing citizens with an avenue to exercise free expression. While our policy makers, regulators, private sector and civil society in Africa struggle with “who should manage the internet” – Internet governance is global news. It is one of the most important global issues today – and yes Africa should prioritise it.
We need to determine our own positions and participate in the debate at national, regional and international level. Africa and other developing regions have little meaningful participation at global internet governance level and this dilutes the influence of developing countries. The school is one way we can develop leaders in Internet Governance so that they become effective advocates for their strategic interests and actively influence global governance outcomes.
I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in the development and use of ICT infrastructure; human rights and the internet. When you participate in the school you do not only gain academic knowledge – you join a community of people who are interested in the development of Africa. Learning about Internet Governance is a continuous process. The learning did not stop when we left Mauritius – we have an online space where we interact with each other, share resources and engage in debates on ICT policy.