by Moipone Mhlekwa
The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) 2017 has been both an eye opener and learning curve. When coming here I had no idea of the kind of impact and paradigm shift this school would have on me. Initially I had thought that I would come to the school and maybe learn a few things, then go back home and start influencing internet governance.
However, the experience has over-exceeded my expectations. I am originally from Lesotho, which in my opinion, and from the statistics provided by Chenai Chair (on how connected is Africa), is one of the least connected African state. I have learned that access is influenced by a number of factors, like affordability, cultural bias and the gender divide in internet use. I do reiterate that universal service fund (USF) offices do have a major role to play in getting nations connected, but let us not ignore the fact that they also face financial restraints or sometimes the funds are just not enough and projects are postponed due to lack of funding.
One of my most valuable take-home lessons is the multistakeholder approach in all issues concerning internet governance. This, for me, means that the multistakeholder approach is a tool for getting things done. It is my opinion that one of the issues stifling internet growth in Africa is the underutilisation of the multistakeholder approach. In Lesotho we have a non-existent civil society and a disinterested government. This has greatly affected internet development.
From my participation and interaction in this school, I have learned the following:
- We have to get Africa connected first.
- Each and every stakeholder is important in the growth and development of the internet.
- African states can no longer afford to ignore cybersecurity issues.
- Internet awareness begins with each and every individual.