By Sheila Nsekanabo

Taking part in the 5th African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) taught me the definition of internet governance, which is defined as the handling of technical coordination required for and policy issues related to the interoperability and smooth functioning of the different components of internet infrastructure and the exchange of information over the internet.

The knowledge I acquired

I was able to understand that:

  • There are established cybersecurity policies and laws at the international level, and yet the majority of African states do not have proper cyberlaws to protect their citizens.
  • There are influential frameworks and conventions to be practiced, while ensuring that law enforcement powers are subject to safeguards and that rule of law and human rights requirements are met.
  • Knowing that internet security is expensive and capacity building is important, cybersecurity strategies should be adopted to protect citizens and especially women from cyberattacks. This follows a saying, that “prevention is better than a cure.”
  • There should be a more focused awareness among organisations on the need for security policies and practices as part of their overall risk management strategy. This can be achieved through providing educational awareness to women and the youth as discussed during one of the sessions.
  • The limited levels of awareness of ICT-related issues by stakeholders, i.e. regulators, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, information technology personnel, among others, can lead to much more increased insecurities in different African states.
  • There is a need to promote better infrastructure to help bridge the gap between the people and the technical world through development of skills, i.e. research and capacity building in order to deal with cybersecurity at the social, educational, economic and political levels.
  • It is important to create a climate of confidence and trust to work towards resolutions of disputes; clarity on women and the law is especially needed. This climate should be protective towards women, secured through striking a proper balance between legal and technological security, and integrated into the international order while promoting meaningful articulation between the national, regional and global level.
  • I have come to understand as well that cybersecurity is a process that belongs to all stakeholders: the youth, women, children, civil society, intergovernmental organisations, the business sector and society at large in all aspects.

What I was most interested in

What interested me the most in the process of learning was the term “Internet of Things”. This, as I understood, is a network of physical devices and items embedded with software and network connectivity. The Internet of Things is becoming an increasingly growing topic as experienced in AfriSIG; and I have learned that it is a concept that not only has the potential to impact on how we live but also how we work. There are a lot of complexities around the Internet of Things, and as the session went on, it became too technical for me to catch up. This was a new term for me and I am glad that I have been able to leave with knowledge about how the Internet of Things works.

Given the fact that I work on issues concerning the women-first approach, I have come to terms with the fact that the ICT industry is much concerned as well about women’s issues in terms of human rights and gender inclusiveness. Although this is a little on a low level, it seemed silent on the outside. However, after attending the school, I am glad that there is a level on which women’s issues are presented and that gender issues have an influence.

My recommendations and questions

I would wish for AfriSIG to be more articulate on issues concerning “women first” in internet governance.

I would also like to know what happens after AfriSIG: are we allowed to take on or assume roles back home? Offer educational briefings to our colleagues? Is there a follow-up process and perhaps funding for some of these conferences if we want to educate other beneficiaries? And what should be the process for this?


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