Call for applications for 2018 open until 16 June!

Are you a current or potential leader in internet governance forums and debates in Africa?

Do you want to deepen your understanding of the “multistakeholder” approach to internet-related policy making?

Whether you are a policy maker, a researcher, a regulator, an engineer, a journalist, an entrepreneur or a gender equality and human rights defender – if you care about internet policy in Africa, AfriSIG is for you!

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the African Union Commission are pleased to announce the call for applications for the sixth African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG). The 2018 School will coincide with the sixth African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) which will take place in October 2018 in Sudan. Exact dates are still to be confirmed.

AfriSIG’s primary goal is to give Africans from multiple sectors and stakeholder groups the opportunity to gain knowledge that will enable them to participate confidently and effectively in national, regional and global internet governance processes and debates.

Curriculum

The School is structured as a five-day intensive learning and knowledge-sharing event which covers:

  • An overview of internet governance concepts, issues and institutions
  • Internet architecture, infrastructure, standards and protocols and management of internet names and numbers
  • Internet governance and social issues: gender, human rights and development
  • Cybersecurity, multistakeholder approaches and emerging issues in internet governance such as algorithms and the internet of things.

The highlight of the school is a practicum in which participants have to tackle an actual internet-related policy challenge and come up with an agreed solution or statement.

Who can apply?

Applicants who have relevant work experience and/or involvement in internet governance or ICT policy and regulation and who are positioned to make meaningful contributions to strengthening internet governance in Africa, and African voices in internet governance globally.

The School will accept applications from current or emerging leaders and professionals from:

  • Government ministries and departments, national and regional communications regulatory authorities, and public sector information and communications services such as public libraries.
  • Members of parliament, particularly if they are involved in parliamentary portfolio committees that deal with media, communications and information technology issues.
  • Service providers and other businesses who form part of the internet industry.
  • Civil society and non-governmental organisations who interact with or operate in the internet-related information and communications sector.
  • Human rights institutions dealing with internet issues, such as national or regional human rights commissions.
  • Community-based information and communications services and the broader community informatics sector.
  • The judiciary and other members of the legal community working with internet and communications law.
  • Members of law enforcement agencies who deal with internet issues.
  • The internet technical community.
  • Academic and research institutions that deal with internet issues.
  • Media organisations and outlets that focus on the internet. Individual bloggers and journalists who focus on the internet are also encouraged to apply.
Funding opportunities

The AfriSIG organisers have a limited number of scholarships available for successful applicants. These will cover air travel, shared accommodation and meal costs for the duration of the School. Successful applicants have the option of staying in a single room, but they would need to cover the additional cost themselves. Self-funded and sponsored participants are encouraged to apply. All participants, even those who are awarded scholarships, will be expected to pay their own local transport expenses and visa fees.

To apply please complete the form here by Friday 16 June 2018. Please note that as part of the application, you will be required to upload a recent CV, two reference letters and a letter of financial commitment should you be self-funded For more information, visit the AfriSIG website or contact the AfriSIG organiser, Koliwe Majama at afrisig@apc.org.

AfriSIG footprints/More about AfriSIG

AfriSIG is part of the growing global community of practice for promoting and strengthening active multistakeholder participation in internet governance spaces. Similar internet governance schools are held in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The first AfriSIG took place in 2013 in Durban, South Africa, followed by Mauritius in 2014, Ethiopia in 2015, South Africa in 2016 and Egypt in 2017.

Over the years, AfriSIG has built a multidisciplinary cadre of expertise in internet governance on the continent through the participation of current and emerging leaders drawn from government, business, academia and civil society. The diversity of participants emphasises the school’s objective of enhancing multistakeholder cooperation in national to global internet policy and development. A tracer study that examines the impact on individual participants over the first four rounds of the school reflects what a huge positive difference it has made in their perceptions and careers.

In 2017 the School was awarded with a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize for international and regional cooperation.

 By Tawanda Maguze

My debut appearance at the African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) 2017 was certainly an eye opener in respect of a lot of very important issues related to internet governance, without doubt one of best spaces to start engaging with internet governance issues on continental level.

Distinctively, AfriSIG is a rich melting-pot of professional backgrounds, nationalities, ages, expertise and many other persuasions. This in my view made for very rich ground for networking and getting a multidimensional feel of internet governance issues across Africa under one roof.

But by far my take-back-home session was cybersecurity. I must note here that from the onset the conversation starter ringing in my head was: Should cybersecurity even be an issue of concern for the average users of the internet here in Africa? Could we probably have other “more important” issues to be addressing expeditiously and leave this for some time in the future? The conversations during the school, while very insightful, only cast me farther away from answering these questions.

I have always wanted to engage with this topic and learned as much as I could, and of course, it just simply sounds cool, more like something out of a science-fiction movie. It is exactly for this sci-fi feel that makes it an issue for me. Cybersecurity is a secondary issue that is quite easily subordinated to access here in Africa. Progressive conversations during AfriSIG 2017 built and supported the feel of a lopsided focus on the internet governance aspect, in the cybersecurity debate. My sense is an asymmetrical focus around consensus building on terminology and legislative approaches. In my view, some really high-level issues, versus basic literacy on how to safely navigate online spaces. If the ratification of cybersecurity conventions is anything to go by, then the debate on cybersecurity is really still stuck up there in international diplomacy clouds.

When it comes to the high-level conversations, ordinary consumers/users are more or less just passive audiences. This may justifiably be so, because more than anything ordinary internet users lack either the means or the comprehension capability to participate in the “conversations that matter” covering the issues that affect them most. What is undeniable, however, is that conversations about the internet in Africa, particularly the least developed regions, circle mainly around access and connectivity, and yet security as a theme should be running in parallel.

Internet users are no longer just consumers of online content, but also producers, something a colleague at the AfriSIG2017 school referred to as prosumers, fashioned from the two words producers and consumers. These prosumers are definitely relevant and often the missing voices in the high-level dialogues on cybersecurity issues, shaping internet governance. So, at the end of the day it’s not a question of whether internet users should be concerned with cybersecurity issues or not, but rather how cybersecurity can run parallel with other immediate issues such as access.

There is arguably an unavoidable interest in the centrality of cybersecurity issues to general human development in Africa, where the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will hinge on leveraging ICTs and the internet. Some simple examples relate to how Africa leads the world in money transfers using mobile phones, with 14% of all Africans receiving money through mobile transfers as quoted in the Symantec 2016 Africa Cyber Security 2016 report. Zimbabwe’s Ecocash, One Wallet, Telecash, as well as Kenya’s M-Pesa and many other examples across Africa, certainly paint a picture of hope of how Africa is potentially leapfrogging itself into some future alongside global leaders such as Europe and the United States. Cybersecurity becomes a more critical issue when one considers how ICTs, connected online, have the potential to contribute to growth in areas such as health (telemedicine), education (resource access) and energy. Public dialogue on cybersecurity should therefore be an absolute priority.

So then what’s my point from all the reflection I made during AfriSIG 2017?

Well, simply put, ordinary internet users have not been sufficiently included in the cybersecurity conversations. They lack the means and capability to participate properly and ultimately cannot afford to be part of the process. The “prosumer” is the most important stakeholder in a multistakeholder process. The language and content of discussions on cybersecurity need to be understandable to everyone.

Yeyyy to AfriSIG 2017 for getting us to talk about this. We will definitely be taking the conversation back home to Zimbabwe.

 

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