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IGF 2017 - Day 0 - Salle 18 - Reflections from the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> LILLIAN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Lillian (?).  We have a few of us in the room, but we have until 2:30 or 3:00.  We hope other people will join us.  My name is Lillian Aruna Naggelia.  We are working ‑‑ we are an ICT group.  We are working with promoting Internet freedom.  We are here to share lessons learned, connections, agendas, and those we aim to push for and those we pushed for in Internet freedom in Africa.  We hope you have interesting insights.  I would love to hear your experience as well.  Today, I'm here with three of my colleagues, Dr. Walkaby (?)and Madam Julia from Africa, who will take us through a presentation on some of the things that we have been able to capture since we started on this program on promoting Internet freedom in Africa.  Without much further ado, I would give the mic to Julia as we wait for others to join us.

>> JULIA: Can I jump to that side?  Okay.  Good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you for joining us at this day 0 activity.  We understand it is one of the most challenging days to get people together.  We appreciate your presence here, your commitment to understanding what Internet freedom in Africa is all about.  But also look forward to getting a bit of insight to you and what we're going to be sharing.  We're going to be looking at our event titled the FIFAfrica where we really get together to understand what the trends are, vision is, challenges are, and what to do about it as digital rights advocates.  Not only Africa, but beyond.

Thanks for your time here, appreciate you joining us.  We won't keep you too long.  We welcome your questions, thoughts, anything you may have to say, as we go through our little presentation here.  So please do not hold back.  You are welcome to make any comments, raise your hand on anything that you may have.  CIPESA, Lillian pointed out what we do some there.  We are how old?  We're 13.  We are a teenager doing great things, but we're very well behaved.  Yes. 

So a bit of the work we do includes projects around open net Africa.  The first logo listed there.  And also around democracy.  We look at projects in East Africa.  In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.  We look at ICT and look for ‑‑ we do quite a bit of research, quite a bit of practical application of the research.  We do workshops on digital security, with the human rights defenders, generalists and various minority communities in the various countries we work in.  But we also explore the issue ‑‑ on the project of ask your rights in Uganda.  We ask the citizens to openly ask or challenge the state with concerns they have with regards to information they are seeking. 

So on the side there, we have a bit more what we do for each of the areas.  That got a lot of policy, analysis.  We do a lot of research as an organization.  We also host digital security workshops, as I mentioned earlier.  We also bring people together.  CIPESA, in its name, CIPESA has the word collaboration.  We try to live up to that very word and activities that we do bringing various people together.  We do quite a bit of advocacy.  And the ICT policy and policy workshops. 

So what is the forum on Internet freedom about?  Why do we need to have such engagement on the continent?  For starters, as an organization, we realize there is a critical need to have the discussions take place within the continent.  You can see here, we struggled to get here from whichever parts of the world we have come from.  So imagine how much harder it is for some of us in developing countries to come up to said spaces.  So why not have similar discussions in grounds closer to home, where we are more in touch with what is happening and can reach out a lot more people who for the most part are quite removed in these discussions in such a space anyway.  The Internet governance, you mention it, their mind turns out.  How do we bring them into such conversations and how do we keep them interested in the efforts that take place at such spaces?  So that's why ‑‑ one of the reasons I came up with the forum. 

But as an entity, the forum identifies opportunities to bring debates together, bring up debates in the importance of human rights online.  Sometimes we work with people who are advocating for human rights but they may mot understand the human rights to digital rights.  How do you bridge that connection?  That is one of the areas we're trying to address at FIFAfrica.  But also, as part of the forum, we want to walk away with recommendations that have been collectively built by the participants at the forum.

We also seek to build alliances and collaborations between the people to advance various Internet rights.  On that point, let's take note of the need to build recommendations by the audience.  You need to advance the work that is taking place.

Ultimately, we're responding to the need to convene an African audience in Africa on the issues.  If I am going too fast.  Let me know, I'm sometimes competing with the various rappers in the hip‑hop scene.  So yes.  Let us continue now.  Now, the laptop is not moving.

The forum was first held in 2014 in Uganda.  It was a small engagement.  We had about 80 people there.  We had a few countries present.  Just six countries in the room.  But we still, despite the small number of countries, the issues that emerged were similar across a whole lot more countries in the region.  For that discussion we had a few topics we explored in the one‑day activity.  This included discussion on the security, media, online safety and need to develop regional and national Internet freedom strategies.  And as part of that first forum and Internet freedom in Africa, we released our very first report on the state of Internet freedom in Africa.  That was in 2014. 

That set a trend that we have lived up to until 2017.  In 2015, we doubled the number of participants to more ‑‑ more than doubled, rather, the number of participants to over 200 people.  Around 200 participants.  We had 19 countries represented at the forum.  Of course, with the larger number of countries represented, we had the wider pool of topics to discuss.  So we went up by ‑‑ yeah.  Well the number of topics discussed rose quite a bit.  This was reflected in the number of panel sessions we had.  In 2015, 13 panel sessions.  And topic explored included online violence against women, cybercrime, net neutrality, a growing pool of topics being discussed.  Some were discussed, we felt a need to bring them back to the table, because they remained present but may have changed in character.

Another thing we also introduced in 2015 was the recognition of accent to information in Uganda.  The country, at that time, was celebrating 10 years of access to inform law.  It was one of the first to get access to information law in the country.  I wanted to acknowledge that.  And also wanted to acknowledge governmental authorities that are living up to the notion of open data and releasing information.  In that regard, we recognized an organization, the Ministry of Lands and Housing, which had been very proactive in living up to the right to information in Uganda.  So we in 2015, recognize them by awarding them recognition for their role that they played in advancing access to information in Uganda.  For the second year running we produced a state of information freedom in Africa report.  That focused on access online.  We looked at a couple of countries in the region to understand what is happening on policy, the trends taking place, picked up a couple of arrests. 

Retrogressive steps in policy.  Also a couple of changes in the right direction.  All of these reports are available on the CIPESA website.  We'll share a bit more information on that a bit later.  But have no fear we're not holding on to any of the information.  It is openly available to all of you here.

2016, again, a jump in the number of countries participating at the forum.  Of course, bigger number of participants at the forum.  Also in that year, we had our first digital security clinic as part of the forum.  This was in response to what was indicated as a need.  In that respect we introduced digital security clinics which picked up ‑‑ helped safeguard the people's various devices, laptops, phones, simple tools and tricks that we sometimes take for granted were shared at that forum.  In 2017 we brought back the digital security clinic, because we saw it as a need that participants have called for repeatedly and something that we saw no reason to not respond to.

In 2016, we also had our very first Internet policy training for journalists and human rights defenders.  It was a small workshop which brought together journalists in Uganda that we brought together to help understand Internet policy.  What does it mean for the media?  What does it mean for human rights?  What does it mean for freedom of expression?  So in that regard, we pooled or built the capacity of the journalists, understanding the whole notion of digital rights and how to bring them in ‑‑ how to bring the topic into the everyday report.  We had journalists doing various beats from women and gender issues through to service delivery.  So how do we bring in the argument on digital security into some of these beats that we sometimes do not include an aspect of Internet related issues on.  Again, that year we produced a report.  A trend you can see that we are keeping dear to the core and soul of the forum.

This year was our biggest forum to date.  It was the first time we expanded our footprint.  We moved from Uganda ‑‑ the forum had been hosted in Uganda from 2014 to 2016.  We moved to South Africa.  We were seeking to respond to the needs or calls of the audiences who come through to the forum.  There was a call, we responded, we took it there. 

Again, there, we had wider pool of conversations taking place.  We expanded the time it run over.  It lasted four days.  Due to the introduction of very ‑‑ how can I describe it?  Specific workshop sessions, to again, build the network of digital security or rather digital rights, defender, advocates on the continent.  We had sessions on strategic conversation.  It is something that should be happening.  So we had a very insightful workshop on that.  We had conversation on how to get involved in the various global mechanisms.  How do we get issues from a local level elevated to the national and to the global level?  So we had various workshops looking at issues like that.

We also had the digital tools localization workshop, which looks at bringing in the perspective of communities not necessarily online.  How do we address their needs when it comes to digital security?  And the gain there, we had representatives from southern Africa, we had representatives from Uganda, building up a language repository for digital tools to be used.  In 2017, the first time we launched two reports running.  We.

We launched a state of African Internet freedom 2017 report and launched the calculating of the economic impact of Internet disruptions in sub‑Saharan South Africa.  It is on your desk.  If you don't have it, we have a couple more copies available at the front to take with you.  Remember, all of this is available online as well.

So what we see is a slow ‑‑ not slow, but evolution of the forum representing the needs ‑‑ one that also shows the responsiveness of the forum to the needs of the various participants.  But also the growing trends that are emerging on the continent that we should be talking about, that we should be seeking solutions for. 

Okay.  So the various reports I have been referring to are listed here, representing each of the years that we have had a forum on Internet freedom in Africa.  So while we look at the state of Internet freedom in Africa, we look at it thematically, looking at very specific concerns that emerge out of the conversations that we have at the forum and from the various workshops that we host at the various countries.  So in the first year, we looked at the general landscape of policies, what is shaping Internet freedom in East Africa?  What are the laws, the gaps, the challenges.  That laid the foundation for the reports that came after.

We looked at access, security and we saw a lot of copying and pasting between the various countries that we looked at.  But of course, with every year that comes out we're seeing new laws, new bills coming out.  Each with their own unique set of concerns.  Sometimes a step in the positive direction, but not all the time.  We need to keep track of what is happening.

A lot of reports are also form a point of reference for various policymakers.  We engage with the government officials, you know, to create a bridge of understanding.  Like this is what is happening.  This is what the civil society, academia, media community are saying about the laws coming out.  This is why we need further engagement on the various laws that come out.  So we want, inasmuch as we produce reports, we want to see action and further engagement with various parties on digital rights in Africa.  In 2016 we looked at the ways to stifle citizens' digital rights.  There are many available although many are being used by the different states.

We have seen some very unique cases of (?) being intertwined into the language of the state.  We have seen some blatant attacks of Internet freedom.  Seen arrests, general Internet shutdowns.  We have seen reported price hikes in the data cost to reduce the amount of people interacting online.  We have seen the emergence of bills on social media use coming out.  So the minute somebody says we will start monitoring social media, there is an immediate reaction of self‑censorship, what is happening in that respect.

We have seen quite a bit of policing, people policing themselves within the various social media groups, the WhatsApp groups, those are trends we seek to address at that level and understand what policies are driving this and what the gaps are.

Inasmuch as we have the forums and discuss topics, which are high level because we get a very diverse group of people in attendance, we seek for ways to bring some of this conversations to a more accessible level.  Of course, one of the most basic ways, just simple language.  Get people to understand what are you saying.  If you are a person with an academic background, governance person, speak the language that people will understand.  Inasmuch as we're having the conversation in the continent, a lot of the time, the basic language that we use is far off from our own mother tongue. 

So we seek to build relationships with communities outside of the digital rights groups.  So in this case, we worked with the creative industry.  How does an artist perceive digital rights?  How does a teacher perceive digital rights to convey it to the child?  We expand the network of those we work with and in so doing, expand the understanding of the digital rights.  This is Nimya.  She joined us in South Africa.  She visualized some of the conversations taking place.

She's visualizing what digital rights are from the United Nations.  I think this is something that people can visualize outside of the general arena.  This is about freedom of expression, access to information, right to freedom of assembly, as well as cultural rights.  Just a few of the various rights that she sought to point out. 

Laptop is doing it's own thing.  When somebody talks to you about Internet measurement, what comes to mind?  What comes to mind?  Metrics?  Yeah.  When somebody mentions Internet measurement, what comes to mind?  Michael, what comes to mind? 

>> (Indiscernible ‑ no mic)

>> JULIA: Okay.  Thank you, anybody else?  When you think of Internet measurement, what comes to mind? 

>> (Off microphone)

 

>> JULIA: Exactly.  Internet measurement is several things.  Here, a bit of that is captured in the graphic when Nimya looked at it.  She looked at speed and performance.  Do we understand the ways Internet is affected without us understanding.  Sometimes blatant, the Internet shut down.  Sometimes it is the slowing down of access.  You would be able to ‑‑ that is what your project is all about as well.  I think you will tell us a bit more about that at some point.  (Chuckling).  Actually, perhaps, I will hand over to you to give us a bit of understanding of such a method of effecting Internet access.

>> AL: I'm Al Patoka from an Internet project.  We are in Turkey and Istanbul.  We face these issues ourselves.  We built tools to solve the problems with one goal in mind, we're often in crisis, as you have seen in many countries in Africa, when you have this just in time blocking, which is an attempt to restrict people's freedom of expression or thoughts, especially during uprisings or political scandals, this kind of thing.  Recently, we're looking at reusing extending our work to cover more of the world.  It looked like a natural fit.

Last week, we looked at the situation in Ethiopia, looking at that with Moses to get some data.  It turns out locally, there isn't much measurement going on.  In this case, it is a case where the community ‑‑ the people in the community are helping each other.  A top‑down thing.  We have the same problems and can reach out, sometimes like you are saying, sometimes it is shutdowns, complete blackouts.  We need to focus our tools on getting the right answers and getting them really fast so we can push back.  That is another area where existing tools never worked, because they're one week later, which is too late.  That is an area, maybe, if you could mention some of the cases where you have been able to push back using policy and information on shutdowns.  I think that is an interesting area.

>> JULIA: Thanks for that Al.  Yes, you point out to something that which is fundamental to this discussion.  That is push back.  The case for push back is strengthened when you have measurement.  Not only random measurement, but timely measurement.  We're trying to get at information that is available more than a week later, which is the issue we currently have.  Sometimes it is late information, sometimes it is the complete absence of information.  So that is what the information, the Internet measurement argument is all about.  Thanks for that Al.  We'll definitely keep that conversation alive.  To others in the room as well, if you are keen on Internet measurements, Al is someone to talk about a well.  CIPESA is all about collaboration. 

Somalia is often forgotten about when one talks about the Internet.  We had speakers share the phenomenal landscape of information taking place in the country.  We'll be able to get more insight from the forum on the things shared there.  We have the capture of the innovation discussion.  Yes. 

I am showing the various themes and discussions taking place.  We talk big data in 2015.  The conversation in 2017 is different to what took place in 2015.  Big data, we are talking about, you know, part of the conversation there was what is the relationship to government, who owns the data, how are companies responding to data requests?

We released quite an in‑depth report on intermediaries and their level of transparency.  Perhaps Dr. Walkaby can give us more information on that report, which simply looked at the likes of Google, orange, the various intermediaries operating in the continent and the extent to which they release transparency reports.  Would you like to talk on that.

>> WALKABY: My name is Walkaby.  And I work with Julia.  The report which was referenced was released in July of this year.  And what we did was to research and analyze the request for using information.  Which was from intermediaries, and we looked at Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and various telecom operators in the African markets.  So we reviewed the period, I think from about three years ago, actually for this company's admission to when they started issuing transparency reports.  For the telecom operators, we went as far back as there was information basically to understand what information of our government is asking that the companies provide.

Now the companies responding.  Who are the Africa countries that are making most of these requests?  We discovered, of course, that an increasing number of countries are making requests to these companies.  The Google and Facebooks, but the huge majority of these requests are denied.  The reason they're denied is because they do not meet the threshold for requesting for information. 

In other words, the reasons they're giving to request the identity of users or request the take‑down of content from the platform is not justifiable, according to the standards of these organizations.  But it is worrying enough that many of them are making these requests.  One of the other notable things was that many of the telecoms that are operating in Africa are not releasing ‑‑ ATM operating in 18 countries does not release this information.  That is a pity.  There are others orange, Mira com, Viacom, which is globally, they release these reports.  In the countries where they're allowed to provide statistics, there are a lot of requests for user information that African countries are making, which should tell us we need to be all involved in asking these telecom companies to be transparent in their dealings with government, but also, to become more supportives of the efforts based citizens to have their privacy respected more and expression respected more by government, rather than simply always responding positively to government requests for information. 

If governments come and tell social media companies block information to social media, should they say yes because the government said so?  I think it is time until they have the licensing obligations where they respond to requests by government?  It is time for them to start thinking of ways in which they may contribute as citizens efforts to say, question such controversial ordinance by government.  To where it is evidently not in this day unproportionate response to block access to social media.  That's what that report tells us.  But like all the other it talked about, it is available on our website and the link and be shared later.

>> JULIA: Thank you, Walkaby.  Essentially, what we are trying to do is bridge rather difficult information to a wide audience.  If you have a look at the report, it is quite visual in its representation of the information.  Yeah, we'll share the link online.  For more people to have access to it.  But, yes, we need to get to a point where more intermediaries are releasing more information about level of user data requests they're receiving.  In this instance the fact that MTN, one of the largest operators on the continent does not release this is a large concern and we should point out in whatever capacity we can.  We need transparency reports from that organization as well.  I think that leads up to this slide well.

Need to react.  That might be a bit more proactive.  Not only reacting.  So this was a capture of the rights, Education Act and content that targets goals to be advocating for as digital right community. 

I know I have 10 minutes left of the session so rush through the remaining slides.  So this was a simple capture of what we have managed to accomplish as a forum.  Okay? 

So we have expanded on the research skills.  But also looking at the other specialized skills that are needed to really understand digital rights.  So in this respect, we have acknowledged the need for evolving research methods such as in the measurements required ‑‑ Internet measurement requirements, more current, more immediate information is required in that sense.  But as a forum, we're constantly growing the network of digital advocates.  It is great to see some of the first participants of the forum in the space, always excited about that.  But beyond that, we also want to see more submissions on laws and bills in the various countries that we work on.  I guess not only those countries that we work on but beyond those that we focus on.  We need to get more people involved in providing commentary.  Timely commentary, which is sometimes a bit of an issue when the bills are not made public.  When they are made public, we need to build a culture of comments, raising concerns, pointing out the gaps that exist in those bills.  Okay? 

So this adds up to the continued tracking of the changing trends that are taking place in the continent.  But at the forum, we have noticed that people come back and point out that it has provided a safe space for some rather difficult discussions.  We have had instances where people choose not to talk because of the concern of fear around their safety.

We have received feedback for the forum being a safe space for rather difficult discussions.  This is feedback that we really appreciate.  Because some of the countries that we worked in have proven to be rather difficult spaces.  Okay. 

But as always, we continue to spark debate and look for debate on the various aspects of Internet or digital rights. 

Yes, one of the things I pointed out earlier is expanding the skills base on the participation of, you know, the various global processes.  In this case, we have the Association for Progressive Communications come in and give an in‑depth workshop on the universal periodic review of human rights.  That lasted two days.  It was intense.  Some of the people have gone on and even here and participated at the recent IGF which took place in Egypt.  Carried those skills with them there.  Always excited to see the path that participants take after coming to the forum. 

But one of the offshoots of the forum is the use of the information that we receive there in engagements we have beyond that.  As CIPESA we host ICT workshops.  A lot of the content used are generated at the forum.  In that instance, we're bringing together the concerns from an African perspective to a particular country and trying to bridge the dots in such spaces.  So this one, I mean, in the image we had policy training in the DRC, in the middle of the year.  We were sharing insights from the 2016 workshop, which was still very relevant.  Even at almost a year later.

We had another one in Tanzania and a few others, others in Zimbabwe, Zambia and others lined up in south Susan, Botswana and other countries.  We don't want the forum to be the last point to have discussions.  We want to carry on discussions in other countries in more controlled spaces and more controlled environments where we bring, you know, the issues closer to home and connect the dots at the more national level.

The ICT policy training hosted in Zambia was part of ‑‑ perhaps the professor can tell us more about that.  It was the first time that such a session was hosted in the country, alongside the IGF, if I am not ‑‑ the first IGF, if I am not mistake, yes?  We are part to be part of the evolving landscape and excited to see people reaching out for a bit more insight and direction.

It gives us the realization, yeah, the realization ‑‑ rather, it reinforces for us the need for spaces to discuss digital rights in the continent, not only the countries that we present in, but beyond as well.  We can't be everywhere but we try to create connections and relationships in other spaces as well.  In addition is the amount of media awareness that we attract as the forum.  What is great to see is people come back for information post the forum.

It reflects a growing appreciation of digital rights in the continent, also to the release of the economic impact of government shutdowns, there is a bit more realization of the media on the continent, to discuss them more freely.  The ones that meet them are the editors that might not have the same appreciation, but glad to see the growing awayness of the need to broaden the conversation on digital rights.

Okay.  Now, this is something that many of you may have seen.  It is produced by Access Now on Internet shutdowns.  For the most part, we see shutdowns happening in various countries.  Sometimes we take it as happening elsewhere.  But when you look at it in such a context, you ‑‑ I think it becomes a bit more real for some of us who have experienced an Internet shut down.  It points out the need to bring the discussion and need to keep it alive.  Especially in such spaces.  We have many countries that never experienced an Internet shutdown, so it may not be a priority.  But we need to keep that aspect alive. 

I'm happy to see Al, talking about the need to make the research around it more immediate to really support that argument.  

Okay.  So one of the ways in which we have tried to keep this conversation alive is by having various Internet chats.  We had one recently.  We are riding on the access Now campaign to keep it on.  Trying to keep it local.  Referring back to the Internet freedom hashtag.  We point out that the Ethiopia commune is affected.  They're not affecting an entire country, it is regions.  We're seeing the trend, that the character of shutdowns are changing.  But are we paying enough attention to it?  What will be the next character it takes on?  Are we keeping a finger on the pulse around it?  So yes.  That is why we tried to keep this conversation going.  So anytime, please, if you need to share some thoughts around Internet shutdowns, be sure to tag us.  We're keen on understanding what is happening around it.  An interesting look at how it looks at mobile money.  That is quite unique to developing countries.  The use of mobile money.  It is heavily affected by shutdowns.  That is another thing that we have tried to keep awareness alive on.

Once again, our reports are available on the CIPESA website.  Once you go to CIPESA, go to the resources tab, you will find all this information there.  You will find a whole host of additional information as well that we have produced over the years.  Okay.

So this is just to show what we have been doing around Internet shutdowns.  But one of the take aways ‑‑ a few of the take aways, I would like to share from the forum are these.  I'm not going to read through all of them, but I just like for you to ‑‑ you know, spend a few minutes going through them.  I think what we should also do is try to bring these up as we participate in the various discussions at the IGF over the week. 

So one of the key recommendations that came up was to really push for the declaration of principles and freedom of expression in Africa.  Yeah, well, to be updated to include something around access to information and the Internet.  So we need to really work towards ensuring that the language of today is included in some of the instruments that we rely on quite a bit. 

Okay.  We also pointed out that the flow of information is a concern, because that goes back to the access to the Internet shutdown conversation we pointed out ‑‑ or rather, the issue that we pointed out. 

Yes, like Al also mentioned ‑‑ sorry I keep referring back to you.  I'm not bullying you or anything.  We need to really build strong strategies around push back.  We have written the letters to the various national and regional bodies about what has happened after that.  Should we be talking differently?  Should we be providing different information?  What is it we're doing with regards to push back?  We don't have the answers for that.  We need to make that part of the conversation and not rely on what we're currently doing.  What can we do differently?  We have spoken about the personal data collected.  We also found that they should be ‑‑ cybersecurity is a top issue.  We need to bring it more in line with the digital rights.  That you don't override those when you talk about cybersecurity.  And talk about the media, we see them arrested and shut down and see the content being pulled down.  What are we doing to address that as a digital rights community?  Some of the countries we work in, we have a culture of exclusivity.  How do we bring in issues and advance diversity and inclusion when you talk on issues of culture and sexuality, the L.G.B.T. community.  What is happening to the communities online and in various countries?  Are we still maintaining the culture of marginalization, or bringing ‑‑ or are we including marginalized communities in the digital rights agenda?  We reports that we looked at in the L.G.B.T. community and how they're trying to maintain a footprint in the digital rights community.  It was quite an interesting report.  You are welcome to look at it on the website.  Yes, we need to understand that while we're in this space, there are some communities that sometimes get lost in the conversation.

Another key take away is the need for affordable access.  The Internet is still very expensive in the content, very inaccessible.  Even in instances where people claim it is cheap in countries along the coast, we're seeing cases where the opposite holds true.  You are seeing South Africa have the data must fall campaign.

In a country with a landing site ‑‑ yes, a landing site.  Yes.  The cost of the Internet is still not affordable for the majority of the population.  How do we bring that ‑‑ how do we keep that conversation alive and actually see some change happen in that respect?  We spent quite a bit of time on understanding ‑‑ discussing the Internet measurements and need for it.  But yes, so we need to build the research capacity and we need researchers to understand, share, gather information on what is happening within the unique context.  But yes, so that is something that I think in the various capacities, organizations would actively working towards.

So it is great to see a growing network of researchers from the continent.  I think that, personally for me, is one of the highlights for the future of Internet freedom in Africa. 

So in conclusion, how can you be part of the journey that FIFAfrica is taking?  The Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa?  We welcome various organizations and individuals to share their work.  We want to know what is happening, what are you doing?  How are you advancing or taking a stand for one thing or another?  We welcome those contributions.  We welcome participation in panel discussions.  As we saw earlier, the be in of panel discussions is growing.  How can we be part of that?  Share with us our thoughts on that.  You are also welcome to host workshops at the forum. 

This is an exciting part of the forum.  We usually have a few spaces for participation, but we tend to have an overflow.  So that points to the need for more said workshops to be held in spaces such as the forum.  We encourage people to forge collaborations while at the forum.  That is one of the highlights that people have given back to us.  Rather in terms of feedback, that the collaborations built at the forum have led to interesting work efforts. 

We of course skill shares and hosting workshops are very similar to each other.  We also invite you to exhibit any of your work, research, presentations, we simply welcome you all to join us at the forum in sharing, living up to the realization, or living up to the word collaboration in Africa. 

I don't know ‑‑ Lillian, is there anything you would like to add?  Walkaby, anything you would like to add?  Okay.  So if there is anybody who would like to add anything to the conversation or just point out a thing or two, you are welcome to do so. 

Otherwise, the session was meant to run from half past 1:00 to half past 2:00.  Until 3:00?  Okay.  So we still have a bit of time.  Anybody that would like to say anything.  Welcome to those that joined us a bit later. 

Like we said earlier, we appreciate your time to join us out here this afternoon, in the cold, day 0 of the IGF.  So thank you for joining us in this space.

I think what we should do, actually, is maybe get a word from those of us who have been at the forum.  There are a couple here.  So you are welcome to share your own experiences of the forum.  What is it that made it stand out for you?  What is it you walked away with from the forum.  Now I will be a bully.  Al, I left you alone.  I am heading your direction.  I see Michael.  Michael has his hand up, can't you see it waving in the air.  Jenna, we see you there.  Who else has been to the forum.  Yolanda.  Yolanda attended the forum for the first time last year.  Maybe we would be interested in hearing your opinion as a first‑timer at the forum.  Michael, we'll start with you, then jump to Jenna and then come back to Yolanda.  And Tetto.  Tetto was also at the forum.  You are welcome to share your experiences. 

>> MICHAEL: Mine will be a compromise first.  I spoke to Dr. (?) just like two months ago, during the 2017 edition of the forum for Internet freedom in Africa.  I had a simple request.  Of course, I'm yet to receive a response from him.  I may not have power or resources, I was asking him if the 2018 edition can be held in Zambia.  It was a simple request, giving him enough time to think about it.  It has been almost like three months, I have yet to receive a response from him.  I brought this issue publicly now.  That is all of you are welcome to Zambia.  I know (?) beyond this forum.  This forum has provided a good platform on issues which we seemingly not see them to be as important as they are.  As somebody who comes from the law enforcement background, there has been a lot of issues pertaining to digital rights, because it seems everyone now is on social media.  Since they're on social media, they have a plat norm which they can expression their views, express their thoughts, without begging for someone (?) public information.  Social media itself has become an open space for people's views.  We see media organization quoting reports from social media.  That shows how important social media is.

Getting back to the forum.  I have been to the forum on two occasion.  The 2017 one ‑‑ 2016 one in Campbella.  And the last one in Johannesburg.  There are issues discussed, like this year's discussion there was one topic that was very important in terms of digital rights.  I think strategy ‑‑ I think that opened people's minds on when, how, why should you institute (?).  Is it important that you sue somebody?  Is it worth your time ‑‑ oh, how helpful will it be at the end of the day?  Basically, CIPESA has done something that is ‑‑ something that is not usual.  They're an organization that will talk about access, affordability, and other issues.  There was a component missing, which was the issue of the rights of Internet users.

Basically, the job that CIPESA is doing in terms of Internet rights, it is something we should all thank them for and bring in more people on board.  At least by the end of maybe five years from now, everything (?) every Internet user will have access and know how to conduct themselves online.  Thank you. 

>> JULIA: Thank you, Michael for that.  We see there is a call for the forum to move to Zambia.  Duly noted.  Next we have Jenna.  She'll introduce herself.  She wasn't able to join us this year.  She's attended previous forums twice, once?  Once.  Jenna share with us your experience what you took away from that.  I would be happy to hear from you. 

>> JENNA: Thanks, Julia, I was trying to avoid speaking today.  I failed.  My name is Jenna, I work for research ICT Africa based in Capetown, but it is an Africawide organization.  I attended FIF East Africa, 2015.  That was very interesting experience for me.  It was the first three months into Internet governance and FIFAfrica was an introduction to digital rights issues.  I had just attended the Africa Internet governance forum and met Julia there, the bullying tendencies started.

I was an observer, but with so many questions, because I think for me, what was critical was trying to figure out, like, where end users were in the conversation.  And trying to also understand do the issues happen at a superior level or issues that are an everyday experience?  For me, that was a good introduction to digital rights and a great forum.  More focused on the issues instead of just being Africa Internet governance where anything and everything happens, in the Internet Africa governance.

I caught the tail end of your presentation in terms of collaboration and working together.  I believe participating in these forums allows you to speak to different audiences.  I can tell you, our organization has been strong more on terms of research.  In terms of participating in this forum, it is reaching out in terms of advocacy and shaping the way you communicate to a different audience.  It is great we had this relationship with CIPESA where we are tagged on conversations and join in, where before if the audience was academia, they're not yet clued up on social media.

So, yeah, I think what Michael was saying about social media, gives you a platform to engage and allows you to engage with like‑minded people with different perspectives, and building that Africawide network.  It is also one of the initiators when we talk about research and building research capacity, this year, we came up with similar ideas and had that panel that Walkaby chaired and Alice and Rachel was on it, where we talked about Internet measurements.

At the Africa Internet summit, which is technical, as far as I am concerned.  It looked at technical and rights issues.  And Walkaby was there.  It is that kind of collaboration across different sectors that the forums allow for. 

Also, I have tea if anyone needs tea.  Yeah.  (Chuckling).  So I think for me, my experience with the forum, is definitely, when it comes to looking at digital rights in Africa, it is about crossing to different sectors and people having the conversation, instead of conversations in their own silos and really shaping the conversation from an African perspective, which is why I like how you look at Internet shutdowns.  Instead of being a conversation emerging from somewhere, but what it is like coming from an African perspective.  Thanks.

>> JULIA: Thank you very much, Jenna, for that feedback.  It is most appreciated.  It is also about collaboration.  We're excited to always get the insights from research ICT Africa, who do quite a bit of work in that regard. 

So thank you for the tea.  Tea available for everyone?  Oh, thank you.  Thank you.  That is why we like having Jenna in these spaces.  Yolanda.  Yolanda joined us for the first time at the South Africa forum that we held this year in South Africa.  We're excited to get feedback from you.  You're there as a participant but joined in on a panel or two.  Right?  Looking forward to hearing from you.

>> YOLANDA: Thank you, Jenna, for letting me speak.  I like speaking when I have questions.  This one is tricky.  I like attended FIFA this year.  Such forums are needed and important.  You are talking about the dot of the forum.  We noted and talk about Internet issues, we don't know how or where to talk about them are for them to turn into tangible, I guess, outcomes and inputs into policy.  Having forums like these that open up the platform to talk about structures in a conducive way is needed.  As a south African young person, we appreciate this.  Hopefully, I can attend the next FIFA in Zambia.  What I liked is how dynamic it was and covered topics from all over the continent.  And the fact that we got to meet other people working in the same spaces.  But also had we had workshop or capacity buildings actually in and out of the forum. 

I had a really good experience.  Hopefully I will attend next year.  Thank you. 

>> JULIA: Thank you.  Thanks for that, Yolanda.  I think what Michael, Yolanda and Jenna have shared are some very personal experiences of the forum.  Of course, they have been there in various capacities, as speakers, participants and we value their presence and contribution to the forum.  The reason I call out to them because people remember them.  Whether or not they're getting feedback, yeah, that one, the Zambia law enforcement man, that one, he said this.  So it is good to just hear from them as of their own narratives or experiences of the forum upon because people remember, people walk away with content that hopefully ‑‑ we hope they carry on forward.  For the most part they do.  So thank you very much for your contributions on that. 

I don't know.  Are there any other questions you may have for us?  Anyone?  If not ‑‑ what?  Is there a question?  Okay. 

>> ALLEN BARREN:  Sure.  Let me cause a little bit of trouble.  Hi.  I'm Allen Barren from Africa net.  You seem to be focused on East Africa.  Would it be possible to expand your report on the whole of Africa? 

>> JULIA: It is a question we receive quite a bit.  We have expanded on the countries we have been covering as CIPESA.  The first reports that we produced focused on Kenya, Tanzania,  Rwanda, and Uganda.  Last year we expanded to include a bit more countries from southern Africa.  Zimbabwe, South Africa ‑‑ no.  Botswana, Zambia ‑‑ we are evolving.  We try to not stretch ourselves out too thin.  We do quite a bit of digging into the various countries, which is a challenge.  But as capacity grows, we will expand on the countries covered.  Is there anything you would like to add to that? 

>> LILLIAN: Yes.  Like Julia said, when we started it was purely East Africa, and we had a comparative with South Africa.  But as we went on, we found that, you know, we needed to dig more, we will come with Africa net to expanding in further countries.  That is what I want to add to more countries.  Yes, next year we'll be reaching out to you to see how to cover the entire Africa region. 

>> JULIA: Thank you very much for that question.  (Laughter).  Yes, so expanding is something ‑‑ with every report that comes out, we try to include a few more countries each year.  Yes.  So we're growing.  But as Lillian pointed out we will reach out to Afro net, thank you for that.  Any other queries on the reports or what we do or on the forum?  Has it all been covered?  Al? 

>>AL: You cover a lot of countries, and there is a request to cover more countries.  Have you found that it is sometimes difficult to contact switch between different scenarios and different countries and is there sometimes push back from local communities who would rather be doing their own approach?  Maybe rather than having an all‑encompassing approach? 

>> JULIA: That is a very good question Al and something we have debated quite a bit.  I will push that to our research lead, Walkaby, who will shed more light on that.

>> WALKABY: Thanks.  I am not the research lead.  The research lead is someone different.  Um ... there isn't push back because we don't fly out of the blue, go into a country, do research, present it, and get out.  Every research we do in each country is led by a research organization or researchers that are based in that country.  The same way ‑‑ they know the local context, nuances are a better place to do the research, than will ever be if not in that country.  The local people dot research.  We partner with organizations to do the workshop so there isn't really any friction around that.  In any case, these partnerships are helping to grow the capacity of these organizations to conduct the research but also do advocacy in their countries. 

They appreciate that much as we also appreciate the value brought to the Afro network we run.

>> JULIA: Thanks for that response, Walkaby, I trust that covered your question. 

>> AARON VAN CLYDEN:  I'm Dr. Aaron van Clyden, from university in London.  I'm wondering about the north‑south collaboration that occur in your organization.  I have done work on Internet governance of seven African countries, in which we interviewed ministers of ICT regarding the sorts of struggles they experience in reaching sort of global Internet governance expectation, et cetera. 

I would be interested in expanding that kind of research, although I tend to be a more traditional academic researcher rather than that sort of practical applied.  I'm mixing it up a bit.  I wondered, what do you do as an organization to facilitate north‑south collaboration in that regard? 

>> JULIA: Lillian?  Walkaby?  Okay.  Walkaby? 

>> WALKABY: Okay.  I can try.  We obviously have a need for collaborating not just north and south, but as I mentioned earlier, we collaborate with organizations in other countries.  With the north, we have organizations that we work with, but I don't think that we have a deliberate policy that go out and look for them.  We work with University of Pennsylvania and a couple of people here will be coming.  We have six days training on Internet policy in March of next year.  We have done a couple research with them in the past.  We collaborate with them.  We collaborate with the citizen lab.  We value obviously, the expertise that they bring.  The area of Internet measurement, for instance.

We have been dealing with the northern actors.  That is something we would talk more.  Yeah. 

>> JULIA: That is conversation we need to carry further.  I see the next session is gearing up.  We have ‑‑ Lillian is putting ‑‑

>> LILLIAN: Before you conclude.  We have a lighting ‑‑ is it lightning session?  A lightning session, when is this?  Sorry.  On day four.  I would be happy to continue this conversation with you it is around researching digital rights and contextual experiences and I think you mentioned that it would be interesting to share the experience from the research.  And what we have done to see how to enrich our experiences.  Yeah, yeah, it would be nice to join us on day four, you know, to continue this conversation.  Thanks. 

>> JULIA: Okay.  I think we can call it ‑‑ not a day ‑‑ there is a lot going on still today.  But thank you for joining us for sharing in our time here.  We have a few reports at the front for some of those who came a bit later.  We have reports on the state of Internet freedom in Africa, 2017 as well as this little handbook, which I think would be a value for many of us in understanding the economic aspects in sub‑Saharan Africa.  We have a forum to help guide in the Internet countries.  We encourage you to get a copy or two and share the word that we have these available.  But once again, thank you for your time.  You can follow us at CIPESAUG on Twitter and follow our website which is CIPESA.org.  That is CIPESA.org.  If you want more information on the work that we do, look into our resources page on the website where we have a whole library of information readily available for your use.  Thank you very much for your time, once again. 

(Session concluded 3:00 p.m.)

 

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