I was quick to embrace the announcement that a Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum would be established for many reasons – the possible opportunity to network with other young ICT enthusiasts around the world and to bring the IGF discussions a little closer to local relevance. You could then imagine how excited I was when I got word from the secretariat that I had been selected to join other CIGF Fellows at the Internet Governance Forum at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. With seventeen Fellows (supported by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) from across the world, the Sharm discussions and follow-up activities will be worthy of dedicated input – and I am sure this will be of help to my work around cybercrime issues.
The CIGF hosted a joint session for fellows and other stakeholders on the 16th of November, the second day of the IGF, with discussions featuring updates from various regions that have remained engaged with the IGF process. From the presentations and feedback from participants, it was obvious that the benefits of the global discussions on Internet Governance can best translate into visible local impact if the issues are well understood and contextualized. The idea of having Commonwealth member countries exchange ideas would also promote, in my own view, some form of good competition towards best practice efforts.
A follow-up CIGF session held on the same day, with discussions highlighting the promotion of regional and national IG groups; sharing of good practices (e.g. regulation workshops, awards, etc); engaging parliamentarians (and their administrative staff); educating policy makers; engaging youth; fighting cybercrime (prevention and regulation); among others. Alongside the CIGF sessions, other IGF discussions on access, critical resources, security and other issues revealed the power in multistakeholder partnerships and bold action. The IGF presented an opportunity for the announcement of new initiatives and partnerships, and some of the facts made known at the various discussions show the huge opportunities that exists for various stakeholders.
From informal discussions with some of the CIGF Fellows, it is obvious that many hope to take to their respective countries, lessons learnt from the countries that have invested heavily in the necessary process of local consultations before the large global events that have so many workshops you could spend an entre day trying to decide which of the clashing (but excellent) sessions you wish to join. Leaving Sharm, I look forward to further discussions with other CIGF Fellows and to the work we can do together as actors in the Internet Governance space. I hope that my interest in, and work on, cybercrime issues (please see PIN/Microsoft Nigeria’s work on this at http://www.pinigeria.org/isspin) will add value to the process.