Gba bee! Nigeria Rocks…

The meeting is practically over...

We hosted the “Nigeria Rocks!” session at 4pm on the 15th. After the opening introduction by Deolu Ashaye (the unofficial compere of WSIS Nigeria Youth Caucus events) :), participants saw the documentary (well, more like movie) tagged “Nigeria Rocks!” Myself and Titi Akinsanmi had brieft closing remarks and we also gave copies of the book and T-shirts to those who joined us for the meeting.

After the session, some good Nigerian music found its way into the speakers, and you should have seen us doing Nigeria proud! The mufflers, T-shirts and excited young Nigerians told the story… a lot of passers-by (including summit security personnel) stopped over to enjoy the view, the music and the souvenirs. We also had an informal post session ceremony where we decorated Nigerians who are here with us in Tunis — most of whom have been providing amazing support for our work. We had the priviledge of having Mr. Lanre Ajayi, Mr. Bayero Agabi, Mr. Vincent Olatunji, and … (I’ll fill in the gap just in case I missed anyone out).

We were at the ECA meeting on the African Regional Actiopn Plan for the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE) and moven on from there to the Heinrich Boll Foundation’s side event, “Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Knowlegde Society: How to Get There from WSIS?”, was quite interesting. It held on the 16th and it was great to hear people from different continents speak about what should be done after the WSIS process. I was on the first panel, and shared quick thoughts on what good young people have been able to draw from the process, and the need to build on existing frameworks and ensure sustainability — while also giving appropriate place to inclusion and the move from the Information Society to the Knowledge Society. I highlighted the following points during my presentation:

1. The good side of WSIS — platforms for networking, etc
2. Knowledge Society — Transforming raw data or information into relevant and appropriate knowledge
3. Inclusive — Bringing the “marginalised” groups on board
4. Sustainable — Meetings over, how about sustaining the action? Moving from pet projects to sustainable and social enterprises
5. How to get there? — Building on the “successes” of WSIS, and having a clear roadmap: Linking the WSIS process with other processes…
6. The youth example — National Youth Campaigns, RYNICs
7. AYIN — Networking efforts and replicating “little” successes
8. Nigeria Rocks! — Documentary and book…
9. Taking the Future in our Hands… Demanding action from governments, but ensuring the availability of the “last mile” regardless of situation

After the HBF meeting, I was at the Youth Caucus meeting where Ayo Olutuase and other campaign coordinators presented what had been done in the campaign countries. This was followed by the ITU/Youth Caucus session on “Beyond Tunis as Youth”. With several dignitaries (including the ITU BDT Director) and lots of young people in attendance, it was a great session that explored the role of the ITU Youth Forum and the need to consolidate efforts moving on from WSIS. After my presentation (actually, an animated public reading of the ITU Youth Fellows’ Declaration), four amazing young ladies took the floor as ITU Youth Fellows and representatives of their regions. Ayesha (Pakistan), Blagica (Macedonia), Aminata (Mali) and Lizzy (Mexico) told the story of what young people have been doing after participating in the ITU Telecom Youth Forum programs.

On the 17th, it was a very busy day (as if other days were lighter) 🙂 The day began with the “Empowering African Youth Social Entrepreneurs” session co-organised by ECA and GKP. I particularly found the meeting interesting because of the diversity of panelists — including young people in Asia who’re also doing amazing work on ICT4D! After Titi Akinsanmi and Leopold Armah, I spoke on Networking for Development: Creating an Enabling Environment for the Promotion of ICT-enabled Youth Social Enterprises in Africa, and then had to leave for the High Level Round Table with the theme, “Moving from Committment to Action”.

Myself, Tope Soremi and Deolu Ashaye were at the Round Table, and it was also attended by 2 Prime Ministers (Mozambique and Niger), the Togolese President’s representative, Ghana’s Vice President, Netherlands Deputy Prime Minister and 7 Ministers of ICTs (Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, Panama, Portugal, Romania, Russia). The Round Table also had representatives of international organisations (UN Conference on Trade and Development, UN Economic Commission for Europe, UN Economic Commission for Asia and Pacific, and the World Bank), the business community (NASSCOM India, ICANN and Telecom Tunisia), and Civil Society (Junior Achievement of Nigeria and IT for Change, India). With so much energy and potential radiating in the room, I was asking myself why the world still has to battle with the digital divide. That’s why I went straight to the point when asked to speak on what would be most important after Tunis.

My answer was simple — two words, action and sustainability. I asked everyone to consider the contrast between the room and the world’s population in terms of youth population, and I think it helped make the statement as I then went ahead to ask for youth empowerment as a way of ensuring sustainability. The passion of young people, and the networks they have formed during the WSIS process would be excellent build-ons! My intervention came about 5 minutes after a brilliant input by Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (UNCTAD) who lent his voice to the need to empower young people as they can help bring new ideas to the table and run with it. After my intervention, it was clear that the message was understood — and the only hope is that countries that supported the input really do something about it.

Egypt, Romania (with a very young Minister who emphatically said he was in the “same generation”), Malaysia and Portugal visibly supported the idea of taking up the challenge of youth empowerment as compulsory post-WSIS agenda while ICANN and UNCTAD also voiced their strong support — alongside the chairperson, Mr. Guy Olivier Segond (DSF President). We gave copies of the book, “Gobal Process, Local Reality” to the Round Table participants. TakingITGlobal hosted a dinner and it was really cool!

Today began with some logistics around book distribution, and was followed by participation at the Telecentre Leaders’ Forum. The forum was particularly exceptional today, as ideas were captured in images as groups threw up ideas that could help solve problems facing telecentres. And during the discussions, I learnt about two new ICT applications — ICT4T (copyright, Cyrus) and ICT4G (copyright, Ugo).

You can ask them about the inventions, but please allow me to tell you that T stands for ?oastin?, while G stands for Gathering. And just so that you know, the Internet Governance debate is yet to end. A last-minute agreement on the 15th left the oversight functions to ICANN (which reports to the United States), but created an Intergovernmental Forum to deliberate on Internet Governance issues — and would hold its first meeting early next year. Well, the thought is that the “agreement” on Internet Governance will at least leave room for discussions on the major issue of opening up Information Society opportunities for developing countries.

After writing all the earlier offline, I’m at the pleanry hall where the last session is ongoing — and Titi Akinsanmi has just made a presentation on what young people have been able to do in the last few years. Talk to you again soon…

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