21 November 2012

Africa: #Accessibility for Africa @ Internet Governance Forum

At the Seventh Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), activists, government members, technicians and businesspeople from all over the world came together to discuss nothing less than how to democratize the world wide web. At this year's conference, held from 6 to 9 November in Baku, Azerbaijan, RNW chatted with some African specialists in the field.

"Accessibility, more Africans using the internet, appropriating it in a way that makes it sustainable - economically, socially, politically and even culturally." That was the answer Alice Munyua gave when RNW asked what she thought the most pressing internet issue is for Africa.

But Munyua, who served as chair of the African IGF that took place last year in Nairobi, was not the only participant championing for accessibility.

Abdullai Kamara, coordinator of the IGF in Liberia, was in Baku to launch a toolkit about internet governance. In his country, he sees how large parts of society are missing out on relevant issues because only an elite is active on the internet.

"They're missing a lot," he said, referring to Liberians who are not online. "There are more discussions about government and politics and development issues going online now."

According to Kamara, the Discussing Liberia Facebook group has some 50,000 members, though the majority of them live in urban Liberia or overseas. "Our relatives and friends in the rural area don't have this access. We need to improve it, for it's a means of making a government service interactive, making a government participatory," he said.

Meanwhile, Nnenna Nwakanma, a free software and open source (FOSS) activist who is based in Ivory Coast, underscored the importance of being proactive.

"We are tired of discussions. We want to translate talks into action, especially for developing countries," she said. "We want to move from a forum of talkers to a forum of agents, from words to actions, from declarations to results."

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