The Non-Aligned Movement believes that a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society based on information and communication technology (ICT) could contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Movement has also underlined the importance of removing barriers to bridging the digital divide, particularly those that hinder the full achievement of the economic, social and cultural development of the countries and the welfare of their people, in particular, in developing countries.
Non-Aligned Movement has called upon the Member States to ensure universal access to information and knowledge related to ICT. Member States of the African Union (AU), most of which are the Member States of NAM also, recently organised the 11th African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF 2022) in Lilongwe, Malawi from 19th to 21st July 2022 under the theme Digital Inclusion and Trust in Africa. The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Republic of Malawi and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) took the lead in organising the AfIGF 2022.
The AfIGF is a platform for an inclusive multilateral, multi-stakeholder and multilingual discussion on issues pertinent to the Internet and its governance in Africa. It was first held in 2011. The 2022 Forum brought together high-level officials, dignitaries, and participants drawn from African Union Commission, Member States, UN Organisations, the private sector, academia, and civil society to discuss digitalisation. The Forum was specifically tailored towards four major thematic areas including, affordable and meaningful access, cybersecurity, privacy and personal data protection, digital skills and human capacity development, and digital infrastructure and was preceded by three events: the School on Internet Governance, the Youth African IGF and a Parliamentarian Symposium.
President of the Republic of Malawi Dr Lazarus Chakwera stated that his government attaches high priority to digitalization. “The vision for a “digital Africa” can only be realized if we invest in indigenous solutions and workforce to drive this transformation. Africa must be a leader in this revolution with its youthful population is already strategically positioned to create tailored made digital solutions for Africa’s problems”, Chakwera remarked. The African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Amani Abou-Zeid underlined the need for Africa to devise ways to keep pace with the increasing demand for digital infrastructure, bridge connectivity gaps, especially the urban-rural disparity and address the gender digital divide and create decent jobs for Africa’s younger population.
The Communique issues at the end of the AfIGF 2022 declared that the Internet is a key enabler and tool for human resilience and solidarity, as such it must be secured, accessible, available and affordable. The Communique acknowledged that there is a significant digital divide and a human capacity gap in Africa; hence all stakeholders need to work together for digital inclusion, and improvement of livelihoods in Africa; with a key focus on marginalized and vulnerable groups. Consultative and Active adoption and implementation of norms, regulations, policies, standards and protocols within Africa for data protection, privacy, cyber security and overall internet governance are needed in Africa. The socio-economic landscape of Africa needs to develop and absorb the economic value of emerging technologies through entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation among other strategies.
The Communique committed to advocating for policies, legislation, and technical and economic measures that promote digital inclusion, affordability, accessibility, availability and security and actively participate in the development and adoption of norms, regulations, policies, standards and protocols within Africa for data protection, privacy, cyber security and overall internet governance is needed in Africa.
The AfIGF 2022 also committed to fostering an environment and approach that ensures digital trust, cooperation and interdependence, advance digital innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, promote skills transfer, awareness, training and education ‘in and of’ the digital space, technologies, policies and regulations, uphold and promote multi-stakeholder participation in internet governance discourse and ensure that the African voice is heard within the global internet governance discourse, with deliberate inclusion of the youth.
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