22.08.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

Evolution of Internet provides an opportunity for innovation in Kenya

Participants at the Kenya Internet Governance Forum 2016 in Nairobi. CC BY SA/KICTANET

UNESCO, KENIC, Facebook, TESPOK, Simbanet supported the 9th edition of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) that took place on 12 August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Forum brought together over 200 ICT stakeholders drawn from small and big enterprises, government, civil society, the United Nations and academia to discuss the state and evolution of Internet and emerging issues in Kenya.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum 2016 theme replicated the global IGF theme, Enabling Sustainable and Inclusive Development, but maintained topics that were specific to the current Kenyan Internet Governance landscape such as Internet and elections, block chain technology and its impact on industries, cybersecurity, perceptions and regulation of Over the Top (OTT) services and innovations.

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) provides a soft policy direction, which does not make decisions but offers a forum for discussion and advice on Internet policy. “National IGFs become stronger platforms to influence and shape policy,” says Alice Munyua, from the Africa Union Commission. “The national forum is stronger in making recommendations that directly shape the Internet Governance policy environment.” National IGFs also feed into regional and global Internet Governance to inform policy direction at these levels.

KIGF 2016 focused on opportunities and Internet regulations around innovation and use of Internet towards the General elections. UNESCO, a long-time supporter of the Kenya IGF noted the importance of digital literacy in inclusive and sustainable development. Jaco Du Toit, Adviser for Communication and Information in UNESCO’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa, urged the government to look into the use and relevance of technologies, as well as to empower people living with disabilities to participate in the creation of a knowledge economy and in enabling innovation. Principal Secretary of Innovation in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology Victor Kyalo made it clear that the government will continue to support innovation and is not interested in regulating the practitioners.

Live interaction was prompted by the discussions on how the ICT sector can make use of the blockchain technology to bring innovation to other sectors in the economy, such as agriculture and finance, and promote transparency, especially in matters of public interest. Participants also raised the question on whether most African entrepreneurs can afford to participate in the innovation global market.

The full report about KIGF 2016 will be available on kictanet.or.ke and intgovforum.org upon release.

About the Internet Governance Forum

The Internet Governance Forum is an open forum that brings together stakeholders on equal footing to discuss the evolution of the Internet. It was established by the World Summit on the Information Society in 2006. Since then, it has become a regular and leading global multi-stakeholder forum on public policy issues related to Internet governance. Its UN mandate gives it convening power and the authority to serve as a neutral space for all actors on an equal footing. As a space for dialogue it can identify issues to be addressed by the international community and shape decisions that will be taken in other forums. IGF can thereby be useful in shaping the international agenda and in preparing the ground for negotiations and decisions.

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