The Internet has evolved into the single most effective and most powerful tool in history. It has cemented itself as the most flexible, dynamic and the breeziest medium of them all. Even locally, the cost of a simple web site is usually less than the cost of a modest ad in a newspaper.
This level of flexibility and dynamism is incredulous. The Internet is increasingly playing a key role in the country’s economy, given its contribution across industries and the reliance of key sectors such as finance, education and governance on ICTs. This has been buttressed by the high penetration rates of mobile phones and assimilation of technology into just about every corner of the economy.
With the monumental uptake of the Internet in Kenya, just how can fundamental challenges be addressed in order to ensure the benefits of this data revolution? How can a sole human contribute towards inclusive economic development while protecting the rights of Kenyan people?
The virtual Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KeIGF) will bring to the table conversations such as these and more on 29 October. Themed Internet for Human Resilience and Solidarity, the virtual event will shed light on the instrumental role the Internet continues to play in expanding the civic space. It also focuses on how the Internet can be regulated so as to ensure the policies, standards and practices that coordinate and shape global cyberspace are not breached.
The development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet is something the IGF will aim to extrapolate.
The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTAnet), a multi-stakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involved in ICT policy and regulation is a catalyst for Internet governance reform. KICTANet has therefore rightly collaborated with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) as a sponsor to address Internet governance issues that overlap with human rights. Their mandate is “enhancing human rights centred governance at all levels.”
The event will be a multi-stakeholder forum for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. The forum will be held in an informal setting, free from binding negotiations. It will bring together all stakeholders from government, private sector, technical community, academia and civil society to discuss Internet governance issues on an equal footing through an open and inclusive process.
Themed Internet for Human Resilience and Solidarity, the virtual event will shed light on the instrumental role the Internet continues to play in expanding the civic space. It also focuses on how the Internet can be regulated.
The IGF is a unique platform for all stakeholders to openly exchange perspectives and concerns on key issues that may affect the future of the Internet for millions of Kenyans. With regards to the theme of the event, the theme represents the extraordinary role that the Internet has been playing during the pandemic. The resilience of the Internet as an interconnected, interoperable network has been a regular topic at the IGF.
In 2020, the IGF will approach network resilience specifically from a people-centred perspective, exploring how it has supported the human resilience and solidarity needed to respond to the many challenges posed by the pandemic.
The main outcome of the Kenya IGF is to maximise opportunities for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet governance-related issues. Fundamental freedoms easily merge with a user’s Internet right. With their core values: fairness and social justice, participation and empowerment, liberty and human dignity, accountability and transparency, and equal protection and non-discrimination, KHRC’s vested interests are straightforward. After all, what is an Internet experience without “human rights, democratic values, human dignity and social justice?”
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