Kenya IGF 2021 Summary Report

Closing ceremony given by Mercy Ndegwa of Facebook

Blog by June Okal.

Hybrid Forum held on 23 September 2021

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development are discussed.

Modelled on the IGF structure and principles, the Kenya IGF is a unique platform for all stakeholders to openly share perspectives and concerns on the key issues that may affect the future of Internet users in the country and across the globe in general.

The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTAnet) in partnership with industry stakeholders, convened and organized the Kenya IGF 2021. KICTAnet worked with partners and sponsors to make the event a success. The willingness of Facebook, the Ford Foundation, the Communications Authority (CA), Safaricom PLC, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Kenya Network Information Centre, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Internet Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA), Technology Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK), CIO East Africa, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa to partner and support the event is an indication of their commitment to the development and growth of the internet in Kenya.

For the second time, due to the ongoing COVID – 19 pandemic, the Kenya IGF was convened as a hybrid event with both physical and online participation. The forum also included a sign interpreter to ensure inclusive engagement by participants who are abled differently. The 2021 Kenya IGF was attended by +300 participants under the theme Internet United. The event was free to attend and was streamed online.

From the Opening Remarks made by Steve Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer – Safaricom PLC, Alberto Cerda, Ford Foundation and Josephine Gauld, British Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, all the speakers were excited for the 2021 KIGF discussion, and high pointed the need for multistakeholder collaboration in dealing with the challenges affecting the internet at a national, regional and global scale. Through the Keynote Address delivered by Acting Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya – the ICT industry regulator -, Ms. Mercy Wanjau identified the top three priorities that will need to be addressed in the coming year, being, the need to narrow the digital divide, enhancing of user trust in terms of freedom on the internet and provision for safeguards on disclosure of information which would need to be a collaborative effort between stakeholders.

At the first session, ‘High-Level Panel – Emerging regulation of content, data and consumer rights’ the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner cited the need for compliance and awareness. In recognition of new and emerging technologies, key industry players called for timely engagement to develop new frameworks that would enhance trust and balance interests between stakeholders, including end-users and business partners. In summary, at the heart of new age regulation is the need to facilitate innovation and multi-stakeholderism.

The subsequent session on Inclusion, Universal Access and Meaningful Connectivity emphasized the need to not only deliver connection and connectivity but meaningful connectivity where there is an impact for the end-user. The session speakers highlighted some programmes that have been implemented across the country towards this effort, challenges faced in content moderation and restriction of Freedom of Expression and Information as well as an illustration of the ongoing work on community networks.

Trust, security, and stability – the third thematic topic of discussion. There was a rallying call for enhanced public awareness in recognition of the shift of the national cybersecurity strategy in Kenya from its enactment seven (7) years ago to date owing to the evolution of technology, increased cybercrime threats as well as the pandemic–led digital transformation.

The imposition of personal values rather than national values, lack of knowledge of the national electoral technology-based system to be used, absence of transparency and accountability and a need for public education were emphasized as key concerns in the penultimate discussion on Elections, Data and Technology. In appreciation of the vital place for telecommunications infrastructure, the need for a legal framework recognizing and protecting critical infrastructure was noted. Compliance to the global standard of personal data protection by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was flagged as non-negotiable as the Constitutional right to privacy is non-derogable. Summarily, technology should reinforce the democratic process, not undermine it.

In conclusion, the last session zeroing in on Emerging Issues (e.g. 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Tax, E-learning and FinTech) underscored the importance of Digital Services Tax, its impact on the economy in attempting to extend the tax bracket specifically for non-resident providers, recognized the potential impact of 5G technology and the crucial role of the regulator in spectrum allocation. The use of artificial intelligence particularly in financial technology service delivery was lauded in compliance with the law, with counter-arguments on premature regulation in the field of fintech vis a vis the place for self-regulation. User centricity in the development of e-learning solutions should be based on the key pain points flagged by key stakeholders and the need for a new smart city development rather than the retrofitting of existing cities was cited to leverage technology in an attempt to alleviate existing challenges.

The event also featured an award ceremony for the 40 participants of the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KESIG) and the outcome report of the 2021 Youth IGF conveyed. In delivering the Vote of Thanks, Barrack Otieno chair of the Multi Advisory Group (MAG) thanked all the sponsors, partners, speakers, MAG members, KICTANet team and attendees for their engagement. In her Closing Remarks, Mercy Ndegwa, Public Policy Director, East & Horn of Africa, Facebook opined that ‘Internet United’ was an amazingly apt theme throughout the day, noted that the conversation and content were extremely rich and applauded KICTAnet for hosting such a great event.

Conclusively, the attendees – representing various sectors including government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the general public – shared key session highlights and comments on the active chatbox. There was unquestionable consensus on the great content, good insights, impactful learning and interesting conversations in recognition of how the internet has come to play such an important role in our lives and hence the need for its governance. One attendee lauded the virtual setup, quipping that it, ‘looks like a Kenyan apple event’.

The reports of the Kenya IGF 2021 is available on the KICTANet documents portal.

Kenya IGF 2021 call for topics

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. While the discussions give soft policy outcomes, KIGF is a knowledge-sharing platform that informs and inspires policy actors in both the public and private sectors.

The national forum also feeds into the regional and global IGFs through a chain of reporting and representation to the regional and global IGFs to ensure a bottom-up Internet policy development processes and a strong link between global internet policies and the national one.

This year, we will have a hybrid (Virtual and Physical) meeting on the 21st to 23rd September 2021.

On behalf of the local Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), we’d be interested to hear your views on the issues and topics that you think ought to be discussed during this year’s Kenya IGF.

To enable us track the issues, kindly share them in this Google Form which is in the format below:

a) Proposed topic(s):

b) Why the topic is important or relevant:

c) Proposed speakers (if any):

Kindly share your feedback by 4th June 2021.

Google Form for call for topics

My reflection on Kenya School of Internet Governance and working in Post Covid19 era

By Peter Mmbando, KeSIG and KeIGF Fellow 2020, from Tanzania.

As the year 2020 draws to close and we prepare to welcome the year 2021, I share my reflections on the KeSIG and KeIGF 2020 as the first virtual events hosted in Kenya that engaged Multistakeholders from East African Countries.

The events were virtual, with presentations from ICT professionals, and digital policy experts who provided rich content that changed my way of thinking for future events and work in cyberspace. I learned that due to the pandemic, the world had totally changed from analog to digital. The pandemic prompted everyone to work remotely or from home. Some organizations changed to hybrid offices where non-essential workers begin working from home or remotely in finance, ICT, agriculture, media to name a few.

Much of the contents at KeSIG reminded us to focus and not panic, to be creative, perseverance, to upgrade skills, and to accumulate constructive knowledge for the betterment of the world. The concepts covered internet design principles, introduction into internet governance, international roles of internet governance, private sector roles in internet governance, and emerging issues.
I have learned that most youths are taking digital life for granted, not paying enough time to details, to explore, read, practice digital skills, as well as upgrade their skills in cybersecurity, instead, they spend much time on social media chatting or watching unproductive information.

In addition, the KeSIG 2020 and KeIGF 2020 had touched on issues of disinformation and misinformation that had affected communities by creating fear and panic during the pandemic. Youths, especially women must be equipped with digital skills ( techno know-how) in order to understand how to respond to cyber-bullying, cyber-attacks, and cyberspace at large as well as to learn how to write positive narratives about Africa with reliable sources of information.

Furthermore, KeIGF speakers elaborated on how youth can practically learn negotiation skills not only at the national level, continental level but also at the global level in policy formulation and discussions. Negotiation skills are vital for African youths to address critical issues facing the African continent, for instance, the issues of internet connectivity, data privacy, data protection, and cybersecurity policies. Other issues are internet shutdown and throttling and mass surveillance.

Lastly, youth must understand that while most jobs and opportunities are remote and virtual, it is time to wake up and learn, upgrade skills, and fast to adapt changes in life. As we are living in a digitalized world, we depend much on the digital economy to survive or live. We should well manage time and other resources to build constructive digital workspace and engage in community activities to bring positive change at different levels.

Lack of digital skills should not be an excuse for not working remotely or trying to create opportunities in a pandemic or non-pandemic period, we have seen that the future of work is remote to hybrid, as nearly 70% of organizations believe the productivity gains of remote working are sustainable beyond the pandemic. It is time for African youths to work hard and come up with solutions to problems that are facing in the digital space.

My First Virtual School Experience at KeSIG

By Rebeccah Wambui.

The insistent message to “do something meaningful with your time” during the unprecedented, at least in our generation, the covid-19 pandemic period had taken its toll on me. So in a typical millennial style, I did nothing meaningful in protest for a while. Until I came across application invitations for the fifth cohort of Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)/ by KICTANet

I applied instantly. This was the opportunity to further my skills on internet governance and officially join the learnt a new skill during Covid19 club.

The application and acceptance process was brief and concise. School officially kicked off with the learning management system induction training, followed by intensive, three-day sessions. This included the mandatory self-paced reading of course material provided through the KICTANet e-learning platform, and zoom interactions with industry experts from CSK, Safaricom, ICANN, and KHRC. Course work evaluation was a timed one hour attempt, with a 60% pass mark.

The graduation and certificate award ceremonies have previously been held at the end of Kenya Internet Governance forums, but this year’s got a mention at the Virtual Kenya IGF webinar with trainees receiving e- certificates.

A key lesson I learned was – Multistakeholdersim is the approach to Internet Governance and generally means that a multitude of stakeholders, as opposed to governments only, can participate in and have an impact on Internet Governance processes, discussions, and Internet policy development.

I now have the skills and knowledge to engage in wider internet governance discussions as well as the responsibility to create awareness and invite other stakeholders in, as the field is perceived as an exclusive reserve for the technical community.

Rebeccah Wambui is in the gig economy of Capacity Development and Social Impact. She also hosts The Audacity Podcast ke.
@beckywambui 

Data Privacy Day 2020: 4 Good Things in Kenya’s Data Protection Act, 2019

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

By Francis Monyango.

Today is the 28th of January. Data Protection Day or Privacy Day. The day when we all commemorate the 1981 signing of the Council of Europe’s Convention 108 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data, quite a mouthful.

While it is was initially a European celebration, data privacy is now a global issue and we now have a reason to celebrate Data Protection Day in Kenya. The Kenyan Data Protection Bill assented to the law on the 8th of November, 2019 and its date of commencement was on the 25th of November, 2019. This is Kenya’s first data protection law, promulgated 9 years later after the Constitution which enshrines the right to privacy in Article 31. The Data Protection Act law gives effect to article 31(c) and (d) which recognize the people’s right to informational privacy. 

In recent times, privacy concerns among Kenyans have included the arbitrary misuse of personal information, unsolicited marketing messages by entities and the need for identification at entrances of buildings. Therefore, on this auspicious Data Protection Day, we want to highlight 4 good things in the Data Protection Act.

Gives people control

The Data Protection law came with new names and rights for people. The Act defines Data subject as a natural person whose personal information is processed. The rights in the Act include the right to be informed on the use of their data and the right to access their data which is in custody of the data controller or processor. Other data subject rights include the right to object to the processing of their data, the right to correction and the deletion of false or misleading data about them. 

Data subjects are supposed to give informed consent to data processing. For them to give informed consent, they need to understand all privacy-related agreements which means these agreements have to be written in plain language. With informed consent, a data subject can know which types of data processing they can opt-in and out of.

Independent Data Commissioner

Another goodie in the Data Protection Act is the office of the Data Protection Commissioner. (It is yet to be set up but it is a huge leap to accountability). This commissioner will oversee the implementation of the Data Protection Act and its enforcement. The Data Commissioner will have to establish and maintain a register of data controllers and processors and exercise oversight on their data processing operations. Sometimes the Data Commissioner may have to conduct an assessment on a public or private body on its own initiative or at the request of a private or public body. Because of the nature of the role, we hope the Data Commissioner will be independent. The Commissioner will also be required to investigate complaints from any person on infringements of the Act and action taken.

Obligations to Data Controllers and Processors

The Data Protection Act christens entities that collect and use personal information data controllers and processors. These two entities now have new obligations. They are required to ensure that personal data is processed in accordance with the right to privacy of the data subject. The data processing has to be lawful, transparent and limited to what is necessary. Data processors and controllers are supposed to collect data for explicit, specified and legitimate purposes. The processing should not be incompatible with the agreed purposes. 

The Act prohibits data transfer outside Kenya unless there is proof of adequate data protection safeguards or consent from the data subject. Other duties are to keep the data anonymous and to exercise privacy by design in their data processing systems. The Act requires entities to be transparent and accountable in their privacy practices and in the unfortunate event of a breach. In the event of a breach, data handlers must do their best to contain the harm, give appropriate support to help those affected, and ensure timely notification of any violations to the Data Commissioner. 

Works Globally

The world is now a global village that is connected and the Act is not rigid in its requirements for cross border data transfer. A data controller or processor is allowed to transfer personal data to another country only where they have proved to the Data Commissioner the other country has appropriate security and data protection safeguards. For the processing of sensitive personal data outside Kenya, this was to be after obtaining the consent of the data subject and confirmation of appropriate safeguards in the destined nation.

This section initially required data controllers and processors to get consent from every data subject but Members of Parliament during legislation felt it would be ambiguous for an entity like the electoral body with servers outside Kenya to get consent from every voter, hence delegating the role to the Data Commissioner. This section enables interoperability between different jurisdictions while protecting the privacy of personal information without undermining the Internet’s global nature.

There are many other good things in the Act that I have not mentioned. However, I have to acknowledge that the law was drafted collaboratively, in the spirit of public participation. Stakeholders such as KICTANet, CIPIT, Article 19, KEPSA gave their views and the National Assembly ICT Committee considered all their points in the report that they tabled in parliament during the legislation.

The next big challenge is the implementation of the law. Will 2020 be a decade of privacy compliance by Kenyan entities? Will we celebrate Data Protection Day 2021 with a Kenyan Data Commissioner? Only time will tell.

Artificial Intelligence at KeSIG

Artificial Intelligence

By Margaret Nyambura.

Artificial intelligence that is popularly known as “AI’’is one of the topic that we had during the 2019 Kenya School of Internet Governance. The Artificial Intelligence technology is here to stay and no longer a thing of the past. What started as a research project on how AI works, has now become a global trend of transitioning from manual way of solving complex issues and especially those to do data entry and processing that is collected by big multinational companies such as Facebook, Huawei, and Safaricom . The components of AI are data, Algorithms, outputs, decisions, and training.

The use of AI has now become so important in sectors such as agriculture where drones are being used in monitoring the weather patterns, and gathering data. However there is a need to come up with policies and laws that help regulate AI. This data is later used in research work. Some Government organisations such as Kenya Bureau of Statistics collects data over a period of time to help in planning for infrastructure, health care services, and education among other areas. The use of AI while collecting data ensures that it is done on time, and it is factual in  determining the population growth of citizens over a period of time. AI systems feeds on data.

Here in Kenya, companies such as Safaricom are using AI technology in engaging the youth. The AI application chatbox by Safaricom called ‘’Zuri’’ help customers perform a wide range of tasks. This could replace some customer care services roles that are normally conducted by people.

Zuri can be able to handle over 17 million Safaricom customers and is able to perform tasks like manage subscription services including viewing subscriptions and unsubscribing from chargeable SMS services.  Zuri can handle other roles that includes the M-PESA reversals, buying bundles, airtime top up and checking M-PESA and airtime balances.

Safaricom was the first telecommunication company to create ZURI chatbot software that can simulate a conversation or a chat with a user in a natural language through messaging, websites, mobile apps or even through the phone.

A chatbot has often been described as one of the most advanced and promising expressions of interaction between humans and machines. That’s why they’re very important in the customer’s journey. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 chatbots will be handling no less than 85% of all customer service interactions, so this tells you how Safaricom’s Zuri and any other chatbot are important at this day and age.

Multinational companies such as IBM are now using AI for medical imaging known as Watson Health that is helping to create meaningful change in the health sector with over 15,000 clients and partners. Some of these health conditions would have been difficult to diagnose without the use of AI. The current statistics state that more than 295,000 patients have been affected by Watson Health.  99% of the data is recorded through artificial intelligence.

What we should know as digital technology users is that a lot is going to change in the coming years on how we shall be using AI in medicine, banking, and automobile sector and how AI shall be utilized in addressing complex issues.

AI technology has its own challenges and biases for instance, research has shown that Self-driving cars more likely to drive into black people. Another challenge could be that the older generation might find it hard to grasp the emerging technologies such as AI as the saying goes, ‘’It is difficult to change old people but can only convince them with working ideas.’’

Margaret Mwangi is a Media and communication Specialist who has gained experience in radio production, videography, photo editing and article writing the last 16 years. She has worked for both TV and Radio as a news reporter, a translator of news from English to Kiswahili, a radio producer, as a TV production assistant in various media houses which include Royal media services, Family media, Radio Mama 107.1 FM and GBS TV. She has also been a freelance writer for Association of Media Women in Kenya publications such as ‘’ The Dawn, Inuka, 86 And Counting’’ among other. She is currently a contributing writer and a photographer for Mkazi which is an online publication.
Twitter: @maggieezbon
LinkedIn: Margaret Mwangi

Kenya IGF week 2019

The Kenya IGF week shall be held from 29th July to 1st August 2019 at the Panafric Hotel, in Nairobi.

The IGF week has a series of activities including the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG), policy briefs dissemination workshops, and culminates in the flagship Kenya Internet Governance Forum.

Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)

KeSIG has grown to be among KICTANet’s flagship programmes, and its success has not been only in bringing in new voices but also encouraging those whose work has been disrupted by the internet to understand and contribute to internet policy making processes. In its 4th edition, KeSIG deliberately targets law enforcement officers, civil society organisation officers, traditional and new media practitioners, the tech community and academics. Its aim remains to build capacity for local and global internet governance by leveraging on existing policy advocates from areas such as media, human rights, devolved government and law enforcement and adding new voices Areas to be covered in the training include: introduction and main issues in internet governance; internet governance processes and how to get involved; and Kenya’s internet governance frameworks. The faculty is sourced from local and African actors such as the regulators, the executive, civil society leaders , digital rights activists, lawyers and technical community.

KeSIG’s mission is to increase capacity of key actors and potential actors in the local internet governance space. These include traditional human rights defenders and civil society organisations, students, academia, tech community and government departments. These actors are also commissioned to participate in international internet policy making for a thereby contributing African perspectives in global debates.

Kenya IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The United Nations Secretary-General formally announced the establishment of the IGF in July 2006 and the first meeting was convened in October 2006.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; and contribute to capacity building for Internet governance. 

The event brings together stakeholders representing government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the public in an informal setting for policy dialogue on Internet governance issues on an equal basis through an open and inclusive process. This type of cooperative engagement is usually referred to as the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance, which is one of the key features for the Internet’s success. This model is paramount to ensure that the Internet remains sustainable for economic and social development.

The forums are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to the global level. The outcomes of the country level (Kenya IGF) feed into the regional level (East Africa IGF), continental level (Africa IGF) and ultimately at the global level (IGF). Previously, Kenya hosted the East Africa IGF in 2009 and thereafter, the global IGF in 2011 in Nairobi. 

This year, the 14th Annual Global IGF Meeting convened by the United Nations, will be hosted by the Government of Germany and is scheduled to take place from 25 – 29 November 2019 in Berlin.

Side events: Policy briefs dissemination workshops

Several side events will be held during the IGF week. One of them will be the policy brief on Regulation OTTs – the challenges and recommendations.

More to follow …

Call for topics – KeIGF 2019

he Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. While the discussions give soft policy outcomes, KIGF is a knowledge sharing platform that informs and inspires policy actors in both the public and private sectors. The national forum also feeds into the regional and global IGFs through a chain of reporting and representation to the regional and global IGFs to ensure a bottom-up Internet policy development processes and a strong link between global internet policies and the national one. 

This year’s event shall be held on 1 August 2018 in Nairobi. Kindly save the date. Details of the venue and other logistics will be communicated in the coming days.  

On behalf of the local Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), we’d be interested to hear your views on the issues and topics that you think ought to be discussed during this year’s Kenya IGF. We have 3 themes in line with the Global IGF 2019 Themes i.e. Data Governance; Digital Inclusion; and, Security, Safety, Stability and Resilience.

Kindly share your input in this Google Form. We’ll be happy to receive your feedback by Sunday, 7 July, 2019. 
We shall then compile your input and prepare the topics for the pre-IGF online discussion in the coming weeks and the final IGF Programme. 

Call for Volunteers for the 2019 Kenya IGF MAG

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers from the different stakeholder groups to assist in the preparation of the Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) 2019, which will be held on Thursday, 1 August 2019. 

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) is an annual meeting that brings together various stakeholder groups to dialogue on ICT and Internet policy. The Steering Team otherwise known as the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) role is to assist in convening the Kenya IGF by preparing the programme and schedule and to improve the IGF process through community consultations, outreach and stakeholder engagement. MAG members volunteer and serve in their personal capacity, and are expected to have established linkages with their respective stakeholder groups. Please review the MAG TOR.

To express interest, please send an email to info@kictanet.or.ke with the subject line “Kenya IGF 2019 MAG” indicating your stakeholder group, expertise and why you are interested in joining the steering committee of KIGF 2019 by Tuesday, June 25 2019. 

Membership to the steering team is voluntary and all materials produced by KICTANet are published under creative commons licenses. Organisations from various stakeholder groups are encouraged to nominate representatives.

Call for volunteers for 2019 KeSIG steering committee

KICTANet wishes to invite volunteers to the steering committee of the 2019 Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG). Now in its fourth edition, KeSIG takes place prior to the Kenya IGF, with the aim of introducing beginners in internet governance to basic concepts in internet policy making. This is with the goal of creating and increasing the available expertise for participation in local and global internet governance processes. 

KeSIG is slotted for 29th to 31st July 2019. 

Please write to info@kictanet.or.ke, with the subject 2019 KeSIG steering committee if interested in collaboratively organising the school, explaining your interest. Membership to the team is on volunteer basis and we aim to have representation of diverse groups.


Find more information on KeSIG here. 
KeSIG Steering Team TORs