New voices at Kenya School of Internet Governance 2021

KeSIG class in session

The Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG)  is the premier training platform to grow new voices in the internet governance space in Kenya and also serves the larger African continent. KeSIG, convened annually from 2016, is held just before the Kenya Internet Government Forum. The 6th edition was held from 10th – 23rd September 2021.

KeSIG training acts as an internet governance training Bootcamp and includes aspects of digital inclusion in internet governance to enable the cohort to engage in ICT and digital ecosystem systemic enhancement including the policymaking process. KeSIG has an elaborate curriculum delivered via an online learning platform, instructor-led discussions, and live insights from industry experts. The main topics are

  1. The evolution of the Internet,
  2. Internet Design Principles,
  3. Introduction to Internet Governance,
  4. National and transnational organisations’ role in governing the internet,
  5. Role of private sector – passive observer or active contributor?
  6. Selected key global Internet governance Issues,
  7. Community networks and citizen engagement models.

The final three days of the learning program include sessions where industry speakers engage with students from a practitioner’s perspective as well as instructor-led discussion forums.

Prior to the development of the KeSIG learning program before the year  2015, there were many requests by new voices on the Internet Governance space to get induction or training on ICT policy making and advocacy. Since Schools of Internet Governance (SIGs) have become an acceptable model for induction, KICTANet responded to this need and introduced KeSIG in the East African Region. KeSIG was the first country-led SIG initiative in Africa.

The selection process of both faculty and students since inception ensures that participation is inclusive. The criteria for selection include affirmative action to include persons from marginalized groups such as the Counties, PWDs, state and non-state actors, diverse professionals drawn from various multi-stakeholder groups, gender equality, geographical representation, those from low income,  rural areas, AND LGBTQI+.

Applications are received through a Google form that is shared on KICTANet’s mailing list, website, and social media platforms. The community is encouraged to widely share the application form, downstream to get as diverse applicants as possible.

KeSIG has over the years developed leading voices in the internet governance space both regionally and internationally. It is expected that this year’s fellows will become ambassadors and champions for digital inclusion including internet governance after the training as has been demonstrated by previous cohorts.

This year’s process began with identifying trainers, industry speakers and updating the curriculum and e-learning platform. A rigorous candidate screening was undertaken and an induction session led to the KESIG 2021 kick-off. Students were taken through an induction on how to use the e-learning platform and the expectations of the course on the 10th of Sept. 2021.

KeSIG 2021 was conducted using a combination of the KICTANet developed e-learning platform and online interaction through zoom video call. Several industrial leaders, policy practitioners, and implementers had a chance to interact with the students. KeSIG 2021 received a total of 342 applications across 21 counties in Kenya and 8 from 5 countries in Africa after which 115 individuals were shortlisted for the training. Students who successfully completed the program were 74. This year’s school had 8 industry speakers deliver content touching on various topics to demystify the Internet governance process.

  1. Overview of the course, John Walubengo.
  2. Nicole Gregory – British High Commission, Head of People and Partnerships
  3. History of the internet, and Internet Infrastructure development. Paul Muchene – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
  4. Content moderation, Sarah Muyonga and Desmond Mushi – Facebook
  5. Private Sector’s Role in Internet Governance, Rosemary Kimwatu
  6. National/Transnational Organizations role in Internet Governance, Ali Hussein
  7.  Role of the regulator in internet governance  – Robin Busolo, Communications Authority of Kenya.

After an engaging two weeks of study, the students will be issued certificates. In addition, the students also shared their experience at the graduation ceremony held at the Internet Governance Forum and also through blogs published by the students.

Program Evaluation

After evaluation of the training,  57% of students responded that they were very satisfied with the overall experience, and 34% were satisfied. 47% asked for more experts and industrial speakers to talk to address them, while 46% felt the training should be longer.

The report of the KeSIG 2021 is available here. The program is available here.

Blog by Mwendwa Kivuva with contributions from Rosemary Kimwatu, and Judy Okite.

Exclusivity, Universal access, and meaningful connectivity. Is Kenya achieving it?

Access and inclusivty panel moderated by Bob Ochieng

Kenya just concluded the Kenya Internet Governance Forum, KeIGF2021 took a dive into what it takes to achieve a united internet locally as globally and what could possibly hinder this. Themed; United Internet, the hybrid forum was hosted for the 14th time since 2008.

The whole day forum, hosted by KiCTANet covered three main topics; inclusion, universal access as well as meaningful connectivity.

Opening remarks were made by Director-General, Communications Authority of Kenya, Mercy Wanjau “to create a united internet we need to narrow the digital divide”, which the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a non-inclusive digital ecosystem here in Kenya. In order to achieve a united internet; all people should have access to reliable, stable, and most importantly affordable internet access.

She said, “The internet has been a critical tool for social change, During the #COVID19 the internet has provided a solution to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. It has tremendously improved life in all aspects.”

She added that it is no doubt that the internet has evolved to become a critical tool for social change, as it has and continues to shape human life.Covid-19 pandemic has made this evident, as the internet provides solutions to the challenges brought forth by the pandemic.

Mercy Wanjau holds these sentiments and believes that a call to action for regulators to ensure universal internet for all people is of paramount importance.

Executive Chief Officer of the Kenya Network Information Centre (KeNIC) and administer of .ke domain names system in Kenya, Joel Karubiu, explained that as KeNIC manages and administers .ke their role is to ensure that secure, reliable, and accessible internet is provided to the .ke internet ecosystem. Adding that internet access is no longer seen as a luxury but as a basic human right, and that unstable internet connections caused by unreliable electricity infrastructure poses a threat to its access.

The day was a beehive of activities ranging from online safety to data protection and legislation.

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.

The United Nations Secretary-General formally announced the establishment of the IGF in July 2006 and the first meeting was convened in October 2006. Since then it has been held annually to discuss internet-related issues.

Republished from CIO Africa, the event animators.

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 will be follow shortly on the KICTANet documents portal.

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.