By Tabitha Wangechi

The 2023 Kenya Youth Internet Governance Forum(IGF) was held on June 21st, with the theme “The Internet we want – Empowering all Youth,” 

The Forum emphasized the importance of youth’s voices in shaping the future of the internet and attracted over 70 participants from diverse stakeholder groups, including the technical community, civil society and academia.

Supported by major industry stakeholders such as Meta and the Communications Authority of Kenya, this forum provided a platform for organized youth participation. 

The youth-led initiative facilitated the meaningful inclusion of young people in the discussion of critical Internet governance issues, Including panel discussions on social media & mental health and capacity development in cybersecurity. 

Keith Andere, the Kenya Youth IGF coordinator, opened the event and highlighted its significance as the 3rd Youth IGF in Kenya, recognized by the United Nations Secretariat on Internet Governance.

He mentioned various internet governance initiatives such as the East African IGF, African IGF, and the global IGF in Kyoto, Japan 2023, and called for strategic and active participation by the Kenyan Youth. 

Grace Githaiga, the convenor at KICTANet, stressed the importance of youth actively participating in the ICT ecosystem through avenues such as the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KeSIG) and the Youth IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG).

Desmond Mushi from Meta highlighted the role of youth as ambassadors in the internet space and commended the Youth IGF for providing a platform for their voices. 

Senator Allan Chesang, Chairperson of the Standing Senate ICT Committee, acknowledged youth engagement in Internet governance and highlighted the importance of emerging topics like AI and content creation. 

He emphasized the government’s role in digital inclusion initiatives and expressed pride in its achievements in internet governance. 

Dr Bright Gameli spoke on a panel on Cybersecurity and mentioned free online learning resources and mentorship opportunities while stressing the importance of a genuine desire to learn. 

The forum facilitated networking, collaboration, and fostering dialogue on internet governance issues affecting the youth. It also identified emerging issues such as mental health, cybersecurity and AI.

The outcomes of the YouthIGF will play a pivotal role in shaping the 17th edition of the Kenya IGF. 

Tabitha Wangechi, is a Cybersecurity student with a background in Diplomacy and Internet Governance

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