Policymaking, implementation key to impacting digital inclusion, rights — Experts
Lagos, April 24, 2019 Panelists at the 2019 Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF) on Wednesday said that policymaking and implementation were the keys to impacting digital inclusion and rights.
The experts spoke on the topic,”Moving Policy Makers into Action to Advance Digital Inclusion – A Candid Conversation”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 7th annual bi-lingual pan-African forum, formerly known as the Internet Freedom Forum, provides a platform to debate tough topical global issues around digital inclusion and digital rights in Africa.
DRIF is best known for its track record of tangible actionable outcomes and has gained a reputation as an important platform where conversations on digital policy in Africa are shaped and policy directions forged.
Dr Ernest Ndukwe, Chairman, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), said that the Internet does not discriminate against anyone, adding that as long as there was access, even a child could have internet.
According to him, government should make the Internet available to the public by ensuring that there are favourable environment for the internet to thrive.
He listed things that would make the Internet available to people as digital literacy, access and eliminating or reducing the limiting factors that prevent people from having internet.
“Most nations have designated policy pronouncements to address these challenges but their actions have left much to be desired.
“Target for digital inclusion are set but hardly followed, government agencies do not cooperate among themselves and this does not go well to having a digital inclusion that is essential.
“Internet is intertwined with education, if one wants to operate on a digital platform and not on voice, one needs the basic skills,” he said.
Ndukwe, a former Vice Chairman of NCC, said that there was need to give citizens voice to be able to complain of issues, adding that the digital space was an avenue to push for such.
He urged the civil society not to keep quite but continue to drum the issue as loud as possible for the government to hear.
In her own contribution, Mrs Monilola Udoh, Director of Information and Communications Technology, Ministry of Communication, said that the country was still grappling with the basic things that are taking place elsewhere.
According to her, the country is not short of ideas but is operating a system that is an irony of some sort.
“We still have policies but not doing much to achieve the target; but we need to understand that government alone cannot achieve the success that is needed.
“There should be collaboration between government and civil society to open up conversation around good practices,” she said.
Ms Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, said that the issue was not the absence of policy or ideas but the poliferation of the ideas and lack of coordination or translation.
“There are many roadmaps to push for internet access and the country has attained 30 per cent penetration but the issue is that penetration is mostly in the urban areas while the rural areas are excluded,” she said.
Opeke said there was need for translation of the existing policies to realtime one, adding that consistency, collaboration and training to acquire the skill set will ensure success.
She added that having an online identity would also enable the citizens to be recognised by the rest of the world as well as help in detecting criminal minded persons.
Also Jane Ergeton-Ifehen, Country Manager Avanti, said that ICT would become a basic skill worldwide and so the need for Nigerians to join the band wagon.
According to her, to achieve this there is need for proper implementation of the existing policies and to be done strategically.
She added that collaboration and coordination would work when everyone’s interest and agenda was on line and that would lead to the sustainability of the policy.