Zimbabwe technology stakeholders today gathered at Harare International Conference Centre to discuss the creation of the first Zimbabwe Internet Governace Forum, a requisite that has been set by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
Speaking to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of ICT Postal and Courier Services, engineer Sam Kundishora on the sidelines of the forum, he said that he was optimistic that Zimbabweans will today be able to form the framework to govern the internet forum.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito & Tongai Mwenje
“I am glad there is a general consensus that we really need to create the framework and all stakeholders here have unanimously agreed towards the move, though we have a divergent of views on how best it should be implemented we are moving towards the crafting”
Zimbabwe is one of the few countries regionally which is yet to create its own internet governance forum, a move which was announced 10 years ago during the United Nations organized the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
One of the most critical outcomes from this landmark summit was the creation of the Internet Governance Forum, or the “IGF”, where each year there are global, national, and regional IGFs events happening around the world.
The permanent secretary said that one of the resolutions reached was to create a dot Africa concept, a local world wide network, technically which is a wide area network with local traffic which will plug holes forcing us to drive local content outside our borders only to bring it back at a cost.
“Traffic created for Zimbabweans or Africans first have to hit international servers before responding, a move which means more costs on the broader communication, even local content is mostly hosted in Europe and American servers, which has kept the cost of internet access in Zimbabwe higher”
The Internet Governance Forum was first established in 2006, following a directive from the United Nations Secretary General, as a new Forum for Multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogue. In September 2011, the Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF) was established and all the 15 SADC Member States have representatives on the Forum.
In his “Road towards an NIGF for Zimbabwe” presentation, the Deputy Director (Communications) with the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Mr. James Madya, bemoaned the absence of Zimbabwe on the list of SADC countries that have so far set up NIGFs.
“ Out of the 15 Member States that comprise SADC, only four Member States (Malawi, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, and South Africa) have so far set up their own National Internet Governance Forums (NIGFs). Zimbabwe was, until today, among the 11 SADC Member States that had yet to set up their own NIGFs.”,
There was general a resistance in the actual implementation and set up of the IGF with the majority of stakeholders debating on the execution and meaning of the other standards while the executives proposed largely scrutinised as stakeholders pushed for a more open and free forum.
Mr Tichafara Rixon Mujuru, Head ICT Potraz, proposed Zimbabwe Internet Governance Forum Framework which was received with various criticisms from the delegates under the pretext of its exclusion.
“The proposed draft doesn’t give a true reflection of our own thinking, it’s a copy and paste document hence cannot be ideal for our local consumer”,
said one delegate. Some delegates also said that they need time to look into the document then convene another meeting after going through that document than ambushing people with an imported document.
The discussion ended after a group break where stakeholders formed various groups to have an introspective look into the proposed frameworks and come with the final draft.