What Is Internet Governance Forum and Why Zimbabwe Needs To Establish One?

Two months ago, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), held a one day conference to deliberate on issues around the establishment of the Internet Governance Forum in Zimbabwe in line with the directive from the SADC Ministers responsible for ICT, Postal and Courier Services.

By Tongai Mwenje

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder forum for public policy dialogue on issues of internet governance. It brings together all the stakeholders in the internet governance debate, those representing the government, the private sector, the civil society, the technical community and the academic community on an equal basis, through an open and inclusive process.

The IGF, is mandated to be a discussion for facilitating dialogue between the forum’s participants. This body has an obligation to identify existing and emerging internet related public policy issues, bringing them to the attention of the relevant authorities and the general public, where appropriate, making recommendations to the relevant authorities but with their hands tied as they do not have any direct decisions making authority.

The objectives of this Forum vary from one level to another (Global, Regional and National) depending on the internet environment at a particular level.

The objectives of the Zimbabwe Internet Governance Forum (ZIGF) are as follows:

– To advance internet governance issues in Zimbabwe through a multi-stakeholder framework as well as facilitating partnerships and coalitions that deliver coordinated domestic responses, initiatives and synergies that best promote and protect the nation’s position on the internet ecosystem.

-To increase awareness and build capacity on Internet Governance issues in Zimbabwe so as to ensure informed dialogue on policy and related matters between stakeholders.

-To establish a coordinated and coherent framework for dealing with Internet governance issues in Zimbabwe.

– To facilitate the participation of a broad range of stakeholders in Internet Governance issue

– To ensure Zimbabwe’s views are represented in the SAIGF, African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF), ICANN and Global Internet Governance Forum (GIGF).

The Global Internet governance Forum was formally established in July 2006 by the United Nations Secretary General. At a regional level, there is the African Internet Governance Forum (AIGF), which has five regional initiatives to which Zimbabwe falls under the Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF).

The block which Zimbabwe falls under, was inaugurated in September 2011 with the overall objective of developing a coordinated and coherent approach to dealing with Internet Governance issues in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Remember, within the SADC region, only four out of fifteen members states have National Internet Governance Forum, the member states includes Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. Zimbabwe is yet to comply with the directive of having a National Internet Governance Forum.

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