Internet governance is hotly debated in the current world we live in, with people who are adamantly opposed to it and people who believe it is the future. The heart of internet governance has its foundations in technology used to facilitate public policy and shape the evolution and future of the internet. The internet itself is transnational, open, interconnected, and hard to manage. When thinking about the internet, the only real way to provide governance is through a multi-stakeholder approach.
Multi-stakeholder means that no one individual entity will have sole input; it will be a combined effort. The multi-stakeholder approach bases its foundations on the following components:
- Participation from stakeholders (organizations, governments, individuals, who have a claimed interest)
- Distributed responsibilities and rights to participants
- Variety of input from different backgrounds
Additionally, in order for this approach to work, there must be decentralization from the government. While the governments can have some input, they are not to be in charge of regulations. The backbone is the bottom-up process, where the people (the users) of a product, the internet, have the most control and say in what happens. Just as the internet is open and available to everyone, so must be its governance. There is no room for a lack of inclusivity or open-mindedness.
Recently, there was a meeting of the African Ministers of Communication and Information Technologies in Ethiopia at the second conference of the Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and ICT (STC CICT-2). The aim of the conference was to discuss and (potentially) make decisions on a variety of programs that will impact Africans in these kinds of realms. The conference was set to discuss topics ranging from internet access to digital literacy of African citizens. The chair of the committee, Minister Modibo Arouna Touré, stated that “the he Governance of the Internet is a concern to all of us because it is in the heart of economic, political, geopolitical stakes at the national level. For this particular reason it becomes imperative for Africa to become actively involved in the dynamics of Internet Governance, Cyber security, and Cybercrime.” This marks a large occasion, with African nations bidding for their share of global internet governance.
This conference and organization is an example of how regional mulit-stakeholder internet governance is an important step in a more global picture, with representatives from African nations discussing and deciding how to make the internet more accessible as well as wanting citizens to play a bigger role, something only possible if they are digitally literate. The end goal is to be represented on a global scale, but it must start somewhere, and this second regional conference is the beginning.