Tech Stakeholders Urged to Collaborate on Challenges

In a High-Level Panel Session titled “The Internet We Want – Empowering All Kenyan People” at the Kenya Internet Governance Forum [KIGF], stakeholders in the technology sector were called upon to join forces and tackle pressing challenges in the industry. The session brought together experts from various organizations, including the Communications Authority of Kenya, Kenya ICT Action Network, Paradigm Initiative, GIZ, and Meta.

The Kenya IGF serves as an inclusive platform that annually convenes stakeholders from the government, private sector, civil society, technical and academic community, and the public to discuss Internet Governance. This year, the global IGF theme, “The Internet We Want – Empowering All People,” was aligned with the local context of the Kenya IGF.

[L-R] ‘Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Bernd Lakemeie, GIZ Kenya, Ms Grace Githaiga, KICTANet, Dr Vincent Ngundi, CA, Mercy Ndegwa, META during the High [C-Level] Panel – The Internet We Want – Empowering All Kenyan People during the Kenya Internet Governance Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dr. Vincent Ndungi, Ag Director of Cybersecurity at the Communications Authority of Kenya, highlighted Kenya’s liberal approach to Internet regulation, emphasizing the government’s belief in an open, liberal, and secure Internet. Despite facing challenges during elections, Kenya did not resort to shutting down the Internet. Ngundi emphasized the importance of managing the Internet while maintaining its openness.

Grace Githaiga, CEO of Kenya ICT Action Network, stressed the need for secure and discrimination-free online spaces that foster a positive digital environment. She emphasized the importance of securing the image of the Internet from cyber threats and ensuring the inclusion of all individuals as new technologies emerge.

‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, underscored the significance of an Internet that empowers people. He highlighted the disparity between those who are connected and those who are deliberately disconnected. Sesan emphasized that the Internet should focus on economic opportunities and the rights of citizens rather than wasting resources on clampdowns and illegal surveillance.

Mercy Ndegwa, Public Policy Director at Meta, called for strong governance policies to guide individual behavior on the platform. Ndegwa highlighted the global dialogue on shaping the desired Internet and stressed the importance of engaging youth and supporting their innovation.

Bernd Lakemeier, Director of the Digital Transformation Centre at GIZ, emphasized the organization’s commitment to a free and fair Internet. Lakemeier highlighted the importance of utilizing the Internet productively, not just for consumption but also for contributing to sustainable development.

The session also explored emerging issues in data governance, including progress and challenges in legal frameworks and promoting best practices to enhance trust in the digital ecosystem. Rose Mosero, Deputy Data Protection Commissioner at the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, emphasized the need for collective respect for privacy, equity, and safety. She highlighted collaboration, education, and an innovative environment as essential elements for realizing the vision of an Internet that meets these criteria.

Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui, Principal Secretary in charge of ICT and Digital Economy, participated in an evening fireside chat titled “Harnessing the Power of AI and Emerging Technologies.” Tanui recognized the significance of AI as a tool that is here to stay. He called upon stakeholders to plan strategically, leveraging the potential of AI while minimizing associated risks.

Tanui challenged participants to propose new policies, regulations, and industry best practices that would position Kenya as a key player in the digital economy, particularly in the AI sub-sector. He acknowledged Africa’s current position in the AI value chain, primarily limited to data annotation, and emphasized the need to develop local capacities in specialized AI skills, such as data science, machine learning, and data engineering, to elevate Africa’s role in the higher levels of the AI value chain.

By collaborating and addressing challenges related to Internet governance, AI, cybersecurity, and cyberbullying, stakeholders in the technology sector can pave the way for a more inclusive, secure, and productive digital environment.

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