Executive Secretary, Ms. Vera Songwe visited the Knowledge and Library Services Section

The Executive Secretary of ECA, Ms. Vera Songwe, visited the facilities of the Knowledge and Library Services Section (KLSS) on 29 August 2017.

Accompanying her in the visit were Chief of Staff Mr. Collen Kelapile and Director of PIKMD Mr. Jimmy Ocitti. Ms. Irene Onyancha, Chief of KLSS is seen here briefing Ms. Songwe on the existing resources and facilities of the Library as well as its upcoming redesign project to make it a state-of-the-art knowledge commons facility.

Ms. Songwe was appointed in April 2017 by United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres.

The Cameroonian economist and banking executive is the first woman to ever serve in this role.

Ms. Songwe has been working as the International Finance Corporation’s regional director for Africa covering West and Central Africa since 2015. She was also a non-resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institute: Global Development and Africa Growth Initiative (since 2011).

She brings to the position a longstanding track record of policy advice and results-oriented implementation in the region, coupled with a strong strategic vision for the region.

Ms. Songwe was previously Country Director for Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania at the World Bank (2012-2015), Adviser to the Managing Director of the World Bank for Africa, Europe and Central Asia and South Asia Regions (2008-2011) and Lead Country Sector Coordinator (2005-2008).


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    Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2017 was held successfully in Geneva Switzerland, 18 - 21 December. Governments, business community, civil society, technical community, academia, independent professionals and intergovernmental organisations, from all United Nations' regions (including Africa), were there physically and remotely. No one ought to be absent, as the big gathering featured subjects that affect every of mankind's aspirations and engagements now and in future - from economic to health, science and technological to social, legal to linguistic, educational to political, name it.

    Africa's participation was especially striking. In none of past IGFs since 2006 did the region record the impressive attendance it recorded in this. So many of the African delegates were youth and women, which was a positive shift from the norm.

    Sessions in the event:

    There were 254 sessions, including Opening and Closing. Main/special sessions were nine. (Mr. Wisdom Donkor featured in two. Wisdom is a member of IGF Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group - MAG - and a government delegate from Ghana.) On Day 0 were 40 pre-event sessions. 214 other sessions happened from Day 1 to Day 4.
    Africa organised seven (7) sessions whose subjects included Internet shutdowns, digital inclusion, digital rights, and African IGF 2017 held in Egypt. Over 60℅ of the organisers and panelists of these sessions were youth and women.

    Government participation

    19 (or 35℅) of 54 national governments in Africa had delegation. These are Benin, Chad, Congo Democratic Republic, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia.

    Highlights from African IGF Open Forum, the most interactive and exciting of all the sessions I attended:.

    A) Attendance and Panelists
    Over 96 participants attended African IGF Open Forum held on Day 3 (20 December 2017), but only 44 were on the online list of attendees of the session. On the panel were Ms. Christine Arida (Director of telecom services and branding, National Telecom Regulatory Authority, Egypt) as moderator; Ms. Mary Uduma (Co-ordinator, West Africa IGF) who gave reports on African IGF Charter and West Africa IGF; Chairman of North Africa IGF MAG (who reported on North Africa IGF); Mr. Michael Lindsay (Co-ordinator of Central Africa IGF); and Mr. Adil Suleiman (Senior ICT Officer, African Union Commission) and Mr. Makane Faye (African IGF Secretariat) both of who gave report on African IGF 2017.

    B) Capacity Building for Policy Msking
    There was Information about a forthcoming €2.5 million 3-year massive capacity building program to be done by the African Union Commission and the European Commission in collaboration with civil society and other stakeholder communities. According to Mr. Faye, "It is policy and regulation initiative on digital Africa."

    C) AfIGF 2017
    Ms. Arida, Mr. Faye and Mr. Suleiman reported on 6th African IGF (AfIGF) held 4 - 6 December 2017 in Egypt with 314 participants (on-site + remote), 37% male, 43℅ female (from 37 countries), including 30 African youth who were in the AfIGF right from African School of Internet Governance held 28 November - 2nd December. Theme of the AfIGF = "Enabling inclusive digital transformation of Africa" with 13 main sessions and 8 parallel sessions.

    D) AfIGF 2018
    7th AfIGF (2018) is to be hosted by Sudan. Dates to be announced hopefully in 1st Quarter of 2018 (that is, probably by or before end of March 2018) to enable prospective participants to have enough time to apply for and obtain visas. This followed complaints that time for processing visa for AfIGF 2016 (South Africa) and AfIGF 2017 (Egypt) was too short and many people missed visa for on-site participation.

    E) Sub-regional IGF Charter
    There was information about North Africa IGF Charter which was adopted in Marrakech in 2016. This is the first production of an IGF Charter by a sub-regional IGF in Africa.

    F) AfIGF Charter
    AfIGF Charter was adopted in AfIGF 2017 in Egypt, This charter provided, among many Internet Governance (IG) matters, for a nominating committee (NomCom) that will nominate people into AfIGF MAG. NomCom will be announced from January 2018 and thereafter a call for nomination of MAG members will be issued, as Mr. Faye said.

    G) Involvement of Sub-regional IGFs
    Only two (2) sub-regional IGFs was reported to be fully involved in IGF processes. They are West Africa and Southern Africa IGFs. What happened to Central Africa, East Africa and North Africa?

    H) National IGFs
    Of 54 countries in Africa, only 25 countries have national IGF.

    Lessons for Discussions

    1. Sustain the improved women and youth involvement and prevent men slacking
    More African women than men and increased youth attendance are a landmark. What made it happen and how can it be sustained or improved? What can be done to prevent men's participation from slumping into troubling state?

    2. Get governments more involved
    At 35℅, African governments' participation needs a lot of improvement. Also, francophone African governments lag far behind. Of six (6) AfIGFs held so far (2012 - 2017), francophone governments had hosted none. Governments are a central stakeholder group in Africa's context. They are the chief actors in infrastructure provision, in public policy making, in human rights and privacy violation and in Internet shutdown, which are big technology and development challenges in Africa. Seeking solutions to these and allied challenges without our governments is only marginally better than a futile exercise. What strategization will be effective to get African governments participate as appropriate in IG and ICT for development (ICT4D) discussions? Who will be involved in the strategization? Government participation shouldn't end in sending delegates. It should more importantly be in sending the calibre of officials who are so interested as to be in all relevant sessions, can make productive contributions and as well give influential reports when they return (officials who have authority to make relevant decisions or recommendations and/or lead their implementation).

    3. Not yet there: Get to another level up
    At the time Mr. Faye first spoke during the African IGF Open Forum, he was excited that the number of its attendees was far more than the number in any past AfIGF Open Forum. So, the 2017 number (96+) is a record worth celebrating. It shows that (a) Africans are becoming more african (aware that it is their responsibility to address Africa's challenges), (b) they're beginning to understand that giving Africa a pride of place in IG and development is a collective role, and (c) AfIGF is really working hard to achieve its goalsget AfIGF. These place more responsibility on all IG and development stakeholders in Africa and their concerned friends outside the continent, as this heartening performance MUST either be exceeded or be maintained.

    4. Learn and follow instructions and process
    (a) In future, participants should be more careful to find out and follow instructions and processes for events in order not to shortchange themselves and the continent.
    (b) Africans must be digitally skilled enough to be able to effectively use all electronic platforms, devices, applications and other tools available for use in anything /anywhere they're involved.
    These two recommendations derive from the fact that statistics IGF Secretariat have of IGF 2017 attendees may not reflect the true number of African attendees. IGF Secrétariat is most likely to depend on the online record generated by IGF 2017 app named Sched. This means that African IGF Open Forum attendees were 44, not 96+ (because the "96+" figure was from a handwritten list collated by AfIGF Secrétariat (organiser of the open forum). Sched required a participant to complete his/her profile on IGF Website to be listed as an attendee. The participant must also add a session to his/her online personal schedule of sessions to attend, else he/she won't be on the online list of that session's attendees. In essence number of AfiGF Open Forum attendees in excess of 44 (i.e. 52+) must be attendees who didn't complete their online profiles plus those who didn't add AfIGF Open Forum to their personal online schedule plus others who didn't make a schedule in utter disregard of the event app, Sched.

    Africa's participation in IGF 2017 was really encouraging. Much improvement, however, should be effected for Africa to harness the promises the Internet and other ICTs hold for nations to achieve sustainable development goals.

    Transcripts of the discussions / Questions & Answers in the African IGF Open Forum and other IGF 2017 sessions are available through this Web address: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/igf-2017-transcripts. The African IGF Charter can be downloaded from this address: http://www.afigf.org/sites/default/files/2017/Draft%20charter%20of%....

    There are other Africa-related ICT4D essays on my blog site: www.chrisprinceudochukwunjoku.blogspot.com. I don't blog frequently, because of demands of my primary job, but my blogs are insightful, rich in analysis and useful recommendations. Let us work hard together to build the Africa everyone will enjoy in the present and in the future.
    IGF 2017 Transcripts
  • Cyber security is cardinal to the advancement of knowledge in Africa. Hence the urgent need for African authorities to put in place measure and legislations that protect and secure the cyber environment. And since knowledge is more valuable when it is shared, the issues of availability, cost and quality of internet services also need to be addressed so as to create easy access opportunity to the largest possible number of people.
  • Great insights all. I am of the opinion that before we forge ahead there is the need to come up with a frame work that defines the scope of Cyber Security as it were. That way, thus forum is d the "spearhead" or "fountain" of modalities required to secure the subject matter in whatever quarter we push it through. Yes there is the issue of corruption and decadence we however should not yield to that decay by refusing to put together the framework which defines the scope of Cyber security.
  • I am glad to be a member of this forum. I hope to learn from every member as we share knowledge of use of ICT for development in our continent. Thank you.
  • The NEPAD ICT Knowledge Space invites you all to join in our discussions on ICT policy in Africa. Get involved!
  • We’re still feeling that “knowledge management isn’t receiving enough attention in our organization”.
    This is a tragedy because the World Economic Forum has in February identified Knowledge as one of the key things for the world to be competitive, and the global environment to be competitive. The work of the world is evolving is such a way that knowledge, and knowledge skills are going to be paramount in being competitive in our careers. And it seems to me that some senior managers are not yet paying enough attention to this.
  • « One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” said Grace Hopper
    Measurement impacts the economy in four ways: (1) quality control or improvement in the efficiency of manufacturing processes, (2) assessment of the added value provided by an innovation, (3) specification of products and services for trade, and (4) economic externalities e.g. regulations that protect the citizen and the earth.
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