President of the Senate, Godswil Akpabio, has called on African parliamentarians to prioritise legislative framework to shape a trustworthy digital future for Africa.
Akpabio stated this when he declared the Africa Internet Governance Parliamentarian Symposium open. The event was hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in collaboration with other development partners in Abuja yesterday.
Represented by the chairman, Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Sen. Afolabi Salisu, Akpabio enjoined the parliamentarians to use the symposium to familiarise themselves with the Global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) landscape and International Internet Governance processes.
He also charged the lawmakers to encourage active participation in regional and global discussions, updating themselves on pertinent internet governance and digital policy matters.
The theme is instructive:
‘Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security, and Innovation.’
He said the theme reflects the deepest yearnings of all Africans for a concerted effort to keep in step with the rest of the world in the ICT race.
“We now live in a digital world and the significance of the Internet and digital policy in shaping the future of our nations and the African continent at large is not lost on us.
The IGF provides stakeholders from diverse backgrounds with a unique platform to come together, exchange ideas, and encourage collaborations that will contribute to realizing the theme “The Internet We Want – Empowering All People.”
“It is noteworthy that the Africa Internet Governance Forum (AflGF) has been a booster in championing regional conversations on digital policy issues.
“Building upon the success of previous Parliamentary Track initiatives, we are delighted to bring together parliamentarians from various African zones and regions, echoing the spirit of unity that the continent stands for.
“I understand that this symposium’s focus, “The Parliamentarians’ Contribution to Shaping Digital Trust on the African Continent” will elaborate on the crucial role each and every one of us in this hall should play in creating a digital future marked by inclusivity, security, and innovation.”
In an interview, a member of the Ghanaian Parliament, Samuel Nartey George, said the IGF is part of a framework in the Office of the United Nations Secretary General which has been running at the global level for some years now.
“You are talking about legislation and creating safe spaces on the internet and making sure that governments have the right framework for internet problems and the safety of citizens’ digital rights.
“Now, you can continue to have the animosity and acrimony that exists between civil society technical communities and government, but then you can leverage on the power of parliaments because parliamentarians are the ones who pass the legislation anyway.
“The executive answers to parliament as well because parliament exercises oversight, and so it was important to bring members of parliament into the conversation at the policy level for them to understand what the challenges are from technical community what the demands and needs and aspirations of civil society and then to be able to reflect that in the legislation that we pass and then in the oversight that we give to the executive,” he added.