The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah, has called for an African-led campaign to expand internet and ICT development in Africa. This according to him is the way to go if results are to be achieved in internet and ICT advocacy in Africa.
He noted that even though it is good to work through partnerships with Western organisations which often get lots of funding, it will be better if more African-based organisations could get such resources to lead the campaign due to the historical and cultural context.
“…Sometimes when you have Western organisations leading the campaign for Internet freedom and Internet rights in Africa, the debate is – this is again a neo-colonialism perspective or a Western agenda coming in, and that then becomes difficult for those of us on the ground to actually pursue the results that we want.”
He therefore called for “empowering grass-roots organisations in Africa to lead the campaign, rather than becoming subsidiaries and partners to western organisations to lead campaigns in Africa.
Sulemana Braimah made the call when contributing to discussions during a workshop on the topic From Ideas To Solutions: Funding Challenges For Internet Development at the 2014 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Istanbul, Turkey from 2nd to 5th September 2014.
The IGF is an annual multistakeholder forum which facilitates discussions on public policy issues related the internet and its governance. This year’s Annual IGF was under the theme “Connecting Continents For Enhanced Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance.” The Forum brought together over 3,000 participants (including two representatives from the MFWA) to discuss various issues concerning the governance of the internet ecosystem.
As part of the initiators and working group on the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, the MFWA participated at the launch of the Declaration at the IGF.
Participation at the Forum has contributed to enhancing the knowledge and capacity of the MFWA to engage effectively on internet governance and internet freedom issues. The
Forum also provided networking opportunities for the organisation to learn and share experiences with other organisations.
The MFWA’s participation at the IGF and other internet freedom related activities and events forms part of the organisation’s Internet Freedom and Digital Rights Advocacy Programme.