African Internet Governance Forum - MAJI recommendation for expansive digital inclusion across Africa

Africa Internet Governance Forum Abuja 2023 – Identifying the Challenges of Digital Exclusion in Africa, innovations, recommendations and the role of the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative in closing the digital gap in Nigeria. 

The African Internet Governance Forum (African IGF) The Forum is a vibrant and inclusive platform that brings together stakeholders from across the African continent to engage in discussions and shape the future of Internet governance across Africa. The African Internet Governance Forum was established during the global IGF held in Nairobi on the 2nd to 4th of September, 2011 the Council of Ministers of ICT of the African Union sat together and approved the institution thus leading to the first African IGF meeting of participant which took place in Cairo the following year of 2012, this has periodically happened every year since its inception.

Annually, the African IGF brings together dedicated individuals and groups towards fostering open and inclusive dialogue on key issues that are negatively impacting Internet governance issues in Africa. This objective aims to promote collaboration, knowledge sharing and informed decision making among diverse stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations, academia, private sector entities, and technical communities. The recently concluded 12thAfrican Internet Governance forum which occurred on September 19th to 21st 2023 was hosted in Abuja Nigeria with theme;  

‘’ Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation,’’ shaping the Future of internet governance in Africa

This Edition hosted stakeholders from different parts of Africa and the world via physically and virtually platforms. Interactive participatory sessions and discussions were organized at the forum and key note speeches were delivered during the event. This raised questions, contributions, recommendations and analysis which was key. The forum also provides an avenue for stakeholder interaction, collaborations and partnerships across the continent. Alongside other key stakeholders, the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), with support from the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) participated in these sessions and discussions organized at the event. This was with the view of expanding MAJI’s understanding of the problem of digital access, and learn new approaches and explore collaborations that can further expand the impact of MAJI’s work in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The Media awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) uses human centered approach, low cost and accessible technologies to enhance the capacity of rural and urban marginalized groups and communities to amplify voices, strengthen human rights and advocate for sustainable inclusion of marginalized communities and groups across the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. In recent years and in  line with MAJI’s focus to contribute to closing the digital gap in Nigeria, The Media Awareness and Justice Initiative have deployed innovative low cost technology and approaches to rural and urban last mile communities. This has been achieved through rigorous multi stakeholder engagement, capacity building and community owned projects that empowers community stakeholders to use digital tools and digital access to improve economic opportunities and also provide the platform for this communities to participate more inclusively in social and environmental discussions. 

Following our participation in the sessions organized at the Africa IGF, the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI), identified various key issues affecting digital inclusion, expansion and use across Africa. These challenges are itemized below, 

  1. The issues and challenges of digital access which includes lack of adequate coverage, high cost for digital access, sustainability of community owned digital access, and use of available digital platform for individual and community development are consistent across the African continent.
  2. The lack of wide spread collaborations and targeted stakeholder support continues to hinder the deployment of innovative digital tools and platforms that can increase digital access and improve coverage to last mile communities across Africa.
  3.  The lack of innovative and inclusive digital access policies across Africa continues to stifle and limit proposed approaches and structures that increase digital access and expansion across Africa. 

The identified issues impacting digital inclusion and expansion were extensively deliberated on during the interactive and participatory sessions, with The Media Awareness and Justice Initiative documented the following recommendations from these discussions, 

  • African Governments should develop (where not available) or implement (where available digital inclusion and expansion policies that are realistic and people oriented.
  • There has to be more increased private/Public sector collaborations in advancing Digital investment and development in Africa.
  • MAJI believes that there is relative progress to Digital penetration in Africa. This however needs to be catalyzed through increased funding support for CSOs and groups with focuses on using community owned strategies that provide sustainable platforms for digital inclusion and expansion of last mile communities across Africa.
  • Within various African country contexts, there is also a need for CSOs and digital support groups to incorporate the use of low-cost digital tools and data into community campaigns, discussions and engagements.
  • There is a growing interest for adoption and use of digital tools. African Countries need to start the discussion around the growing challenge of E-Waste and how circular electronic economy and Reuse strategies can help to curb this growing challenge. 

The Media Awareness and Justice initiative MAJI have through the participation at the Africa IGF identified key factors negatively influencing Digital inclusion. To mitigate this, the Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) calls on stakeholders including government agencies and policy makers to carry out actions and policies that will promote and support digital inclusion and expansion in last mile communities across the African continent. These actions should be community oriented, sustainable, and accessible