Gambia holds 4th Internet Governance Forum

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Ministry of Information Communication and Infrastructure (MOICI), in collaboration with Internet Governance Forum (IGF), The Gambia Chapter recently organised the Fourth Internet Governance Forum at a local hotel in Banjul.

The forum which has not taken place in six years, due to some constraints came under the theme: ‘Internet Governance in the New Gambia.’

The permanent secretary (PS) of MOICI, Awa Njie explained that the government of The Gambia was aware of the critical role Internet Governance could play in ensuring good governance and has taken the policy decision through MOICI to fully entrench it in all sectors of the Gambian economy; be it at policy level or grassroots level and in all the seven regions of the country.

According to PS Njie, the National Development Plan 2018-2021 (NDP) of The Gambia will build a digital economy as a cross cutting theme across all its objectives. She added that a media reform committee has been instituted which has completed its review and submitted the report to the Ministry of Justice for consideration.

“All the steps are geared towards creating the right environment for us to build and develop a digital economy as enshrined in our NDP of which governance issues will play a critical role,” she said.

The PS lamented that the forum was not a decision-making forum, however, the issues discussed, she said, would impact their policies as a government within the Internet Governance and their overall development and re- strategising of the Information and Communication Technology ICT’s polices in line with the NDP.

“In the New Gambia, the internet became fully accessible with no blockages of websites or social media sites. As soon as the new government came into late January 2017, this shows a complete testimony in the spirit of the New Gambia that the GOTG upholds all the principles of the African declaration of Internet Rights and Freedom. The need for affordable internet access and reliable band width to all Gambians no matter where they reside,” she said.

However, she reiterated that her hope was that the sub theme on Access and Infrastructure would look into ways ensuring reliable and affordable internet to the average Gambian especially those in our rural communities.

The vice chair of Information and Technology Association of The Gambia (ITAG), Beran Gillen said that the bedrock of the theme: Internet Governance in The New Gambia is very important within the context of the country today as the internet becomes accessible to all.

She added that their goal was to work with various stakeholders to influence the government on decision-making process and the idea to move from global to regional and national forums.

“The steering committee comprises NGOs civil society, Ministry of Justice and other relevant stakeholders. “Our main goal is to ensure that we protect online cyber security and sensitise the public to avoid online bullying,” she stated.

Author: Pa Modou Cham