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Gambia hosts West African Internet Governance forum

Nov 8, 2010, 12:05 PM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Information Technology Association of The Gambia (ITAG), in collaboration with the West African Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) and the Ministry of Information Communication and Infrastructure, Tuesday organised a one-day West African Internet Governance Face to Face stakeholders' forum.

The event, held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, looked at key issues of The Gambia internet governance, which include internet accessibility within the country, ISPs and consumer protection, intellectual property, piracy, and self-regulation.

In his opening statement, Jamal Miknas, permanent secretary at the information and communication ministry, said the forum was the first of its kind in The Gambia and it would complement government efforts in putting the country on the map of world information, communication and technology.

 He said the government, through the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, has been taken giant strides in addressing internet accessibility within The Gambia.

He said: "In our quest to address the perennial issue of our international bandwidth, my ministry and Gamtel have signed the construction and maintenance agreement of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable project.

"The ACE project is geared towards addressing the issue of international bandwidth and accessibility in The Gambia by providing direct access to submarine cables through landing stations in The Gambia and other participating countries."

On the national front, the incumbent telecoms operator, Gamtel, is embarking on implementing the Next Generation Network project (NGN) to replace and upgrade the existing defunct transmission network.

Mr Miknas explained: "A very important area that needs intervention from ITAG and ISPAG (Internet Service Providers Association of the Gambia), my Ministry and other relevant stakeholders is the Implementation of Internet Exchange Point, namely IXPs.

"IXPs are integral for the development of Internet as it localizes traffic thereby reducing cost and pressure on International internet bandwidth."

Poncelet Ileji, National Resource Person of West African Internet Governance Forum The Gambia, in his presentation, said the internet governance is the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet.

He added: "The West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) is a project that aims to promote Internet Governance issues in West Africa through a multi-stakeholder process."

"The project is run by a consortium led by the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA)," he said, adding: "The fifth meeting of the internet Governance Forum was held in Vilnius, on 14-17 September 2010. It focused on the overall theme of IGF 2010."