Google, Institute Partner on New Policies for Africa’s Digital Space

Google in Africa and Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) are partnering to explore ways of evolving new policies and regulatory environment that support digital innovations in Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that academics in relevant disciplines drawn from across Africa are gathered at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan for a three-day conference to end on May 5.

The conference tagged: “2017 Africa Academic Network on Internet Policy” is organised by ISGPP and Google in Africa.

Mrs Titi Akinsanya-Bolarinwa, the Public Policy and Public Affairs Lead, Google in Africa said that the gathering was an opportunity to bring Africa’s intellectual minds together to identify the gaps and evolve plans to address them.

She said that the effort was to ensure that it worked with the government on policies that directly impact the technology sector as it was critical to the development of the country.

“Technology will always move faster than we can make policies as human beings due to less restriction.

“But this does not mean that we should not make or do enough to ensure we have the right policy and regulatory environment that will support innovation, particularly the digital sector,’’ she said.

Akinsanya-Bolarinwa said that the conference was an avenue to interrogate and look at policy formulation in a sound manner as well as key issues around accessing infrastructure.

According to her, if we are moving forward with digital economy, we have to support it with innovation and for that to happen, we have to support it and invest in intellectual work.

She said that the conference should be able to look at copyright and intellectual protection because increasingly there were innovations that emerge from the market.

Akinsanya-Bolarinwa said that knowledge and capacity building would also be considered at the roundtable and expressed optimism about a better outcome.

“We recognise that we are multinational in Google and we are putting this in motion not to serve our particular needs but to ensure that the space we are doing business is ripe for innovation.

We have 80 percent representation in this conference and we have ensured that there is representation from the Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Africa,’’ she said.

Dr Tunji Olaopa, the Executive Vice-Chairman, ISGPP said that the key objective of the gathering was to lay the foundation on the status of Africa considering the way the internet was evolving.

Olaopa, a former permanent secretary in the civil service said the objective was to ensure that policy was not stagnant, saying it would leverage on the IGSPP network with the government.

“Nigeria is said to have 93 million internet users, which is the largest in Africa. Frankly speaking, it is not enough to have a large presence on the internet.

“There is need to start-up a thinking process that explores the deeper capacity the internet possesses to transform Africa into a formidable digital economy,’’ he said.

Prof. Akin Mabogunje, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, ISGPP expressed happiness for the collaboration to investigate emerging problems with global expansion and unfettered use of the internet.

“It is remarkable that as of 2002 when the world held the conference on Sustainable Development in South Africa, the teledensity of most African countries including Nigeria was hardly up to1 per 100,000 of the inhabitants.

“Today, the situation has changed dramatically. Most countries in Africa are now part of the global revolution in information technology.

“Nigeria can boast of over 160 million subscribers to the mobile phone system with enormous capacity for accessing the internet,’’ he said.

Mabogunje said that the far-reaching impact of the revolution on human productive and reproductive activities were no longer issues in doubt.

NAN reports that the conference with the theme: “Strengthening Internet Policy through Theoretically Grounded Research’ will also discuss the state of internet policy innovation in Africa and Internet security.

Other issues to be discussed are economic diversification through innovation and start-ups, inclusiveness in internet access and content protection, policy and strategy action points.

Academics at the conference include Prof. Sola Aderounmu, President, Nigeria Computer Society, Prof. Ado Dan-Isa, member of Board of Trustees, Nigeria ICT Forum and Prof. Olufunmilayo Arewa.

Source: The Nation