Background Paper On SENDiWSA Proposal For Workshop On Global Digital Compact In Africa: Challenges And Solutions.

Puzzle pieces with word ‘Objective’

Introduction

The Global Digital Compact (GDC) is a proposed framework for international cooperation on digital issues. It was first proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General in his 2021 report Our Common Agenda. The GDC aims to promote an open, free, and secure digital future for all [1]. It is based on the following principles:

  • Human rights and fundamental freedoms must be respected in the digital age.
  • The digital divide must be bridged.
  • The digital economy must be inclusive and sustainable.
  • Digital technologies must be used to address global challenges such as climate change and poverty.
  • Digital security must be ensured.

The GDC is still under development, but it has the potential to be a major step forward in global digital cooperation. It could help to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are shared more widely and that the risks are mitigated.[2]

Here are some of the key areas where the GDC could promote cooperation:

  • Data governance: The GDC could help to develop international standards for data governance. This would help to ensure that personal data is collected, processed, and used in a way that respects privacy and human rights.
  • Cybersecurity: The GDC could help to strengthen international cooperation on cybersecurity. This would help to protect countries and individuals from cyberattacks.
  • Artificial intelligence: The GDC could help to develop international standards for the development and use of artificial intelligence. This would help to ensure that AI is used in a way that is beneficial to society.
  • Internet governance: The GDC could help to promote a more inclusive and democratic internet governance system. This would help to ensure that all countries have a voice in the development of the internet.

The GDC is a complex and ambitious initiative, but it has the potential to be a major force for good in the digital age. By promoting cooperation on key issues, the GDC can help to ensure that digital technologies are used to benefit all of humanity. This is the reason why we should discuss it more to get a clearer picture especially in Africa. And the SENDiWSA Workshop at the IGF is one of the ways to do that.

Current Situation

DNS Africa Media and Communications initiated the Stakeholder Engagement Digital Webinar Series for Africa (SENDiWSA), not-for-profits, multipurpose platform for deliberation and sharing of all ICT-Related Goods, Services, Best Practices, and the pillars of Digital Transformation across Africa [3].

The objective is to deliberate on engagement strategies and showcase products and services within and by Africans to address all digital-related issues across sectors and industries towards reducing poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as a non-commissioned, non-profit platform in Africa.

With issues spanning Data Governance, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet Governance, the platform would be able to address the difference in development across the African continent with attention to educational platforms such as Community Networks, sharing Financial Technologies (Fintech), and advanced solutions without borders. The proposed Workshop on Global Digital Compact in Africa: Challenges and Solutions will enhance what SENDiWSA is doing, and it will also elicit recommendations from the speakers during the workshop.

Objectives

The objectives of this session are:

  • To learn new knowledge on Global Digital Compact in Africa: Challenges and Solutions
  • To provide an opportunity to network with other people who share your interests.
  • To get feedback from the attendees as part of the takeaway on the GDC and Cooperation Session on Africa
  • To Increase cooperation and competition to sustain effective and deliberate economic growth and development.
  • To create, promote and strengthen cooperation among corporate bodies, institutions of learning, research organizations, media organizations, governments, and non-profits.
  • To elicit solutions from experts that will be discussing the Global Digital Compact and Cooperation within the African Community Context.
  • To stimulate the African community via organic discussion bringing organic solutions which are pragmatic for African scenario among others
  • To Increase cooperation and competition (co-ompetition) to sustain effective and deliberate economic growth and development.

This will inspire the African community to achieve its goals.

Challenges

  • Understanding the scale of divide and the parameters for measuring and accepting the divides.
  • Classifying and amending policies that may be a stumbling block to the discussions based on disparity in the global divides.
  • Engaging Governments and the Private Sector on collaborations and support within the short term for a progress report.

Opportunities

  • The GDC could help to address the digital divide in Africa by providing funding for infrastructure projects that would expand internet access to rural and underserved areas.
  • The GDC could help to promote digital skills development in Africa by providing funding for training programs that would help people develop the skills they need to use digital technologies.
  • The GDC could help to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are shared more equitably in Africa by supporting the development of policies that would promote access to digital technologies for all.
  • The GDC could help to mitigate the risks of cybercrime and other security threats in Africa by supporting the development of cybersecurity programs and initiatives.

The GDC could help to promote the responsible and sustainable use of digital technologies in Africa by supporting the development of policies and guidelines that would promote the use of digital technologies in a way that is beneficial to society and the environment.

The GDC has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people in Africa. By working together, governments, businesses, and civil society can build a more inclusive and secure digital future for Africa. In order to do so, it is pertinent that stakeholders understand the need for lower-cost ways to produce their digital products and services which can lead to healthy competition, which drives prices down and creates a larger variety of choices for consumers in the digital ecosystem.

This can be done when the various policy questions are addressed. This is the reason why SENDiWSA is taking this initiative in a Workshop to discuss the policy question so as to find solutions for the African Community on the Global Digital Compact and Cooperation. The following questions shall be discussed in the Workshop meeting looking at the African situation.

Output

At the end of the Workshop, it is expected that we will come up with recommendations that will help in solving some of the highlighted challenges. These recommendations are expected to be a direction finder for the solutions to the key policy questions enumerated above. Other initiatives are also expected to come up during the Workshop, which will help provide solutions to the listed challenges and concerns. This can also be submitted to the United Nations Consultations when such opportunities present themselves [4]. However, there will be a report published on the SENDiWSA Webinar and Internet Society, Nigeria Chapter Websites which will be used to sensitize the community. There will also be a follow-up webinar series.

 Relating the SDG     

The Global Digital Compact (GDC) speaks to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a brighter future for all. Through collaborative efforts, we can leverage digital technologies to realize the SDGs and establish a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world. The GDC and the SDGs are closely intertwined, with digital technologies playing a vital role in achieving the SDGs, while the SDGs ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are shared more fairly.

The proposed topic: “Global Digital Governance and Cooperation in Africa: Challenges and Solutions”, is related to all the 17 SDGs. However, the following are selected for specifics that the Workshop will address.

  • Goal 1: No Poverty – Digital technologies can help alleviate poverty by facilitating access to education, healthcare, and financial services.
  • Goal 2: Zero Hunger – Digital technologies can enhance food production and bolster food security.
  • Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being – Digital technologies can improve healthcare accessibility and enable preventative care.
  • Goal 4: Quality Education – Digital technologies can enhance educational access and facilitate personalized learning.
  • Goal 5: Gender Equality – Digital technologies can empower women and girls by granting access to education, employment, and financial services.
  • Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy – Digital technologies can promote renewable energy adoption and enhance energy efficiency.
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – Digital technologies can generate new employment opportunities and foster economic growth.
  • Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure – Digital technologies can drive the development of new industries and infrastructure.
  • Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities – Digital technologies can combat inequalities by providing access to education, healthcare, and employment prospects.
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – Digital technologies can foster sustainable urban development by supplying real-time data on traffic, pollution, and environmental factors.
  • Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions – Digital technologies can promote peace and justice by enabling access to information and empowering citizen participation in decision-making.
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals – Digital technologies can facilitate goal-oriented partnerships by serving as a platform for collaboration and communication.

If Africa embraces the potential opportunities brought by the GDC and leverages digital technologies in alignment with the SDGs, we can accelerate progress toward a sustainable and inclusive future in Africa. This will reflect in every aspect of Africa’s growth and development [5].

Organising Body:

DNS Africa Media and Communications

Collaborators:

  1. Internet Society, Nigeria Chapter
  2. Community NetHUBs Africa
  3. Culture Games Africa
  4. C4Urselves
  5. ICANN

REFERENCES

  1. United Nation, Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Source: https://www.un.org/techenvoy/global-digital-compact, Last Accessed:15th May, 2023)
  2. United Nations, https://www.un.org/techenvoy/content/roadmap-digital-cooperation Last Accessed:15th May, 2023)
  3. SENDiWSA, https://sendiwsa.org/about-us/ , (Last Accessed:16th May, 2023)
  4. SENDiWSA: GDC Africa,  https://sendiwsa.org/gdcafrica/ (Last Accessed:22nd May, 2023)
  5. United Nation, https://www.un.org/techenvoy/content/ongoing-work,  (Last Accessed:16th May, 2023)

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