Google/ISGPP Hold Experts Roundtable on Internet Policy, Governance in Africa


The Google Inc. and Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) have flagged off a partnership over internet revolution in the world and Africa’s response to the development.

The partnership takes off with an international conference on the internet policy and governance in Africa, which will hold at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, from Tuesday May 2.

With the theme: ‘Strengthening Internet Policy through Theoretically Grounded Research,’ the three-day roundtable will examine the appropriate ways Africa should participate in the internet revolution with implication for economic diversification, access to technological infrastructure and finance, content, privacy and security as well as knowledge and capacity building.

In a statement signed by the Executive Vice Chairman, ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, at the weekend, the conference, which is being jointly organised by both partners, is a multi-disciplinary research initiative aimed at providing a platform to address the research, publishing, teaching and policy development needs of Africa in the area of internet policy and governance with a view to enhancing African contributions in the global internet policy and governance discourse.

The roundtable is a scholarly interdisciplinary initiative that will bring together various researchers of African descent working in Africa and the Diaspora to identify and critically interrogate core issues about internet policy and governance in Africa.

The collaboratory conference will also set the tone for a Pan-African academic agenda for internet policy and governance. Over the three days, African academics and experts who understand the unique context and challenges of internet governance in Africa, spend quality time exploring and highlighting specific sub-regional issues from a broad-based conceptual approach.

Topics to be discussed during the round table include economic diversification (innovation, entrepreneurship and start-ups) with focus on disruptive and emerging technologies; access (infrastructure and finance); content (intellectual property/piracy intermediaries and copyright); privacy and security (safety and rights) as well as knowledge and capacity building.

The conference will present the results of the three-day discussions for implementation and concrete actions.

According to Olaopa, one of the envisaged outcomes of the collaboration is that it will ultimately give birth to a Pan-African think tank on internet policy and also serves as a platform for expanding frontiers in academic research and in advancing digital industrialization by Africans for Africans. The Pan- African think tank on internet fits in with the broader objectives of the ISGPP.

Practically, the international conference is expected to seek answer to several questions including the overall state of the internet policy and its governance in Africa, the key drivers of economic diversification in the internet economy and the critical issues hindering digital innovation, entrepreneurship and start-ups on the continent.

Others are examining the digital trends, internet of things and machine learning shaping African economies, how Africans will use internet to diversify their economies, the major challenges to accessing finance to drive digital infrastructure for universal access as well as the best practices on the continent for facilitating innovation ecosystems.

The roundtable will also examine the level and nature of the progress which the continent is making about digital education, the strategic knowledge and capacity gaps in internet policy that need to be addressed and how they should be tackled, issues of cyber and physical security as well as the intersection between innovation, copyright, entrepreneurial and technological areas, among others.

The ISGPP is a fast growing research-driven organisation, with a think tank known as the Public Policy Group (PPG) at the core of its operations. The PPG is dedicated to research and consultancy in support of governance and policy work in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

The school’s research activities are widespread covering all sectors: economy, governance, socio-cultural development, natural resources, national security and defence, education, science and technology, climate, environment and sustainable development and international affairs.

Also, as an organisation with global outlook, ISGPP provides to its partners and stakeholders nationally and globally an innovative platform for collaborative engagements on issues of governance, democracy and development.