Perspective from Africa: Data Governance and Digital Inclusion

The American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola served as a remote Hun to the concluded Internet Governance Forum that held in Berlin. To afford many not able to travel to Germany the opportunity of participation in the global meeting, Internet Society Nigeria Chapter (ISOCng) in collaboration with the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola hosted a remote hub in the video conference room of AUN for 5 days. A total of 80 participants attended the event.

As part of the Event, the Provost of AUN gave this speech in regards to Data Governance and Digital inclusion.

 We are delighted and honored to be part of the Internet Governance Forum with this year’s theme as “Data Governance and Digital Inclusion”, hosted in Berlin, Germany in collaboration with the Internet Governance Forum (ICGF), ICANN, ITU, AU, sister Universities, etc.  

I must say, this year’s IGF’s Theme- “Data Governance and Digital Inclusion” is relevant, timely and sets the stage for regions, as nations, continents, especially Africa, revisit their socio-economic agenda’s, socio-economic structural reforms and priorities and redesigning and framing newer pathways to reinvigorate and reposition their economies for competitiveness, sustainable economic growth, with embedded resiliency to dramatic market shocks, poverty and the centrality of digital inclusivity. And, as nations, governments, civil society organizations, private sector, startups, continue to embrace and adopt emerging technologies such as AI, Machine learning, Deep learning, Robotics, Big Data/ Data Science, IoT’s, Blockchains, Bitcoin and Digital Currencies, etc. African countries must ensure it plays significant role and provide her unique context, values, culture and content as inputs to the global internet and data governance and more than ever ensure adequate, sustainable, secure and digital inclusivity for every citizen.

There is no doubt, sustainable growth, productivity and efficiency in the private and public sector is centered on human creativity and innovation and will be enhanced hugely by the responsible and sustainable adoptions and use of these emerging technologies addressing the challenges of Data governance and Inclusion.

I am of the view, this new economies of African countries, which must be created with the quality human capital required to drive it, will mostly come from our divers universities, youths and the emerging start-up and innovation communities and will have its roots in DATA, ICT Innovations and digital platforms and services. 

I submit to you all, our progress towards Creating smart Data Governance and inclusion, will largely depend on a convergence of fresh and innovative ideas, mindset, discipline and commitment, smart and hard work, appropriate and sustainable adoption and use of these emerging technologies and responsible acquisition and sharing of Quality Data. In addition to the drive for excellence and high performance, emerging from a diverse set of rigorous and demanding academic disciplines preparing our youths adequately, embracing data governance and inclusivity along learning experiences, value chains and ecosystems.  This undoubtedly will require adequate investments, substantive collaborations and partnerships, talent and cultural perspectives.

Embracing Data Governance and Digital inclusion early on and along Global value chains   is key to the “ sustainability of the newest economy increasingly driven by digital platforms and services” . When done right, it  will provide the platform enabling broad base wealth creation and an ecosystem that will facilitate efficient productivity and cost innovations, resulting in quality products and services demanded by the regional and global markets.  This “new economy’ will be “The knowledge or Digital Platform Economy” and it will be driven by ICT’s and Innovation and Data. 

This “Knowledge or Digital Platform Economy” will be fuel by not only ideas and knowledge but also with imagination, creativity and different types and forms of innovations.  In this “Digital or Knowledge Economy”, “Data” is the “oil” and will fuel it’s growth and efficiency driven by continuous ICT Innovations! For its Sustainability and broad base and deep impact, Data Governance and Digital Inclusivity in its core is a must!

With these ingredients, this “Digital Platform Economy” will re-position the nations and regions towards an accelerated growth path with a competitive economic base and wealth creation. And, her actors and agents will be increasingly youthful. Further, it will unapologetically demand high quality competencies, capabilities, smarter policy regimes and legislations and adequate Data Governance and Digital inclusivity. in other words, highly skilled labor force to thrive efficiently and sustainably for regional development. 

Thus, I am of the view, that for our countries, especially African countries to succeed in the creation and adoption of digital governance and digital inclusivity, we cannot ignore:

  1. the centrality of a high quality and rigorous regional education system with modern learning infrastructure and newer approaches to teaching and learning and high quality, capable and motivated teachers and learners. And, the incorporation of data and information governance and digital inclusivity as key ingredients of our curriculums and learning engagements.  I therefore, submit to you that, substantive and valuable Data Governance and Digital inclusion will only evolve in regions that have youthful populations with high quality and rigorous education systems and institutions with a constant supply motivated quality graduates with high technical, social competencies plus entrepreneurial drive, passion and enthusiasm!

 

  1.  Creating and developing an ecosystem for ICT innovations will require high quality learning institutions and centers of excellence distributed across the region with strategic competencies in disciplines of the future that will provide graduates populating the region with their creativities, passion and entrepreneurial drives to create startups with ICT innovations.
  2.  An agile ecosystem with smart national and regional information architectures and well designed and thought out Data Information Governance and policy regimes striking a delicate, but robust balance between “Big Data, Cyber and Information Security and Privacy” that will emphasize privacy protection in cybersecurity activities and digital inclusion. 

 

  1. A policy regime that is not rigid but cautious enough not to stifle or slow down creativity or ICT innovations. However, with the increasing significance of Data- Data everywhere!, How do we ensure policy regimes strike a delicate balance between Big Data, Privacy and Cyber Security. How can policy regimes ensure privacy protection in cybersecurity activities? 

Once again, we are thrilled and appreciative to be part of this great and important Forum and I wish for you all fruitful and insightful deliberations and exchanges! 

  • Prof. Muhammadou M.O. Kah

The remote hub was Coordinated by Auwal Alhassan Tata ( Internet Society Nigeria Chapter Secretary-General )

ISOCng wishes to thank AUN management for their immense contribution towards the success of the AUN Yola hub.

 

 

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