This morning, I decided to stop by the Ghana Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at the Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT. It is a local stakeholder forum to discuss issues for Internet governance and it were to start with a session on youth and Internet governance. As one of the panelists was running late, I was called upon to talk. I quickly decided to focus on two issues that I feel are important and inter-related:
- Access to Internet in Ghana – currently only 18% of Ghanaians have access to the net, the bulk of this group on their phones. Internet access is expensive and limited to urban areas. For youth to gain access in their numbers this has to change.
- Production of local content – at the moment, Ghanaians consume the Internet rather than create it. We need to write more articles, upload more photos and videos. Blogging could be one way. How can youth be encouraged to create local content? (here I returned to the issue of affordable access)
With me on the podium was GhanaBlogging members Gameli, Amma and Mac-Jordan along with moderator Godfred Ahuma, coordinator of the Ghana IGF. The discussion was interesting and involved government agencies and their (non-) usage of social media, Sakawa or Internet fraud, Twitter vs. tv-news, if you have a right to be forgotten online/managing your online presence and what we want from the service providers (Philip Sowah of Airtel Ghana was listening when I listed 1) SMS to Twitter, 2) higher speed Internet and 3) cheaper access for a larger customer base).
I left the program early, party because no Internet access was provided in the venue(!), so missed out on deliberations on Internet governance for development and importantly affordable access and diversity.
You can follow the proceedings on Twitter, #GhIGF. Hopefully pictures will come soon.
Update: Read a report from one of the other panelists at Gameli’s World. Photo credit to the same source!