MASERU – A collaboration between the government’s communications, science and technology ministry and the Internet Society Lesotho-Chapter has seen the hosting of the country’s first School of Internet Governance (LesSIG) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Maseru.
IGF and School of Internet Governance (SIG) was broken down into multiple consecutive events, with IGF following SIG, which was a four-day workshop introducing and familiarising newcomers to the concepts of IGF so that they are able to participate effectively on the IGF.
LesSIG was an introductory course covering technical, legal, and contemporary social issues brought about by the internet, and the IGF served to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet.
“I am convinced that this forum will coordinate and streamline the process at national level while improving synergies and feedback between countries. “It will also capacitate internet stakeholders on internet Governance (IG) matters. I hear that other African countries have already established this forum and we do not want to be left behind,” said ’Mabataung Khalane, acting Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Communications.
She continued: “If internet governance of property is implemented, it will improve the quality of decisions made by policymakers on internet governance issues which would eventually lead to socio-economic development of the country.”
For the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), acting CEO Nizaam Goolan said it is very encouraging that while they engage in IGF, the country is in the process of formulating regulations and laws that govern the cyberspace and the use of the Internet, the Computer Crime and Cyber Security Bill of 2021.
The SIG has presented us with an opportunity to have citizens that can actively engage the community at large in our outreach efforts to educate internet users of their responsibilities in cyberspace, Goolan said.
He continued that this has also produced a new brand of scholars who can participate in the formulation and implementation of such laws for the benefit of every Mosotho involved and that he has learned that the selection criteria for the students encompassed the majority of the community groups.
“To our local partners, I wish to express my gratitude for their efforts, and hope they keep up the good work so that the spirit that reigned during these past four days could live on for generations to come as we pave way for ‘the Lesotho we want.’
“This is only the beginning and I hope we can all work together to continue this wonderful initiative. I also implore our international partners to continue their support in this endeavour so that we capacitate more people and reach other districts with the same energy and passion.
“Finally, to the students of SIG, I hope you use the knowledge and skills obtained from the training to advance Internet Governance in Lesotho,” he said.
While there is no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors. At their annual meeting, delegates discuss, exchange information, and share good practices with each other.
The IGF facilitates a common understanding of how to maximise Internet opportunities and address risks and challenges that arise.
While internet connectivity generated innovative new services, capabilities and unprecedented forms of sharing and co-operation, it also poses new forms of crime, abuse, surveillance, and social conflicts.
Internet governance is the process whereby cyberspace participants resolve conflicts over these problems and develop a workable order.
LesSIG and IGF aim to raise awareness, build capacity and promote a better understanding of internet governance related matters among stakeholders in their respective communities.
They are facilitating multi-stakeholder discussion and exchange of ideas and opinions, while also seeking to foster multi-stakeholder collaboration among the stakeholders from their respective communities.
They bring perspectives of respective communities to the global IGF agenda and reflect on the perspectives of the global IGF into the NRIs events, where and when relevant and needed.
Internet Society Lesotho-Chapter started operations in 2019, and since then they have managed to host a webinar on “Fake News, Misinformation, Disinformation,” which was intended to create awareness to the public on the dangers of fake news, and misinformation, especially in this period of the pandemic, the harm it may cause and what the law says about it.
They further looked into awareness on child safety online, using video clips and cartoons to teach children the Do’s and the Don’ts online, and when to contact adults for guidance.
They have also submitted comments on the SIM and Device Registration Regulations of 2020; an outreach educational tour to Moyeni High School in Quthing, taught teenagers on the safe use of the internet, its benefits and what they should be aware of.