Monday, March 31, 2014

5 Minutes or 5 hours: the Internet connection will decide.

Image from Adventurous-soul.com

I had a clear plan of what I wanted to achieve in 5 minutes when I got to the bank. I have done this before and I knew how long it takes.

Step 1: Check latest status of local account
Step 2: Flip out a Visa card that is linked to an international account
Step 3: Withdraw a given amount from the international account to feed into the local account
Step 4: Send cash via a money transfer service to someone in an un-banked rural area
Step 5: Send the transaction details of the money transfer to the receiver by SMS
Step 6: Go home.


But this very day, things just did not work out the way they should. There has been a general Internet connectivity low in the city and I did not take that into consideration when I was doing my 5-minutes calculations. As always, I walk into the bank and the first uncomfortable thing was the sight of the many people on the queue. I sensed a problem.

“Madam, we have a problem with the Internet connection. Our systems are slow.”

I told myself, I could use the time that the queue lasts to do one or two things. I keep my place on the queue, and walk over to the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) outside. Step 1 was to find out the status of the local account.

“This service cannot be completed at the moment” the ATM said.

Fine, I told myself. Since I was at the bank, I might as well ask Customer Service to check up on that account.

Madame, even the intra-bank communications are not going”

Step 1 is foiled. I tell myself that I will get to that some time. It is important to proceed to Steps 2 and 3. I get the Visa card out, to be able to pull the cash I needed.

“Your financial Institution is unavailable.”

The message here is that connections between us and other banks are just not working at the moment.

So I am on the queue to send cash that I have not yet withdrawn from an account which is impossible to access! I need a B Plan. The people in the village are waiting for the money. It took me 3 hours to be able to raise the cash needed. And now I realise to what extent my savings and financial life are linked to the Internet!!

It takes another 30 minutes to do the money transfer. “Madam, please be patient, our Internet is slow today”.

Yes. “The Internet is slow today” and I have lost 5 hours of productivity, emotional balance and almost the trust of people who are dear to me.

Affordable, reliable and broadband Internet. Give it to me, and I will gain time, productivity and trust.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

/1Net: What works for me

Paul Wilson of APNIC was the first to take his time to do a blog post on /1Net. He did try to clear what was a kind of spider web in the minds of many. In the few weeks between that post and the end of the year 2013:

  • The call for nominations to /1Net Steering Committee has been taken up by all stakeholder groups and discussions are being fed back into the 1Net main discussion channel
  • The /1Net site has been redesigned to be IPv6 Compliant
  • The original “Coordination” list has gone from closed to open and its name has evolved from coordination to “Discuss.
  • Even in the midst of the different holidays that accompany the last days of every year, discussions are still heavily ongoing in the 1Net discuss list and if any signs, they are certainly going to get more intense when folks “get back from the beach”.

From the onset, I had set myself on “reserve” on the /1Net list, for reasons best known to me. However, I have read almost all the email exchanges, perhaps, except those that are on the IPv6 thread.  After the 1000 or so emails, here is what is rocking for me about /1Net at the moment:

First and foremost, the singular opportunity to have most stakeholders on one platform. In my 11 years of WSIS prepcoms, WSIS 1, WSIS 2, IGFs, ICANN and IG-related engagements, this is the ONLY time I have had one platform where I get an insight to the workings of the IG Business Community.

The second thing is the apparent “ease” with which the Civil Society transcended the nomination process of members to the 1Net steering committee. In so many years, I have come to believe that Civil Society is that stakeholder group that achieves the least consensus among itself. As a Civil Society actor, I have come to accept this “fallacy”, hook, line and sinker. /1Net has given me the opportunity to do a turn-around on that. This time around, the CS organized itself within the deadline, in a more or less efficient manner, whereas other stakeholder groups were needing more time to get things sorted.

The other great thing about /1Net for me is the quality of the issues raised. Most importantly, on transparency of representational networks. I have seen the likes of  BASIS, GIGANET, Best Bits, Diplo and IGC questioned from all angles. To varying levels questions have received their answers, at least, for those who are seeking information, collaboration and progress.

I have also seen pro-active engagement in circles that have not had the Internet Governance question as a centre-point of activity. This is the case of the Community Informatics network and the AFREN group. Individuals have been pivotal in piloting these initiatives and I’m really happy to see such engagement from the research and academia stakeholder group, a group, which I believe, have not had enough  platform allowance to bring its issues to the fore in the IG journey. 

Then there is the Africa representation question. Again? Yes, again! The debate is back. Are folks from Africa participating enough? Are they being represented? Do they volunteer for tasks?  Do they feel/think ably represented by anyone from the “Global South”?  After these initial talks, will Africans take  the issues “home” and take them up from there?  I’m keeping my eyes open.

/1Net’s positioning of itself in Brazil 2014 has been fast and furious. In only 2 months, the “Network” or "Coalition"  has set itself as a major partner in the Brazil International Conference on Global Internet Governance …. And beyond that, even future IG framework. Impressive! It is a space that needs to be watched..

As some still “observe” how things roll out with /1Net, I can only look forward to what 2014 will be from the /1Net lenses. But between now and then… some things already have happened for me..
Happy New Year!
 
PS/
Are the Acronyms and abbreviations  confusing?
1Net is the global coalition on the Internet. 1Net.org has info. APNIC is the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center. IPv6 is Internet Protocol Version 6. WSIS is the World Summit on the Information Society. PrepCom is Preparatory Committee (of the WSIS).  IGF is the Internet Governance Forum. www.intgovforum.org  has all the info. ICANN is the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.  IG is Internet Governance. BASIS is the Business Action to Support the Information Society. GiGANET is the Global Internet Governance Academic Network. Best Bits is a platform for Civil Society actions around Internet issues. www.bestbits.net has info. Diplo is the short form of The Diplo Foundation. www.diplomacy.edu has info. IGC is the Internet Governance Caucus of some civil society and other organisations. AFREN is the Africa Regional Education Network

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Internet Governance Forum opening ceremony speech

Nusa Dua Bali Convention Center – NDBCC
Bali, Indonesia
Official Opening session
[On behalf of Civil Society Stakeholders]
Address by Ms Nnenna Nwakanma
Africa Regional Coordinator
Volunteer organiser, Africa IGF
Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening

My name is Nnenna Nwakanma. I am of Nigerian origin, living in Côte d'Ivoire. I love football and the Internet has made me a global citizen. I am part of the group steering the Best Bits platform of Civil Society Organisations in the IGF. I work for the World Wide Web Foundation as Africa Regional Coordinator.

The World Wide Web Foundation was established by Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee to strengthen and defend the open Web as a global public good and a basic right.

We work with others to make the web truly universal, open and free, through initiatives like the Alliance for Affordable Internet to bring down the cost of access, and the Web Index tracking the health and utility of the Web in over 80 countries.

We also put the open web to work to strengthen democracy and participation, especially by harnessing the power of open data.

And that is the reason we are here. To engage as Civil Society, to remind us of the key principles we agreed and signed up to.

The first is Human rights. We seem to be moving farther from it as we move further on the Internet Governance process. Human rights need to make a come back, and be kept at center stage.

The second is multistakeholder participation in an open, accountable and transparent manner at all levels. It is not clear how we have been collectively doing and it might be the right time to start measuring the adoption, the impact and the promises made in this domain.

The third is our development agenda. We must never lose focus that our collective effort in the Internet governance process is aimed at making the Internet a tool for poverty reduction, for health delivery for education at all levels, for the economic well-being of our world.

We must continue to extend the « Internet of opportunities »
Opportunities for indigenous people ;
Opportunities for illiterate and nomadic persons
Opportunities for rural dwellers
Opportunities for landlocked countries
Opportunities for Island states
And opportunities for countries made up of islands, like Indonesia.

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen

  • A basic broadband plan costs the average African almost ⅔ of their monthly income.
  • In the world’s 49 poorest countries, only 1 in 10 people has access to the Internet.
  • 25 Netizens and citizen journalists were killed and 157 netizens were imprisoned last year.
  • Since May 2012 alone 24 countries have passed new laws or regulations that could restrict free speech online, violate users’ privacy, or punish individuals who post certain types of content

This, therefore, is an urgent call to action.

  • A call to action for greater and enhanced cooperation of all stakeholders
  • A call to action for an affordable Internet for everyone, everywhere
  • A call for action in favour of accessibility, to make the Internet real for persons with disabilities
  • A call for action for a more efficient Internet Governance process at national levels, because that is where « home » is
  • A call for action in mainstreaming gender equity, youth engagement and remote participation at all levels of Internet Governance process.
  • To continue to enhance the capacity of the Internet as a tool for safeguarding social justice, equity, diversity, and multilingualism.


Excellencies
Ladies and gentlemen

The growing threat of unwarranted government surveillance across the globe deserves our attention. The current trend to justify rash and poorly considered expansion of state surveillance in the name of protecting us must be rejected. Humanity needs the Internet to be and remain, neutral, open, universal and free.

In closing my address, as we meet this year under the theme of Building bridges, enhancing multistakeholder cooperation for growth and sustainable development

It is important to salute the individuals who build bridges daily in the IGF journey :

  • People like Sir Tim Berners-lee, the inventors
  • People in the policy circles grappling with the new reality called the Internet
  • Nations like Brazil, that are actively seeking for innovative ways to make the process more participative and inclusive
  • People in the technical community, who make sure the Internet works
  • Organisers, volunteers and conveners of local, national, sub-regional, regional and Global IG discussions, instances and forums 

    Organisersations that are commited to the affordability of the Internet, like the council and members og the Alliance for Affodable Internet.
  • Organisations, like NRO and platforms that fund the IGF, especially Civil Society participation
  • To the people and governments who have hosted us, at all levels for these past years..

To the awesome people of Bali, the people and government of Indonesia.

To you, for listening,

Thank you.

Merci

Shukran

Terima kasih




Nnenna Nwakanma.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Road to FIFA World Cup [Brasil 2014]: My take on the Africa Top 10


As African soccer teams enter the final round of the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil,  I'm taking a quick look at the ten teams. By the way, Southern Africa is not just absent from the tournament, but also absent from the top 10.  But that is a matter for another time:

Algeria: Humm, Fennec? I am not sure.  What I know about this team is that they are keen on winning without having to do the work: sort of "by hook or crook".  Great football nation with some of Africa's greatest fans. But it does appear that they bring out their game when they play neighbouring countries..  If they make it to the final 5, how far can they go?  How well can they play?

Burkina Faso: I want the Stallions in. Bancé needs to scare some people on a global level.. They have the fastest growing  fan base in Africa. The President is a huge fan too and does not hide it. They did so well in the last African Cup of Nations and as Vice-Champions, I just wish for them to have greater opportunities to taste the world cup.  They have never been there.. and it will be HUGE if they make it to Brasil.

Cameroon:  Are the teeth that have been lost grown back? Eto'o has announced he is done with the team. Have the leadership issues been sorted?  I think there is something wrong with the Indomitable Lions and that needs to be sorted out first. Otherwise, they may end up in Brasil and be the  "scandal team", like France was in South Africa 2010. I still have my cherished dreams from the Roger Milla days, when we danced Makossa.. and Cameroon used to bring shivers.. but those days are gone.

Cape Verde: Oh please!! This is one team that should go to Brasil.  The team is young, the coach looks like a basketball player, and the players have vibes, style and swag.  The Blue Sharks gave us so much thrills in their African Cup of Nations outing that I just want them in Brasil.. to heat up the game!

Côte d'Ivoire: Humm. What can I say? The elephants are in a sort of "end of generation". Their qualification is most probable. Didier Drogba needs to be in Brasil. We need soccer artistes.. people who do "zouglou" and "couper-decaler" with football.  It does not seem that the level of the elephants has gone up since they played finals agains Egypt.. but hey! The expression that summarises my feelings is what they say in Côte d'Ivoire "L'éléphant, c'est un animal qui trompe". It says the elephant is an animal that "trompe", a word which means "trumpet" and "deceive" at the same time. Yes, the elephant trumpets: make a hell of a noise, gathers dust, scares adversaries.. but does not satisfy at the final run. Something akin to what someone said about the Holland team: a bra with lots of support and no cup!!

Egypt: Mega Africa Champion. Over and over again.  But does not bite "outside of the house". I dont know why.  Things have not been the same since the departure of Shehata. But it appears the team is re-consolidating. Will Brasil make or mar the Pharaoes? I cannot say.

Ethiopia: The team is still learning.  But is that positive or negative? Actually I dont know much about the team, but the only reason Ethiopia needs to go to the World Cup, for me, will be to show off the beauties!! Those Ethiopian girls rock. It will be good to have some awesomely beautiful Ethiopians give a run to the  Brasilian ladies for their beauty.

Ghana: These days, Black Stars seem to be stuck in a third-place kind of situation. I dont know how this will play out.. but if Ghana can place 3rd in Brasil.. then that will be HUGE. Plus, Asamoa Gyan needs to clear that missed penalty in a "world cup match".  So I am in favour of Ghana making the list.

Nigeria: Okay, being African champions is not enough. I was fairly disappointed at the Confederation Cup outing of the Eagles. But I will say Keshi deserves to be in Brasil. He has worked for it.

Senegal: These Lions give me the yikes. I'm not sure of them on the discipline end. Soccer is not just the game, but if you are going to Brasil as an African team, you need to represent  the continent well. I'm not sure here.


Whichever way the last round goes, we will support all 5 African teams..

We will go to Brasil.

We will come with the vuvzelas

And we will dance to the African beats..

Go teams!

Go Africa!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Of Election Petitions, Ghana, Africa and democracy: #TheVerdict

I woke up yesterday,  Thursday the 29th of August 2013, very expectant. The 9-judge Supreme Court of Ghana was going to give the verdict of the case that opposed the New Patriotic Party of Ghana and the National Democratic Convention of Ghana.  NPP had petitioned the court, alleging the following:

1. Overvoting
2. Voting without biometric verification
3. Absence of signature
4. Duplicate pink sheets
5. Duplicate Polling Stations
6. Unknown polling stations

For 8 months, the legal battle had gone on and August 29th was the "today na today" day for the whole of Ghana. On Social Media, #ElectionPetition, which has been the tag all along, was joined by #TheVerdict.

Facebook, but mostly, Twitter, went crazy. The tweets were arriving in droves. For my part, I was tracking them like my life depended on them.  I followed the stories.  Here they are:

The Ghana-man story:
As for Ghana-man, paaaa, he took the matter "personally". There were calls for peace. Everyone reminded everyone of the importance of Ghana. Nobody wanted anybody to be a refugee. And Yes, Ghanaians foresaw that #TheVerdict may be followed by confusion, disturbance and even war. But s/he did not want to be the one to start it. So stay off the street, stay at home. Almost everyone did. Result? An un-announced holiday. No, it was "better than that", you could go from Spintex to Kaneshie in a matter of minutes!!  Even Accra Mall, of all places, was deserted. The term was "Judgement Day" for many.

The Police story:
Eh! Ghana Police! They brought out all the arsenal (add United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and all the Premier League teams if you want to). No, Seriously, I did not know that Ghana Police was capable of such mobilization. Every city had police presence. Accra had police on land, on water, and even in the sky above our heads.  Chale!! Guys were ready oo!!!  Did they also go underground? Just asking..

The Ghana Media Story:
This might perhaps be the best story. GTV  and GBC, the official national broadcasting services were ordered by law to give live coverage. Every media house that had a transmitter put it to work.  I think the Gold Medal goes to the JOY group. They were all over and all online. Ghanaians were given the opportunity to air their views. Anybody who had anything to say had a place to say it. Simply phenomenal!

The Social Media Story:
Oh là là, Ghana Tweeps nailed it. They took pictures, they reported. They tweeted, retweeted, shared, and kept the hype. While we waited for the judges to give #TheVerdict, we even got to the point of asking people to share what they were doing while waiting.. It will be interesting to see a MashUp of the tweets on both tags: #ElectionPetition and #TheVerdict.

The Nana Akufo-Addo Story:
I bet Nana did not sleep the night before!  The team was up very early in the morning. They had prayers and even a group photo. My take is that Nana raised the whole thing one notch higher.  He arrived in court himself.

The John Dramani Mahama Story:
I dont think he worked the whole day. Maybe that should be taken away from his salary on  pro-rata. But hey, how many Ghanaians did anything else but watch TV, wait  for #TheVerdict, hear it, then discuss it? He dressed up in white, himself and the Vice-President. And waited, and waited, and waited, and waited... for the judges and their decision ... just like any other Ghana-man.

The Atuguba Story:
Your Honour, you made us wait oo! Our hearts nearly disappeared from our chests. Eight  months, over 24 million persons, investments put on hold, police mobilisation, almost 2 million dollars in live coverage, even a quasi national 'Atuguba' holiday.. Anyway, he arrived, finally, with the 8 others. To give a verdict that lasted for about 1/3rd of a minute:

“The first respondent was validly elected and the suit is dismissed”
 

Asa! Chikena! C'est fini!  That is #THEVERDICT.  Only then did we exhale.. and actually noticed that we were literally holding our breaths!! I tweet:
Okay, so now what? What is New Patriotic Party saying?.  It did not take long:
And Nana Akufo-Addo himself?  It also followed suit:
And all eyes turn to President Mahama's Twitter account.  He, too, does not waste time:
And now, I can finally get up and go have breakfast! Yes, breakfast at lunch time.


The STORY of the stories :
That was the story. But what IS the THE STORY.  The STORY of the stories?  That is the most important aspect of this post. What I have taken with me. It is a simple and straight one. Ghana's democracy has indeed matured. You may not have noticed it but:
  1. The Ghana-man story is the story of citizens who have realised that their country is all they have and it is their duty to keep it safe and peaceful. It is the story of citizens' Ubuntu. I am because we are. God Bless Ghanaians.
  2. The Police Story is the story of a force that is living by its creed, is ready to do its work and is up and alert. God Bless Ghana Police.
  3. The Ghana Media story is the story of inclusion, of freedom of information, of the right to expression, of citizen mobilisation,  of the freedom of speech. Ghana Media will  live long.
  4. The Social Media story is the story of  what the Internet can do as a development tool. Its power to crowdsource information. The mobile, immediate, global, multi-lingual, cross-cultural and unifying power of the web; simply priceless. We have become "Homo Numéris"
  5. The Nana Akufo-Addo  story is the story of an opposition that has decided to be democratic. To pursue differences at the appropriate places, in the manner set out by law, using legal and legitimate means. Nana, Ghana owes you.
  6. The John Dramani Mahama story is the story of a sitting president goes ordinary. Wake and go to work. For the 29th of August 2013, wake up, dress up, pretend you were ready to work, watch TV, spend time talking to friends and family on phone, but most importantly wait. Wait, wait, wait and wait... for the Supreme Court to decide, just like every other Ghana-man. JDM, Ghana will remember your calm, your self control and your humility
  7. The Atuguba (or Supreme Court) story is the story of a judiciary system that has come of age. A supreme court that reads the law, interprets it, and makes decisions based on the reading and interpretation of that law, without fear or favour. Your Honours, we waited for long, we lost some business during the wait, but it is well. You have spoken, and we shall go with you. Lead on!
Viva Ghana!