The term internet governance processes refers to the development and application of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the internet. And why does this matter?
Let’s take some steps back.
The world has been moving at a rapid pace from its first industrial revolution which was the transition from hand production methods to machines through the use of steam power and waterpower way back in the 1700s.
About 320 years from the first industrial revolution, to the second and the third, we are now in the fourth industrial revolution or better known as the 4IR which has to do with the internet of things better known as (IoT), Machine to Machine (M2M) communication as well as the production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need of human interventions. The same revolution has also come along with digitization and the other component around that evolution.
The internet continues to be a powerful tool in all spheres, from communication to solving life challenging issues as well as other issues. One would instantly book a plane ticket in the comfort of their home without the need to go to an airline agent. One does not need to stand in a bank line to send money as they can do that in the comfort of their places via electronic transfer.
The millennial of whom approximately nine out of 10 of them have smart devices, and about 90% of what they use on that device has to do with internet either by being on social media, sending emails or even a simple WhatsApp text which has almost replaced the normal SMS.
In as much as this development is vital and important, it is evident that fewer youth are involvement in the internet processes and governance, which is very vital in shaping the future of the internet. There is more to internet than just being on social media or stressing about the poor internet connectivity. The different internet governance processes consist of different multi stakeholders from government, CSO, academia, business sectors and end users. With that said, the internet also has different components which shape it, such as the aspects of policy and technical part of the internet which are vital components on how we use and access the internet.
As young generations, current and future leaders, young people need to step into the internet governance processes and contribute to the current and future development of the internet. This is the only way for our voices to be heard. We need to continue equipping ourselves in this space through online courses, fellowship programmes, stakeholder’s consultations as well as research initiatives; which are easily accessible through the internet that we use on a daily basis.
Initiatives and platforms such the national ICT summit, Namibia Internet Governance Forum, Africa Internet Governance Forum as well as the Global Internet Governance Forum are there for us as young people to tap into and use those avenues in getting our voices heard. There is a need to analyse on what we use our internet for and how that helps us to develop ourselves or contribute to pressing issues in our country that requires our interventions. In this fast pace development of the internet, there is a higher need for young people to move from just being end users of the internet into contributing and spearheading the future of the internet.
It is through this mitigation that we as young people can address issues of revenge porn, cybercrime, online violence, data protection, media literacy and so forth, through contributing to setting up policies and recommendations that will help to make the internet a safe space for not just us but everyone.
The government can do as much as they can, the same applies to industry players, academia CSOs and so forth, but the real power is in the hands of the young people who can bring innovation, a different angle and views to this current issues, and that can only be possible through decision making processes and governance of the internet.