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So last weekend, I was in Abuja where I got to hang out with Nigeria’s biggest ICT policy wonks. Met some great people too. Fun fun, work work.

The occasion was the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria convened Internet Freedom Forum. Now that it’s become obvious that the government is really serious about monitoring and inevitably censoring Nigerian cyberspace, this is not a conversation that can be postponed. This article by me, shortly after the Elbit surveillance contract scandal broke and this one by Joachim MacEbong in the wake of the PRISM/Snowden debacle are instructive and should lend context to the issue.

In the meantime, the purpose and eventual outcome of the forum was the creation of a draft charter for internet freedom in Nigeria. I expect that it will be released to the public soon so it can undergo a number of iterative feedback processes.

I’ve been speaking with Gbenga Sesan, executive director of PIN (and with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with in this regard), and we’re working towards getting awareness of ICT policy into mainstream technology media.

What’s policy got to do with it? Everything. Technology is not just about gadgets and gizmos, you know. There are plenty of policy underpinnings that make the wheels turn. Like it or not, the mobile boom, ignited in the early 2000s, that led to a lot of the what Nigeria is proud to call a quantum leap in ICT was a single epiphanic moment of policy gone right. But after deregulating the telecoms sector, what’s next? What about broadband? Regulatory frameworks for online commerce and cybercrime, internet freedom and rights, intermediate liability, economic and corporate considerations that affect startups and technology business, and more?

Acquiring a working understanding of these things and how they affect our tech ecosystem is the least one can do, if one is really serious about playing in this space. So coming very soon — a policy hub that caters to that need on TechCabal.

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz via Compfight cc

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Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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