To many, the internet is a ‘no man’s land’ with different association exercising varying control over the web space; the United States wielding ultimate control over the cyberspace courtesy of her technological prowess and ‘big-brother’ attitude. But due to high-level pressure amidst claims of espionage surveillance and privacy violations, the U.S has decided to share its ‘power’ with willing and capable nations of the globe. Now, every nation riding on the back of information technology can decide its fate. It’d be a great disservice to any nation on the planet to shy away from the challenges the internet poses. The internet is a wild beast of freedom; and leveler of boundaries, custodian of knowledge and catalyst agent of globalization; and in truth such digital, over-your-head leviathan deserves to be regulated, tamed, domesticated, and cultured for the universal good of humanity. Perhaps, this disposition propelled. Mrs. Mary Uduma, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) to convene the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) in Lagos from 9-10 June 2014; with participants drawn from every sector to have a say through a multistakeholders dialogue in establishing local principles and protocols that would guide the governance of the internet in order to facilitate economic growth in Nigeria. The Forum ended with the resolution that participants should take advantage of the internet to improve, empower and establish themselves and venture by switching to .ng domain name to enable Nigeria control its internet sphere and ‘re-brand’ the world’s perception of the virtual Nigerian and netpreneurs. Issues of privacy, extortive internet access, low broadband penetration, tech skills preparedness, cyber-security and online wealth creation occupied the forum.
Further, our governance of the internet would be more beneficial if we create and produce local contents –’ think local, act global’. The internet gives us access to many knowledge banks and markets; but we must go there not only as consumers but also as producers and sellers. At times, we are tempted to wonder – if our Nigeria-based ‘yahoo-yahoo boys’ could hack, decode and break into ‘systems’ and ‘extract’ money ‘from the air’ then just imagine the creative genius that would be unleashed should they decide to go ‘legit’ in the ecosystem. Jumia, Konga, Irokotv, B.A.U online, and the recent viral app –Ankale Bride Price are few IT services and products that have shown the scalability and profitability of online business in Nigeria. And there’s more coming that could break global brands should we put our house together and encourage innovation and creativity. Let’s not be just ‘buyers and users’ of devices and software; but makers of gadgets and apps – only then will our internet governance bid make sense to the men on the streets.