Friday, August 5, 2011

Third world networkers thoughts on internet governance

So I got an invite to participate in this years IGF.I heard of the IGF last year and going by the amount of heckling, noise and politics that goes with governance especially when Kenyans get in the mix, I was not really interested. After going through previous sessions just to know what I am getting into, I was wrong on that assesment. Completely wrong.

This year it will be held in Kenya, at the UN headquarters Gigiri, this year I might just get a chance to steer debate, a chance to actually make a mark and interact with policy makers from all over the world, a chance to speak again, this is a good year.

Since an IGF is attended by a very diverse group of stakeholders, from different countries, you can expect alot of learning to happen.

So what is internet governance:
According to the Tunis  agenda:  Internet  governance is  “the  development  and
application  by  governments,  the  private  sector  and  civil  society,  in  their  respective
roles,  of  shared  principles,  norms,  rules,  decision-making  procedures,  and
programmes  that shape  the evolution and use of  the  Internet.”
(Paragraph 34, Tunis Agenda).

This year will focus alot on mobile devices and there is an IPv6 agenda. Thats probably where you'll find me making the most noise. I however am lucky in a very random aspect: I work at Safaricom and have access to data and people that analyze it. I see first hand the effect of our product in the market.

Imagine raising more than 120Million shillings for the hunger striken from several Million subscribers selflesly giving (MPESA,shortcodes, tshirts), imagine how much the internet has penetrated society just by use of cheap mobile handsets, imagine mobilizing community/county development using these devices.

At the rate we're going, we as a community can for instance vote using the internet, using our handsets, using sms for what development we want to see, we can then partner with local councils and actually use the same medium to raise money (shortcodes, mpesa etc)....

on IPv6 I have ideas on how this is likely to change things, make it more effective to use the internet, break application barriers that IPv4 imposes on application writers. Since the management of critical Internet resources is at the core of these discussions, IP obviously comes top on the list of things to be discussed. Is electricity a critical internet resource?

The internet operates in a global  space  without  a  formal  constitution  and  established  procedures, changes in the governance arrangements or the introduction of new resources almost always require experiments. Today we have had successful experiments (arpanet), silicon valley. With this in mind each  new  task  in  the  area  of  critical  Internet  resources  turns  out  to  be pioneering work with uncertain outcomes.

On IPv6, I believe the way forward is to just get on with it; all of us together. The teachers should teach it, networks should provide it to users, policy makers should ensure IPv6 is embeded in their decision making. We all need to jump together then deal with the issues as they come along. Thats how the internet grew, thats how we should move it forward.

So why is why is  the  uptake  of  IPv6  is  so  slow  and  what  are  the obstacles  that  prevent  vendors  and  operators  from  offering  IPv6? I work for an operator, I work with vendors. Apart from ignorance, the other obstacle as far as I can tell is fear.I think one of the things I hope to bring in is that:
- IPv6 works, the transition can be painless - I have some experience with this and don't mind working with whoever requires the know how.

Tunis agenda

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