As a frontend developer and an ex-Google Developer student club lead, at Rivers State University, I was thrilled when I was chosen as an African Youth volunteer for the 17th Global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2022.
I got selected as one of the 80 African youths from the five African regions to support various services at the 17th IGF 2022 held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The application was quite an easy process which made the entire experience cool enough.
Attending Global IGF 2022 was a great experience, I enjoyed every part of it, ranging from the experience with the volunteers’ coordinators, my fellow volunteers, my unit members, and in fact the entire event.
I was also opportune to network with great minds discussing various aspects of internet governance with my major interest in the topic “An internet that empowers all women”. This session brought the private sector, the international development community and civil society to discuss the unique challenges that women face in accessing the internet and things that can be done to bridge the digital gender divide.
The paradoxical relationship between mobile technology, well-being and women’s safety was also explored: on one hand, mobile phones and the internet can make women feel safer and are associated with improved well-being, but on the other, the internet can also be a conduit for risks that act as a barrier to women’s internet access and usage. These concerns were addressed to ensure the internet works for all.
These exposures expanded my knowledge and skill set.
The selected volunteers were assigned coordinators such as Fifi Selby Abraham from Ghana, Sorene from South Africa and Betty Tesfaye from Ethiopia.
I had a very nice experience with the coordinators I must commend their patience, commitment and diligence in attending to and ensuring every volunteer were up to track with the different preparation stages required.
One of the high moments was meeting and networking with the other volunteers from across Africa, the cultural differences and language barriers were fascinating indeed, but I guess it’s one of those learning curves we turn out to appreciate as I was able to overcome the barrier, made friends and leveraged on the challenges as an avenue to get to know and understand the cultural differences.
The IGF 2022 was in all shades a fantastic event, there were several sessions held daily. The 17th IGF under the overarching theme “Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future” was held from 28th November to 2nd December. It was aimed at accommodating the participation of stakeholders present on-site in Addis Ababa or participating online in an equitable manner.
The hybrid approach also extended to session organizing teams. The objective was to make participation in IGF 2022 inclusive for all participants.
The Internet Governance Forum serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet. The IGF also informs and inspires those with policy-making powers to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach.
Working in my unit with my team members as web-casters, we were involved in quality assurance, and documentation of the live-streaming for each meeting room and session, ensuring that the videos and sounds were flawless and good enough for our online participants.
We were also responsible for uploading the videos from various sessions to the IGF YouTube channel at the completion of each session. This was to ensure the availability of the videos for futuristic use and so they can be referred to when needed.
All work no play makes delegates dull participants, to that effect, there were social events such as music nights and dinner receptions with lots of fun inclusive to keep the mind engaged and balanced.
I must say IGF ‘22 was all shades of a fascinating experience for me.