Capital and economic empowerment

By Mutwiri Mutuota

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 29- One of the revolving assertions in the ongoing 6th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi is the linkage between information technology and business.

In many sittings at the IGF, making capital and economic empowerment for businesses and ordinary people has resonated across the plenary as stakeholders in IT and commerce seek the way forward.

In one of the sessions, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organisation delivered its message to the IGF where it spelt out its measures aimed at accelerating the realisation of the global tech and economic development agenda.

Under its Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative, ICC stated its continued commitment to supporting the IGF.

“The strength of the multi-stakeholder IGF model is that it brings together governments, business, the internet technical community, civil society and international and inter-governmental representatives with all participants in equal footing,” the report presented to the 2011 IGF emphasised.

It called on governments to be fully incorporated in the information development strategy formulation for rapid realisation of the stated goals.

“Engaging governments from around the world in Internet policy discussions is essential to ensure informed policymaking and decisions by stakeholders.”

On national and regional IGF initiatives, the ICC said, “Business applauds the growing number of national and regional initiatives that have characterised the IGF. These initiatives give national and regional stakeholders the opportunity to discuss internet governance issues from national and regional perspectives.”

The report underscored the benefits of the implementation of sound IGF policies on development and business contributions.

“Effective internet related policies from both supply and demand perspectives improve economic recovery and growth as evidenced by the many national stimulus packages that include Internet and initiatives linked to ICTs.”

It cited from the McKinsey & Company estimates that a ten percent in broadband household penetration delivers a boost to the country’s GDP that ranges from 0.1 to 1.4 percent as well as the Booz & Company findings that ten percent higher broadband penetration in a specific year correlates to a 1.5 percent greater labour productivity growth in the next five years to illustrate the assertion.

“An environment that enables the development of new business models is the way to attract investment, promote innovation, build necessary infrastructures to cope with the booming data traffic and bring the benefits of the next billion internet users,” ICC intoned.

The chamber however, urged policy makers to ensure the Internet growth is not checked by state or any other intervention.

“Business strongly agrees that the growth and stability of the international Internet backbone infrastructure is best served when Internet interconnection agreements are left to competition forces.

“In fact, business encourages the promotion of the open and interconnected nature of the internet as it fosters industries and new business models.”

And in living up to one of the major concerns of the 6th IGF, that of cyber security, ICC threw its weight behind efforts geared towards ensuring Internet consumers are protected from elements keen on criminalising the web.

“Business considers it crucial for lawful intercept laws and regulations to be clear and for associated regulatory processes to be transparent in order to avoid uncertain lawful intercept obligations to be a deterrent to Communication Service Providers seeking to innovate, enter or remain in new markets.”

On mobile internet services, the Chamber prescribed, “Governments and regulators should adequately plan for the expanding demand for mobile broadband data to ensure that sufficient spectrum is available to support the increasing demands.”

ICC offered its backing for the Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) saying they would foster an inclusive, democratic, legitimate, respectful and locally empowering Information Society.

On the forthcoming switch from IPv4 to IPv6 with the two internet protocol systems planned to co-exist for a few years, the business organisation called for government support for the adaptation stating;

“The integration of IPv6 does not have a hard deadline like the system changes as Y2K did, but it is essential to prioritise its deployment to ensure that it occurs on time and inter-working with IPv4 to be accommodated.”

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