Read the latest from the Web Foundation

News and Blogs

Nnenna Nwakanma delivers keynote speech at opening ceremony of NETmundial

Alice Samson · April 23, 2014

The World Wide Web Foundation’s Nnenna Nwakanma has today delivered a keynote speech at the NETmundial conference on the future of Internet governance in Sao Paulo, after being selected to represent civil society.

Addressing the live audience and the remote participants around the world, Nnenna spoke alongside the World Wide Web Foundation’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee, H.E. Dilma Rouseff – the President of Brazil, Vint Cerf and Wu Hongbo, the UN Under-Secretary-General.

In case you missed the speech you can read it below


Address by Nnenna Nwakanma. Africa Regional Coordinator of the World Wide Web Foundation, representing Civil Society, Worldwide.

Your Excellencies, Colleagues, present and remote, Ladies and gentlemen

Bon dia!!

My name is Nnenna. I come from the Internet. I also come from diverse civil society teams and networks. My first is the team at the World Wide Web Foundation. At the Web Foundation, we are engaged in the Alliance for Affordable Internet, in the Web We Want Campaign, in the Web Index and in Open Government data. I work to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely.  That is what I do for a living.

I also belong to the Best Bits Civil Society platform, the Internet Governance Caucus for 12 years and the Africa Internet Governance Forum.  For me, Netmundial, in convening us to take a critical look at the principles and the roadmap for the future of Internet Governance, avails us with an opportunity to bring key issues to fore

The first is Access

As much as two-thirds of the world’s population is not connected to the Internet. The penetration rates in less developed countries average around 31%. In the African continent, this figure drops to 16%. In the world’s 49 least developed countries, over 90% of people are not online.  We have one billion people living with disability.  80% live in developing countries.  Each one deserves access: to information, to libraries, to knowledge, to affordable Internet.

The second is Social and economic justice

The Internet is fast becoming the dominant means for wealth creation. The “Right to Development” needs to include social justice.  It is not enough to do a superficial “capacity building” for a few persons.  We are looking at a mechanism that allows for the highest number of persons to be included, the largest number of voices to be heard,  the widest  extent of talents to access innovation, and the deepest creativity of the human minds to flourish. For these, we need to start considering the Internet as public commons.

The third is freedom and human rights

I invite you to listen to someone for whom I have great respect. She was speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on the 24th of September 2013.

“Do you want to hear it? “I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals. In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy.” And that, was Dilma Rousseff

Excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen, in charting a way forward for Internet Governance we must lend serious consideration to at least 3 issues:

The first is participation:  We kicked off with a basic understanding that all stakeholders have a place, a role, and a contribution. As we move further along, the multistakeholder approach is becoming muddled and is losing its meaning. It is time was came back to the drawing board. If we need to revisit the notion, or upgrade it, please let us do it.

We need to engage all stakeholders at the global, regional and national levels.

We need to establish respect and value for stakeholder  contributions.

We need to enable meaningful participation from developing countries and under-represented groups.

The second is resources: How do we ensure that resources are mobilized and maintained for a viable Internet Governance mechanism? The question is not just at the global level, but also at regional and national levels. Whose resources are we going to commit? My leaning is that the Internet should be able to provide resources for its own governance.  Maybe, part of the domain name fees could be reinvested here.

The third is change: NETMundial is offering us a chance at change.  Let us seize it:

From one stakeholder hijacking the process – to an open and inclusive process

From top officials issuing orders – to a collaboration

From summary reports – to transparency

From power – to accountability

From monologues – to dialogues and debates

Change the rhetoric of cyberwar – to the notion of Internet for peace

Change from cyber threats – to digital solidarity

And these, I believe, will guide us in the IANA transition.

Ladies and gentleman, if there is one message I must leave with you today, it is the message of trust.  We are in Brazil because we have a level of trust in the person of President Dilma Rousseff. We trust the Netmundial process. We trust the multistakeholder approach of Brazil in its IGF. We have followed the drive for Marco Civil and  we congratulate  the whole of the people of Brazil.

The trust we have in Brazil is needed at all levels for the future of the Internet. This trust is being destroyed by the collection, processing and interception of our communications. Surveillance undermines Internet security and trust in all personal, business and diplomatic communications. That is why we say: “No to surveillance.

The Web we can trust, that is the Web We Want.

The Web that contributes to global peace, that is the web we want

The Web that remains open and inclusive, that is the web we want

The Internet of opportunities, of social justice, of development and of respect to privacy and human rights, that is why I am here.

Ladies and gentlemen, NETMundial is the World Cup of Internet Governance

We need a robust stadium – we need infrastructure

We need everyone to enjoy the game – we need participation

Fans should not be discriminated against: we need net neutrality

Everyone should be free to support any team. I support Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. I also support Brazil when they are not playing against Africa.

Fans will wear their costumes – let us respect diversity

We need to know the rules and play by them: That is transparency

So it is not just about power and control for governments.

Not just service and interest for the industry,

Not just names and numbers for the academia and technical community,

Not just “for” or “against” for us in the civil society.

We need humility. Our humility to listen to diverse voices is essential for an authentic dialogue. Let us talk to each other and not at each other. Sometimes as stakeholders, we may be so drowned with our own voices that we miss what others have to say.

Ladies and gentlemen, just before I sit down, tomorrow is the Girls in ICT Day. Let me say this: Girls, it is up to us to seize the Internet and rock the world. Let us get women online, let US get US online! And a special tribute to the girls in my Web Foundation team: Alexandra Groome, Renata Avila, Sonia Jorge, Anne Jellema. And the girls across the world who work on Internet Governance issues: Deborah Brown in the US, Marianne Franklin in Europe, Anja Kovacs in India, Valeria Betancourt in Latin America, Anriette Esterhuysen in Africa, Joy Liddicot in New Zealand, Salanieta, far away in the Islands of Fiji. And our wonderful girls in Brazil: Joana Varo, Carolina Rossini.

But no, it is not a women-only zone. There are men who put in energy, who spend hours of work, energy, resources -who risk their lives, for us to have a strong, free, open and robust Internet.

To you, to all those who work… to people like Edward. Edward Snowden, thank you.


Your comment has been sent successfully.