Internet Governance actors and intiative in Benin

This article was jointly co-authored by : Malick K. ALASSANE, Bendjédid Rachad SANOUSSI,  I. Tatiana HOUNDJO, Malorie Amoussou, Mars-Arès AGNOUN BASSO and Raihanath GBADAMASSI

Introduction 

The impact of the Internet is undoubtedly a factor of development of the nations and thus lays the foundation for the governance of the Internet. Like many countries, Benin has also joined this global network with the actors of its Internet ecosystem to participate and contribute to the evolution of the Internet at national, regional and global levels. Benin’s mainly young population is the fundamental pillar for its development. Thus, the various Internet governance initiatives in Benin are focused and oriented towards the youth target. They are more and more invited and asked to participate and contribute to decision circles of internet governance. 

I- The actors of Internet Governance in Benin

In Benin, the challenges of Internet governance are linked to the very nature of the actors involved in the governance process. These actors can be grouped into five categories:

A- Government

Made up of all the actors acting by delegation or on behalf of the public authority, state actors play a predominant role in Internet governance processes in Benin.

Indeed, they are largely responsible for the legislative, regulatory and organizational aspects of the Internet in Benin. The Beninese state remains one of the most economically powerful stakeholders within the multi-actor local framework through the publication of sector guidelines, the design and implementation of major public policy projects and the management of the universal service fund.

Among the state actors, we count in particular: 

  • Digital Council (CdN)  that is in charge of developing the national strategy for the digital economy called « INNOV BENIN 2021 », monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the national digital economy policy.
  • Ministry of the Digital Economy and Communication (MENC) that contributes to the promotion of the freedom of the press and the right to information. It creates favourable conditions for the production of the press and audiovisual quality, for their ethical and educational content. It defines and implements the strategy to the universal service of telecommunications, information technologies and communication and Post-Take specific measures to generalize the use of information technology and communication.
  • Agency for the Development of the Digital (ADN) implements the national digital strategy, particularly the high-speed infrastructure and Very High Speed, as defined by the Digital Council and the Government. It manages all projects allowing the coverage of the national territory by networks providing access to the Internet and digital quality.
  • Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communication and Post (ARCEP) which guarantees the rights and interests of users of electronic communications and postal services.
  • Services and Information Systems Agency (ASSI) executes flagship projects related to digital governance (Smart Gov) and E-commerce, help in capacity building of human resources in the digital domain. It promotes technologies, systems and know-how contributing to the development of digital trust.
  • National Agency for Security Information Systems (ANSSI) collaborates with the Central Office for the Suppression of Cybercrime (OCRC) and any other public entity,  as part of its Assignments.
  • Authority for the Protection of Personal Data (APDP) that assists the citizens in the exercise of their rights over their personal data. It understands and anticipates the impact of the most recent developments sensitive treatments before they are put in place.
  • Beninese Agency of the Universal Service of Electronic Communications and Post (ABSU-CEP) elaborates the specifications of the Universal Service of Electronic Communications and Post. It ensures the implementation of the Universal Service of Electronic Communications and Post.
  • Beninese Society of Digital Infrastructures (SBIN) in replacement of Benin Telecom Infrastructures, it is the structure in charge of optical fiber deployment.
  • Central Office for the Suppression of Cybercrime (OCRC) ensures that preventive measures against cybercrime are taken. It facilitates and coordinates at the national level, the operational implementation of the fight against perpetrators of crime and crime. It complies with the Code of Criminal Procedure in the investigation of offences against or using computer systems and the methods of processing, storage and communication of information

B – Private sector

The private sector plays a major role in Benin in the dissemination of digital goods, services and content. It is an extremely dynamic and diversified sector (from large technology companies to emerging start-ups) and is being consolidated into large subgroups.

In recent years, Internet-using companies have begun to take an interest in governance issues. This fact is quite important to be highlighted and testifies to a maturation of the sector with actors of the quality of providers and their rights. Among the private sector actors, there are in particular the telecommunication operators  MTN Benin and MOOV Benin and Internet Service Providers (FAIs) are:

  •  ABC SAR CORPORATION
  •  ALINK TELECOM SARL
  •  BENIN TELECOM SA (BTSA) is an internet provider. But this structure will be deleted and replaced by SBIN
  •  CANALBOX
  •  FIRST NET SA
  •  ISOCEL TELECOM
  •  JENY SAS internet provider for business and the company in charge of managing ccTLD “.bj”
  •  MARLANS TELECOM SA
  • OMNIUM OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INTERNET (OTI)
  •  SUD TELECOM SOLUTIONS SAR and UNIVERCELL SA
  •  IT-Nums is a private company that offers Domain and Hosting, National Digital Identity, Web Engineering, Infrastructure Engineering, Internet access management. 
  •  OpenSI
  • Cyberspector
  •  Google with the Google Digital Skills for Africa Ztallion in Benin and part of Africa
  •  Facebook with the boost with facebook programme
  • Many others and especially start-up

 

C- Civil society

Civil society in Benin is very active in the field of Internet governance in Benin. The objective of this family of actors remains the representation of non-professional groups using the Internet. This term also includes the various activist groups and other influential and active groups in the ICT sector in Benin. This group of actors plays its role as a counter-power and alerting agent quite well. Among the actors of civil society, there are in particular:

  • The ISOC Chapter of Benin,
  •  The Benin IGF association,
  •  The Blolab incubator,
  •  The Bloggers’ Association,
  •  The NGO IGBaNet,
  •  Fem&TIC
  •  the various consumer associations working in the Internet sector,
  •  The DSI club
  •  The Beninese Association for Cybersecurity and Digital Promotion.
  •  The Google Developers Groups / The Women techmakers communities

 

D – Technical Community

The technical community in Benin plays a very important role in Internet governance issues. This brings together universities with many research laboratories working around Internet technologies. The University of Abomey Calavi conducts much interesting research in Benin and many of the start of work of Internet technologies.

 

E – International organizations

The community of international organizations that works and supports Internet governance in Benin, plays a fundamental role in the development of the Internet in a global way. We can mention among others:

  • ISOC: Internet Society
  • IGF: Internet Governance Forum
  • EU: European Union
  • ICANN: Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers
  • IETF: Internet Engineering Task Force
  • OIF: International Organization of La Francophonie
  • UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • UNDP: United Nations Development Program

 

II-   The different initiatives of Internet governance in Benin

Several initiatives in Internet governance are to be welcomed. Among these, we can mention:

  • Benin Internet Governance Forum

The Internet Governance Forum in Benin (IGF Benin) is a multi-stakeholder framework for Internet Governance, which is inspired by the United Nations’ mission to organize an annual Internet Governance Forum as a global multi-stakeholder platform for dialogue on current and future issues in Internet governance.

  • Youthcom Workshop

This is a youth training workshop on Internet governance that was organized by IGF-Benin and ICANN in Cotonou from 06 to 09 December 2016. The Youth’Com (Youth Communities) ICANN’s program guidance through local-level training in partnership with national Internet stakeholders.

  • Benin School of Internet Governance

The School of Internet Governance in Benin aims to contribute to the popularization of information on the Internet in Benin and to inform end-users and the general public about Internet-related topics. It is organized by the IGF Benin, the third edition of which was held on June 2019 on the theme of « Digital Rights.

  • Benin DNS Forum

Established since 2015 by non-profit organizations, the Benin DNS Forum is a major meeting place for issues related to the Internet and the DNS in Benin. This annual event is organized in several activities, public forums, seminars, open training sessions and critical Internet technologies and resources in Benin. DNS, Domain Names, DNSSEC and DANE, Internet security and IP resources. After four successful editions, which have been acclaimed by the Beninese technical, economic and digital community, the next edition of the Benin DNS Forum is scheduled for September 2019.

  • Force Member Program

The purpose of the Force Member initiative is to build the capacity of members of the Internet Society (ISOC) Chapter of Benin on various aspects related to the Internet, with the aim of developing a community of qualified and seasoned members on the challenges related to the operation and maintenance of the Internet. use of the Internet.

  • Digital Week

The DIGITAL WEEK or SENUM (Digital Week) is an initiative that aims to highlight and develop the digital ecosystem in Benin. Benin’s potential is a week-long event in Benin’s potential. In this respect, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Communication creates favorable conditions for the development of the sector and the promotion of local innovations.

  • Benin Digital Tour

The Benin Digital Tour is a digital awareness and training caravan for the use of digital services for students, schoolchildren, craftsmen and traders for digital inclusion initiated by the Beninese Agency of the Universal Service of Electronic Communications and Training. Post (ABSU-CEP) in the vision of Making Benin the digital services platform in West Africa for the acceleration of economic growth and social inclusion.

  • Internet Privacy Week
  • Internet Safe Day
  • Women Digital Week

 

III- The way which young people can participate in these initiatives

In Benin, opportunities for young people to participate in and contribute to Internet Governance initiatives extend to several levels, namely:

  1. Join the civil society associations that fight for the governance of the Internet (fgi.bj – isoc.bj)
  2. Join the academic working groups in the academic field
  3. Partner with other young people from the same field to learn and contribute to actions on Internet governance
  4. Participate in seminars, workshops and communications on digital and internet in Benin
  5. Follow the information on the networks and through the media regarding the various actions and projects carried out in the country on the governance of the internet
  6. Register for various online courses on Internet learning, history and evolution. (https://learning.internetsociety.org , https://learn.icann.org )
  7. Integrate working groups and associations whose vision is related to your center of interest and future projects in Internet governance.

They can participate in these initiatives by attending meetings in their countries and regions so that they get a better understanding on the subject. During these meetings, they get to know people who are experts in the field. There are also online platforms and programs for young people interested in Internet Governance issues. Youth can engage themselves and become ambassadors of Internet Governance in their countries.

Example of platforms and programs

  • Youth IGF program
  • Youth Special Interest Group
  • Regional meetings
  • Digital Grassroots program
  • Youth IGF Project
  • Safer Internet Day 

 

References 

  1.  https://semainedunumerique.bj
  2.  https://dnsforum.bj
  3.  https://fgi.bj
  4.  https://fgi.bj/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Annuaire-Institutions-du-Num-au-B%C3%A9nin.pdf
  5.  https://isoc.bj/
  6.  https://isoc.bj/author/isocbenin/#.XULu6ehKhPa
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